As a frequent cruiser, with over 100 sailings under my belt, I've always known that the ships captain is the boss. The top dog. The Master. And of course, that is absolutely true. The captain is… The Captain. He (or she) is responsible for the overall safety and well being of all guests and crew members onboard the vessel he (or she) is commanding.
But what I keep learning, over and over again, is the entire hotel operation and daily onboard ship experience - meaning everything you see and everything you do - is under the skillful eye of the ship's Hotel Director.
I was recently sailing to Bermuda aboard Celebrity Cruises "Summit" and had the opportunity to spend time with Darren Tiller, Hotel Director.
Born in England , Darren began his hotelier career at a young age helping his parents run a small hotel in Oxfordshire. He quickly became hooked and started with Trusthouse Forte Hotels before working in the Caribbean for Westin, Raffles and Sandals Resorts. After returning to the UK for his Masters Degree in Tourism and Hospitality he served as Hotel Operations at the world renown Westbury Hotel in Mayfair, London.
Q - How did you go from running land-based hotels to cruise ships?
A - A friend worked for Celebrity and kept telling me how much he liked living and working at sea - and that I should try it. So I did. I applied online and kept at it. I wasn't getting any responses (but would contact Celebrity at least once a week) and then after a month, I got "the call" and flew to Miami. During my last interview of the day I was told I had the job and within a few weeks became the Associate Hotel Director on Celebrity's "Constellation". That was in 2010 and it's gone by in a flash.
Q - Is it very different running a cruise ship compared to a land-based hotel?
A - Totally. It can be very challenging. On a ship you must be prepared for everything and anything and have access to all types of inventory - plus the constant changing of crew members, due to their individual contracts. You must be 110% organized and prepared. On land, if something is needed, you go down the street and buy it - not as easy on a ship.
Q - What are your top three responsibilities/priorities?
A - #1 - An excellent guest experience for all guests and throughout all departments on the ship. #2. - Making sure all crew is trained properly and giving them the tools to deliver excellence within their specific roles. #3. - A friendly and open culture for all crew members. A happy, confident and well-trained crew equals a happy cruise experience for everyone onboard a ship.
Q - Do you have any ports-of-call that are your favorites?
A - I do, but it's tough not finding something wonderful about all the places we visit. I really like Sydney, Australia ; Venice, Italy ; Alaska and like you Sandy, I think Bermuda is very special and always beautiful. I never get tired of sailing in and out of Bermuda.
Celebrity Cruises "Summit" will begin regularly scheduled sailings roundtrip from Bayonne, New Jersey to Bermuda May through September 2014. The only premium ship with regular service to Bermuda, Celebrity is a terrific choice for an upscale onboard experience with an emphasis on excellent dining , award-winning AquaSpa , attentive service and modern luxury. Be sure to ask your AAA cruise expert about all 2014 special promotions and AAA group sailings.
Check out Sandy's ongoing Patriot-News special travel features. Go to www.PennLive.com/travel - look for "Fenton's Favorites."
SATURDAY, MARCH 8TH, 11AM-12PM - "PITTSBURGH - City of Champions" Most of us know and love Pittsburgh as the "City of Champions" , a sports-obsessed mecca for fans of the Steelers, Penguins, Pirates and Panthers. It's also a city well-known for its transformation as the "City of Steel" to a thriving center for high-tech innovations. But did you know Pittsburgh is a city filled with famous art museums, cultural exhibitions and educational programs? Pittsburgh is full of luxury hotels, great food - (forget the diet...you've got to have a Pimianti Brothers' sandwich) - world-class entertainment, big-time celebrities and has become a Hollywood favorite for movie locations. (And I'm not talking about the 15-minute Internet celebrities. I'm talking about Paul McCartney, Tom Cruise, Russell Crowe and Jeff Beck.) Pittsburgh's "see and be seen" hotel is the historic Omni William Penn, a 1916 National Historic Landmark oozing with Old World charm. For almost a century, this "Grande Dame" has hosted royalty, Presidents, socialites and Hollywood A-listers. Bob Page, Pittsburgh tourism expert and Director of Sales & Marketing for Omni William Penn will be my "Let's Talk Travel with AAA" guest Saturday at 11am on WHP580. If you haven't been to Pittsburgh for a few years…you don't know what you're missing!
SATURDAY, MARCH 15TH, 11AM-12PM - "Regent Seven Seas…the Most Inclusive Luxury Cruise Experience" I spend a lot of time traveling throughout the world attending tourism events and site inspections. One of the hottest travel trends and vacation topics continues to be the added values and all-inclusive products - particularly in the luxury travel brands. A favorite of mine and one of the best values in the luxury cruise market is Regent Seven Seas. Regent Seven Seas is a award-winning , all-inclusive cruise line with three luxurious ships - carrying 495-700 passengers to some of the most exotic and glamorous destinations on the planet. Regent is considered the most inclusive cruise experience in the world with their guests exploring the seven seas in absolute comfort. Kate Otto has worked in the luxury cruise industry for 35-years and is the sales director for Regent Seven Seas Cruises. She will be my in-studio guest Saturday at 11am on "Let's Talk Travel with AAA" on WHP-AM580. Don't let another year go by, Regent Seven Seas cruise line is on sale and now is the time to book your luxurious cruise vacation.
Every week "Let's Talk Travel" host Sandy Fenton takes the audience to a different vacation destination with the travel experts sitting in the studios as guest co-hosts.
A broadcast veteran for almost 30-years, Sandy Fenton created and developed "Let's Talk Travel with AAA" in 1993. The show sold-out immediately (and continues to year after year) with AAA as the major sponsor. A one-hour weekly travel talk show , Fenton is the host of "Let's Talk Travel" featuring foreign & domestic vacation destinations and high level travel industry executives & professionals as in-studio guests. Every Saturday from 3pm - 4pm, "Let's Talk Travel" highlights the hottest vacation trends, the best travel deals for the money and updates with the airlines, hotels, resorts , tour companies & cruise lines. Fenton has traveled the globe for 15+ years and has been on over 65-cruises. Considered an expert in train travel, cruising and luxury destinations, Fenton has experienced extensive touring throughout Scandinavia , United Kingdom, Europe, Bahamas, Bermuda, Caribbean, Eastern Canada, the Baltics and the USA.
From family vacations to romantic adult-only holidays - to ultra luxurious European cruises or weekend getaways throughout the beautiful state of Pennsylvania, the most up-to-date travel information and expert travel advice can be heard every Saturday afternoon , 3pm-4pm, on "Let's Talk Travel with AAA" on WHP TalkRadio 580.
To contact Sandy, email her at email@example.com
Fenton is also featured bi-monthly in the Patriot-News Sunday Travel section with the popular "Fenton Favorite's" travel column and in each issue of AAA Magazine "Fenton Travel Q & A" and "Fenton Travel Interviews".
Check out the new Sandy Fenton Seven travel stories in Pennsylvania Pursuits Magazine beginning Summer 2010.
AAA Central Penn - www.aaa.com
Amtrak - www.amtrak.com
Skytop Lodge - www.skytop.com
Harrisburg International Airport - www.flyhia.com
Pinnacle Health Travel Clinic - www.pinnaclehealth.org
Islands of the Bahamas - www.bahamas.com
Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Company - www.gophila.com
PA Tourism - www.visitpa.com
Bermuda Tourism - www.bermudatourism.com
Tropicana Casino & Resort - www.tropicana.net
Baltimore Tourism - www.baltimore.org
Harrisburg Area Community College/Tourism Program - www.hacc.edu
Royal Caribbean International - www.aaacp.com
Hurtigruten Cruises - www.aaacp.com
Icelandair - www.aaacp.com
Insight Vacations - www.aaacp.com
Norwegian Cruise Line - www.aaacp.com
Travel Impressions - www.aaacp.com
Trafalgar Tours - www.aaacp.com
Globus Tours - www.aaacp.com
Walt Disney - www.aaacp.com
Holland America Line - www.aaacp.com
CIE Tours - www.aaacp.com
Regent Seven Seas Cruises - www.aaacp.com
Princess Cruises - www.aaacp.com
Pleasant Holidays - www.aaacp.com
Uniworld River Cruises - www.aaacp.com
Listen To Past Shows:
TO LISTEN TO FUTURE SHOWS, CHECK OUT THE LET'S TALK TRAVEL PODCAST PAGE! CLICK HERE