I started in the hospitality industry in England at the young age of 17, where I attended hotel and restaurant management college. I always wanted to work on cruise ships for some reason (maybe to get away from the lovely British weather) and applied to every cruise line possible. I was working in London as a management trainee in 1985 when Carnival came to England to recruit for their Food and Beverage Management Training Program. I interviewed and was hired!
At 19, I found myself on a plane from London to Miami to start my career at sea. Carnival Cruise Line had three ships at the time: the Carnivale, Mardi Gras and Festivale. I started working on the Festivale and loved it. Ten years later, I had worked on ten of their ships, four of which I brought out from the shipyards as Food and Beverage Director. I was promoted to Food and Beverage Director at the age of 23.
After ten years at sea with Carnival, I resided in North Miami and worked for Hilton Hotels at the Fontainebleau Hilton as Assistant Food and Beverage Director before being promoted back to Food and Beverage Director and moving to Seattle to work in a hotel going through a major expansion and renovation at Seattle Airport.
I decided to go back to work on ships in 2005 as a friend of mine was working for Norwegian Cruise Line and called me about an opportunity to bring out the Pride of America for the brand as the first American-flagged cruise ship built to cruise in Hawaii since American Hawaii Cruises. I brought this ship out to much fanfare as we traversed the East Coast of the U.S.A. with a broadcast from “Live with Regis and Kathie Lee” at each port-of-call.
I stayed with Norwegian Cruise Line for five years then moved to San Diego. I worked at Loews Coronado Bay Resort as Food and Beverage Director before moving with the General Manager to Bacara Resort in beautiful Santa Barbara for two years.
I still had the itch to return to the sea but wanted to gain the experience working for a luxury cruise line. I had some contacts with Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises, so I reached out to them and was immediately hired. My first cruise with Oceania was from Dubai to Cape Town, which followed with Cape Town to Singapore then Singapore to Tianjin.
I had a great experience with Oceania and then worked onboard Regent for a couple of contracts, which provided me invaluable experience with both brands before starting my own business in 2015 with Cruise Planners/American Express Travel, focusing on group food and wine travel – specifically wine cruises.
I have organized and escorted four wine group cruises since starting my own business. My first group cruise was with Brander Vineyard from Santa Ynez. We sailed with Princess Cruises on the Crown Princess from Los Angeles on a four-day coastal California cruise. We conducted a private tasting at three wineries in Santa Barbara as well as at wineries in the Valle De Guadalupe valley.
I sailed with San Diego State and their business of wine program along the California coast, where we partook in private wine experiences in San Francisco (Napa/Sonoma), Santa Barbara and Ensenada (Valle De Guadalupe) last year, and we also sailed with Castillo De Feliciana Vineyards, from the Walla Walla region in Washington state, where we sailed on the Oceania Riviera from Barcelona to Lisbon.
My clients loved sailing the Pacific Coast where I organized private vineyard tours and meals in different ports-of-calls such as in Santa Barbara, where we had private access to Happy Canyon Vineyard and the Chef at El Encanto served us an amazing lunch paired with wines from Santa Barbara on the patio overlooking the harbor. Or a private wine tour in Morocco from the port of Casablanca to the oldest winery in Morocco (nobody else on the ship was able to do this tour).
I try to create unique experiences in the ports-of-call we visit.
I have organized my next wine cruise with Stacy & Gregg Lill from Delille Cellars in Washington state, where we will be sailing in the Mediterranean this May from Rome to Venice. I have other wine cruises scheduled in July with David Glancy, Master of Wine and Owner of the San Francisco Wine School on Azamara Club Cruises from Rome to Venice as well as a LGBTQ wine cruise with “Out In The Vineyard” owners Mark Saperstein & Gary Vogel, sailing from Amsterdam to Lisbon this September on the Oceania Riviera.
I am also working with “Meet Me On Board,” a LGBTQ Facebook page and website as their sole travel professional. We have organized their first group cruise on the new Norwegian Bliss sailing on October 5th roundtrip from Los Angeles. Meet Me On Board helps connects 15,000 gay and lesbian cruisers.
I specialize in group food and winemaker cruises. I am different from other travel agencies as I can “walk the walk” and “talk the talk” about wine and cruising as well as utilize my connections with various cruise lines and people in the culinary and wine industry to put together exceptional experiences. I am expanding my business to food and wine experiences on land next year with two amazing trips to South Australia and South Africa. I was lucky enough to visit both places last year and incorporated the “best of the best” for each trip.
- Cruise the Mediterranean with Master Sommelier David Glancy, Founder of The San Francisco Wine School – Azamara Quest – July 7th, 2018 – 9 Nights – Rome to Venice – From $3,495 pp
- Come sail with Out In The Vineyard “At Sea” (LGBT Group) on the beautiful Oceania Cruises Riviera departing Lisbon on September 14th, 2018 on a 10-night trip visiting wine regions in Portugal, Spain, France and Italy – From $3,899 per person (including roundtrip airfare)
- 11-Night Land South Australia Wine, Food & Wildlife inclusive vacation – March 2019 – From $6,595 per person
- 11-Day South African Wine & Safari Experience – October 2019 – All-Inclusive from $10,320 per person (including roundtrip flights)
- Address: 9th Avenue, San Diego, CA 92101
- Website: www.cruisewinetravel.com
- Phone: 206-399-2138
- Email: [email protected]
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