Anna Twitchin is an avid traveller sharing her experiences of cruising via her blog ‘The Cruise Blogger‘. Her aim is to unpack the myths surrounding cruise holidays and she was kind enough to share some time with us for a few questions below…
Inside the Cask: Anna, you are the person behind ‘The Cruise Blogger‘ blog, how did it all start and what response have you received back?
I started my blog in 2016 as a platform to chart my travels on cruise ships. My husband is deck officer for Carnival UK, and I have spent a lot of time cruising around the world with him. A blog seemed like a great way to combine two of my passions – travel and writing. It also kept me busy on long sea days!
The blog has evolved and I now cover all aspects of cruising, sharing tried and tested advice from my perspective as a thirty-something cruise passenger. I’ve had really positive feedback so far, and it has received a lot of interest from readers and cruise industry professionals worldwide.
Inside the Cask: From a personal perspective, what is your background? Have you worked in the cruise industry?
Having cruised regularly as a teenager, I spent 5 years working for Carnival UK once I left university. After two years in their head office, I left to work as an Assistant Shore Excursions Manager for P&O Cruises. I spent three years travelling the world to far-flung places such as Asia, Australia and New Zealand. The role involved selling and escorting shore excursions to cruise passengers. Since then I have worked in marketing and I am now a freelance copywriter (www.compasscopywriting.co.uk).
Inside the Cask: What were your best cruising experiences to date? Favourite places visited? Any trips coming up that you are looking forward to?
My favourite experience was completing an entire world cruise in 2011. Although my job onboard was challenging as times, the ports we visited were incredible. I also loved sailing to the USA and Canada. I would love to see more of North America and I’ve never been to South America. My next cruise will take me back to the Mediterranean.
Inside the Cask: What changes have you seen in the cruise industry since you first began travelling in cruise ships? The image most people have of travellers on cruise ships tend to be of an older profile, is that fair?
I have seen a lot of changes since my first cruise on the Canberra in 1995. The industry is constantly evolving and cruise ships seem to be moving away from the traditional, in favour of new innovation and changing technology.
Cruising has become more diverse and many of the larger cruise lines now have ships that target different audiences. Cruise companies are constantly developing new ways to entertain younger clientele, whether it’s families, couples or solo travellers.
An older profile will always exist, but now there are ships that specifically cater for this market. There is also a lot more choice itinerary-wise. Ports have developed and many destinations have started to understand the value the cruise industry can bring to their local economy.
Inside the Cask: Any advice you would give for the 1st time cruise passenger? For those who have never been on a cruise, what do they ask you about the most?
I often come across people who think that cruising is very expensive, and that it’s also aimed at older people. Like any holiday, the cost of a cruise varies, but most will be inclusive of accommodation and food. Shop around, read blogs and reviews on websites like Cruise Critic before booking a cruise.
I also find Facebook groups really useful, as people are generally very honest and quick to respond. As for the older profile, pick your ship carefully and consider the time of year you want to cruise. A cruise in June to the Baltic region will have an older passenger base compared to a cruise in August to the Mediterranean (which will have a lot of families on board).
Inside the Cask: Do you visit the bars and shops onboard the cruise ships? Have you rated the best/ worst bars and shops onboard in your blog? Is this important to someone going on a cruise?
I do use the bars and shops on ships and I mention them in ship reviews, but I haven’t rated them on my blog.
Bars play an important role in helping set the ambience on a cruise ship, and they are often a hive of activity in the evening. You’ll normally find that each bar offers a different form of entertainment. You could have a pianist playing in one place and a quiz taking place in another.
Bars are often very busy on sea days, as many of them double up as lounges during the daytime. I do like to browse the shops on a ship, and I often buy my cosmetics or perfume on board.
Inside the Cask: What is the favourite part about cruising?
I like visiting a different place each day, without having to change hotels. I love the comfort and familiarity that comes with stepping back on board after a day ashore. I also enjoy making new friends and meeting new people.
Inside the Cask: Any surprises during your many trips?
There haven’t been too many surprises, but I have met some interesting celebrities over the years. Olly Smith, Atul Korchaar and Eddie the Eagle (pictured below) are all people I have met recently, and all three are just as lovely as they appear to be on TV!
Inside the Cask: Finally, tell us something we would not know about you…
I’m an avid reader and I often start a new book every few days on a cruise. I’m also not a keen sunbather, so I prefer relaxing in the shade when I am on board!