Marella Explorer 2 Shakedown Cruise

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A day in the life of…

An Aviation Planning Apprentice – On the Marella Explorer 2 Shakedown Cruise

Shakedown 1

Friday

14.30 Board flight.

After a rather long three hour transfer from Wigmore house to Manchester airport, I board my three-hour flight out of Manchester airports brand new pier. I was beginning my journey on my very first cruise and I was so excited! We were on our way to the newest addition to the Marella fleet to test out the ship before passengers boarded in Palma.

17.00 All aboard!!

After a short 20-minute transfer to Malaga port, I finally get my first glimpse of the ship, and it was much bigger than I had expected! I checked in and boarded my home for the next 5 days and instantaneously got lost! It was a maze of 13 decks and I had to find my roommate amongst over 1000 people! I finally found my cabin mate, Georgia who took us to our cabin as she’d arrived earlier on the Gatwick flight. In the evening after we were all settled in and our cases were delivered to our cabin, we got ready for the evening and went to see one of the Broadway show acts which was amazing! The entertainment team were so talented and put on such a good show. Following this we made our way to the bar and socialised for the rest of the evening

Saturday

08.00 The Muster drill

After an early start we had to attend the compulsory muster drill before we set sail that evening. Following on from this I went to the head office conference where we were given business updates from the directors.

13.00 Treasure hunt

After a yummy lunch we made our way to indigo bar where we assembled into our given teams for the treasure hunt. This was great fun and was a really great way to get to know people outside of your division, have a good old laugh and get to know the layout of the ship! Although we didn’t come close to winning it was still great fun and a chance to act silly making videos and taking pictures of you doing different things around the ship.

17.30 The Naming Ceremony

Following a lovely formal gala dinner, we all made our way to the pool deck for the naming ceremony and evening entertainment. With special guests Rak Su and Nick Grimshaw, we were ready for the night ahead! The captain later introduced the ships Godmothers and we had a countdown to the official launch of the Marella Explorer 2. Following on from this, we made our way to Indigo bar and partied the night away.

Sunday

11.00 Exploring Cartagena

Our first dock since we left Malaga, we were finally let off the ship and were able to explore! The weather really was not in our favour though as it poured all day. However, we didn’t let it stop us! We explored the City and stopped for a coffee before heading back to the ship for the fancy dress night!

17.00 The 90’s Party

After drying out from our walk earlier me and Georgia, or should I say Mario and Luigi, went to the indigo bar where we met S Club Party who did a fantastic performance and judge Jules too. We had another night celebrating the success of the ships launch and dancing to 90’s songs!

 

Monday

11.00 Off to Valencia

This day was possibly my favourite of the whole trip! We explored the historic city of Valencia, looked around the cathedral and climbed the bell tower to get an amazing sight of the coast and city. We went to a local restaurant and I tried paella for the first time and it was amazing. I really enjoyed this day so much, and the weather was nice enough that we could explore properly instead of trying to dodge the rain!

Tuesday

14.30 Home time

After a long few days exploring Spain and testing out our new ship, I was finally making my way home. I was absolutely shattered, but so looking forward to going home and telling everyone about the amazing experience I had whilst away. And to finish off an already perfect trip, we also flew on one of our dream liners back into Luton which really ended things on a high!

Shakedown 4

Ellen – Commercial Apprentice

 

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A day in the life of a Product Assistant…

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Resort visit – Sorrento


Italy 3

Monday

06.30 Board flight.

With my Krispy Kreme in hand (healthy breakfast!) I boarded my 2.5 hour flight from London Luton to Naples ready for my resort visit in Italy. I had 3 days to explore 21 of the hotels that we offer our customers and some free time to explore the Sorrento area including the Amalfi Coast.

 

12.00  Check into the Sensimar Atlantic Palace.

After a 1.5 hour transfer into Sorrento I finally arrived at my home for next 4 days; the Sensimar Atlantic Palace. A beautiful boutique feel hotel offering panoramic views over Mount Vesuvius and although I took the rainy weather from the UK with me, it still offered incredible views from the roof terrace. My Purchaser Ruth came to meet me for  lunch at the hotel and then we started on our first hotel visits of the trip. We managed to visit 7 hotels that afternoon and as we had a spare hour before our dinner plans we also took a walk around the centre of Sorrento to see the highlights of the city. We finished the day with an arranged dinner at the Grand President, with stuffed cheese pasta on the menu!

 

Tuesday

09.00 Breakfast and another day exploring more of our key hotels.

With a stomach full of Italian pastries, I met my other Purchaser Lucy, who took me around another 5 hotels. These hotels were some of my favorite’s of the trip, one being the Capri; a small and friendly hotel, very chic with modern touches and it’s the perfect location to explore Sorrento city. We also visited our flag ship Sensimar and this fully lived up to my expectations, situated on the peak of a hill it offers some of the best views in Sorrento and the resort itself had a calm ambiance. Lunch was catered for at the Mar Alimuri which was a 4 course affair and dinner was at the Sensimar Nastro. What I started to realise at this point is how good the food was, and how much of it the hotels wanted to give us. We were made special cocktails before dinner at the Nastro and the chocolate fountain for desert was a personal highlight for my sweet tooth!

 

Wednesday

09.00 Breakfast and another day exploring with Ruth.

Wednesday was my last full day of hotel visits and lucky for me the weather had turned. We had 8 hotels to visit on this day. We managed to see 6 of the 8 hotels in the morning before we had our lunch, which was a 3 course sea-food meal out in the sunshine by the pool with one of the Hotel managers. After this we stopped by our last 2 Hotels of the trip, the Hotel Dania and the Conca Park, another firm favourite.

15.00 Exploring the Amalfi coast

We finished our hotel visits by 3 and so spent the rest of the afternoon on a road trip around the Amalfi coast and Positano. It was great to see where all our hotels were situated along the coast line and it offered the most incredible Instagram-worthy views. Dinner on my third night was at the Sensimar Atlantic Palace and this night was a gala evening. Another evening where desert was my favourite!

 

Thursday

07.00 Taxi back to the airport

Thursday marked the end of my trip to Sorrento and I reluctantly headed back to Naples airport at 7am. Reflecting on my resort trip it was one of the most memorable and worth-while opportunities I have had in my Product role. Being able to look around our hotels/the Sorrento area and meet with our Hoteliers proved really insightful and I’ve come away understanding my destination in a whole new light.

 

Katie – Product planning assistant for Italy & Iceland

Spotlight on… Richard Sofer!

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Richard Sofer Selfie

What is your background and how did you get to where you are today?

I briefly went to Loughborough University but only stayed there for 3 weeks – I decided to leave as I knew it wasn’t for me. I then went on to study accountancy whilst working with Rolls Royce and I stayed in accountancy for 12-13 years in an array of Blue Chip companies, including Whitbread and Compass.

I then moved to a Hotel group in London where I took on the role of Finance director before moving to TUI in Sept 2016 as the Managing Director of Cruise. I stayed in this role for 14 months, before moving into my current role as Commercial Director.

What are the key differences in your role since your appointment to Commercial Director?

There are so many differences between the two roles. One of the key differences would be the size of the team; my current team is around 4 times the size of what I managed in Cruise.

In terms of Product, Cruise was catering for a very specific market whereas Commercial covers a much broader industry with a lot more competition and a battleground for market share. Alongside this it’s also been a massive step up in responsibility!

What has been your biggest challenge so far in your working life?

One of my biggest challenges was whilst working at Argos. I’m going back around 15 years or so when Argos was really developing and the online market wasn’t what we know now. I worked there for about 5 years and I took on a few roles. At this time we were faced with the major competitor Amazon who were bringing a new life to shopping, which was damaging Argos.  We were constantly working on ways we could innovate ourselves, change our strategy and re look at our cost base to keep up with the changing market. It was very interesting but also challenging.

What has been your greatest achievement during your time at TUI?

The launch of Discovery 2. Not many people can say they’ve launched a Cruise Ship before! It was a perfect launch and was really satisfying seeing it all come together and perform really well.

Can you give some career advice for the current and future Apprentices?

Lots! The main thing I say to everyone is you have to enjoy what you do; you need to recognise what you don’t like and if you really don’t like it then you don’t have to do it. Don’t be afraid to say you don’t like it. Also, be passionate and be inquisitive, ask questions and don’t leave something not understanding what’s going on.

 What do you think is the best part about working in travel/for TUI?

It’s a great industry to be passionate about, it’s fulfilling. Who doesn’t love a holiday? There is huge motivation and opportunity to provide great holidays; TUI gives customers confidence. I think another great thing about TUI is the scale of the business, there are lots of opportunities to expand and grow. It’s also a great business to have on your CV.

What are your views on Jet2 and their strategy for growth?

Jet2 are fairly new to the package market – only around 10 years old. They launched in a period of a consumer market where we are moving online, they’ve watched other operators like ourselves grow over decades and they have grown through seeing what we do well and taking on new opportunities. They’ve taken a very bold and brave approach but I do think their growth will start to slow soon if they don’t reevaluate their long term strategy.

What is your most embarrassing TUI/work moment?

My most embarrassing moment was at the launch event of TUI Discovery 2. We had a 1 hour ‘Hello TUI’ briefing planned first thing the next morning but because of how great the launch night was I slept through my alarm, missed the Hello TUI briefing and was awoken by a colleague banging on my door. I ended up being 1 hour 15 minutes late after encouraging my own team to make sure they turned up on time!

 What are your views on a Commercial Conference?

I think a commercial conference is so important as a division for team engagement. It holds really important information where we can discuss ideas and recognise individual’s achievements. We will always find a way to have a commercial conference and bring everyone together but it has to be affordable.

QUICK FIRE ROUND

What was your first ever paid job?

I worked on a garage forecourt for £2.50 an hour doing 3 evenings a week. It was a bit dull but it was easy.

What has been your favourite holiday to date?

Last year I went to Australia with my wife and 2 children for 3 weeks for our friend’s wedding. We also spent 2 weeks in Thailand visiting places like Bangkok and Koh Samui, visiting Elephant sanctuaries and seeing the different cultures. We then spent a few nights in Singapore. It was a great experience.

What do you do in your free time?

I’ve got 2 kids and 2 dogs that keep me busy!  I also coach my sons football team a couple of times a week; I enjoy keeping fit and like running and Taekwondo. If I’m not doing any of that I’ll be watching films.

How many times did it take you to pass your driving test?

First time! Which is quite funny because it took my brother a couple of times so it was sort of a competition.

What is your go-to TV show or film?

Any sort of Super Hero film, my son loves those movies and I enjoy watching them with him, or Die Hard. It’s one of those you can watch again and again.

Spotlight on… James Lawrence!

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James L selfie

What is your background and how did you get to where you are today?

I did a stats degree at university, and I always wanted to work in the city in finance. I’ve been at TUI for 20 years, joined in 1997 and started as a yield executive for Thomson holidays looking after Ibiza. The real focus then was on late trading as opposed to the early market. When we split the departments I became head of early trading looking after key sales periods such as Blue X, and this year I was lucky enough to be given the role of Yield Director.

What are the key differences in your role since becoming Yield Director?

The bigger team. I used to just look after Earlies, but I am now looking after Lates, Flight Trading and Inventory. My team of 25 has grown into a team of 120. My role is very visible to the whole company.

What has been your biggest challenge so far in your working life?

Turn of year! Huge numbers to manage and we have to hit numbers to make profit for the business. If we fail to hit the numbers, the company will suffer.

What has been your greatest achievement during your time at TUI?

Delivering our numbers in turn of year. 2005 and 2006 – the profit we made in those years was fantastic. It is also great to see the development of my colleagues within the department and seeing them grow.

Can you give some career advice for the current and future Apprentices?

Advice that was given to me – choose your boss wisely. You need a good boss as you will learn more from them than anyone else in the business. You can have an influence on this so don’t think you can’t!

What do you think is the best part about working in travel/for TUI?

Never stands still – constantly moving industry, influenced by so many external factors that you might not think about, as well as some obvious ones (hurricanes and foreign currency). It is also a wonderful product to sell as it is something that everyone wants.

What do you think the impact of the TUI rebrand will be on the UK business?

I think it will be positive. Thomson being a tour operator is quite an old-fashioned phrase. We now have an opportunity to branch out and find a new customer base, as well as striding further away from the likes of Thomas Cook, as our names will no longer be so similar.

What are your views on Jet2 and their strategy for growth?

5 years ago I would never have said the words Jet2, but now not a day goes by without talking about them. They’ve grown quicker than we expected. Their messaging is very clear and direct and it’s working well for them – value for money. They’ve seen a gap in the market and they’ve jumped in and been really successful. The next 18 months will be a real test for them, as it will be for us. As they are growing so fast, it will be hard for them to deliver in a tough trading market.

What is your most embarrassing TUI/work moment?

Discounting the entire Summer 2004 program by 50% – oops. Cost the business quite a lot of money.

QUICK FIRE ROUND

What was your first ever paid job?

A paperboy.

What has been your favourite holiday to date?

Peru – the Inca Trail was amazing!

What do you do in your free time?

I watch a lot of sport and I hold a season ticket for Tottenham Hotspur. I also enjoy playing golf and going to modern art galleries.

How many times did it take you to pass your driving test?

1st time!!

What is your go-to TV show or film?

Luther or The Wire as a TV Show. I’m a massive James Bond fan – Casino Royale is my favourite. Also, The Shawshank Redemption is a classic.

Spotlight on… Nick Longman!

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IMG_4843What is your background and how did you get to where you are today?

I’ve got a bit of an odd background; I first started out as an accountant with Deloitte for 9 years. When I lost one of my major clients to First Choice, I was approached by them to be head of Audit, which I did, so I joined through Finance. From here I became a group financial controller where I worked on major projects such as the 5 year plan, and when my manager (Finance director) left I took on his role temporarily for 6 months, taking on big challenges like presenting to the City. I then made a move to become the Finance Director in Canada where they were making a loss of $16 million and by the time I had left they were at breakeven, which was a massive accomplishment. I came back to the UK, still a finance director, and ran the business for 3 years and made around $16 million during my time. I then moved on to Distribution, becoming the Integration Director which is exactly where I wanted to be.  I remained here for 1 year before taking on my current role of Managing Director for TUI.

What 3 things would you put your success down to?

The first thing that has contributed to my success would be hard work. I’ve always been very organised and disciplined throughout my career and accepted that putting in extra hours pays off. The second thing would be perseverance; there were many times throughout my career where I was set back and it would have been easy to give up but sticking with it is key and accepting that you may not always make it from A to B in a straight line is important. The third thing would be that I’ve managed my career, I haven’t waited for things to come to me I’ve actively taken opportunities. For example I once went on secondment to Australia for 2 years during my time with Deloitte which was a difficult thing to come by but I proactively went out and got it.

What has been your biggest challenge so far in your working life?

There are 2 major challenges I have experienced during my career, the first being 9/11 and the second being the Tunisia incident. 9/11 happened when I was Finance Director. It was a challenge to deal with but together with my manager, who knew exactly how he wanted to deal with it, we managed to take quick actions. Not every decision was the right decision but the majority were. With the Tunisia incident I had only been acting Managing Director for 3 weeks, it was a terrible humanitarian incident and trying my best to do the right thing for everyone was tricky, but the team performed really well and I am pleased with how we responded.

What has been your greatest achievement during your time as MD?

The greatest achievement during my time as Managing Director would be the way the business dealt with the incidents above. Everyone pulled together and worked so well as a team. I would also say my time in Canada was a massive achievement. I went out there knowing I had to fix the situation, I had to identify issues and find solutions whilst also being relatively junior at the time. I managed to turn the business around and that was a massive success.

What do you believe will be the next major innovation in our industry?

I think the next major innovation within the Travel Industry will be within the airline in terms of service and comfort. For example, although not feasible at the moment we have been looking into getting family booths and entertainment on planes, to name a couple of ideas.

The company is aiming to add 2,000 apprentices by 2020 – What do you think are the benefits of this/what led this decision? Why is supporting apprenticeship programmes so important now?

I think it’s a great initiative – statistically Apprentices do really well in our company. They tend to stick around and show a lot of enthusiasm for the job. I think it’s great to give young people an opportunity to learn on the job.

Can you give some career advice for the current and future School Leavers/Apprentices?

Firstly, you have got to persevere and the first time you meet some resistance, don’t give up. The travel industry is fun – we are selling holidays. Take control of your own career and believe in yourself.

What do you think is the best part about working in travel/for TUI?

I think it’s a really fun industry. When I tell my kids some of the things I have been doing at work they say – that’s not work, that’s fun. Most people who start a career in the travel industry also tend to stay in the travel industry, whether it’s in the same company or movement to another.

Tell us one interesting fact about yourself

I did used to play darts for England. I also have all of Madonna’s picture discs – I have a lot of records. You probably don’t even know what picture discs are do you? (We didn’t!)

What is your most embarrassing TUI/work moment?

I was given the task to pretend to be a buyer for T-Shirts to try and catch out someone who was under-selling. This was my first day at First Choice, so I turned up in Ibiza wearing a full suit and a briefcase – probably not the best choice of outfit to try and fool a T-Shirt seller.

QUICK FIRE ROUND

What was your first ever paid job?

My first job was as a Warehouse man at Marks and Spencer’s whilst I was at university. We used to have competitions on a Saturday whilst doing our stock takes, making the job take twice as long but having a laugh. It was great.

What do you do in your free time?

I’m a massive football fan, supporting Crystal Palace, and I’m also getting back into Darts. I have 2 daughters who also keep me very busy, although one can drive now so I’m not running around after her as much anymore!

How many times did it take you to pass your driving test?

Twice. I was one of the youngest people in my year group so during the summer holidays once I’d turned 17 I took an intense driving course, I failed the test first time but managed to get another test booked in for 3 weeks’ time and I passed that. It was quite funny though because I looked so young, once I’d passed I often got stopped by the police and had to get my parents to come and verify my license was really me.

What is your go-to TV show or film?

I’m really into Game of Thrones at the moment, and I did really like Prison Break. I wasn’t really into Game of Thrones initially, but my daughters told me I’d love it and it has a lot of sex in it – I guess that kind of drew me in to start with.

Who was your favourite band when you were a teenager?

Adam of the Ants. U2 also – I’m really chuffed actually as I’ve managed to get tickets to see these this year in concert.

Who is your favourite ever Crystal Palace player?

Ian Wright – he was a star player when I was watching in the 90’s.

 

 

Meet Our Latest Apprentice’s – Richard Jarvis

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Name: Richard Jarvis

Age: 22

What did you study and where?

Media, IT and Geography at A-level – Longsands Academy, St Neots

Why did you apply for the Apprenticeship?

I fancied a change in career, a fresh start in something I really wanted to do. Work for a massive company like TUI, in the operational side of an airline. I feel now that I have my foot in the door at TUI, after my scheme, I can work wherever I want within the business.

What are you doing in your role as an apprentice?

Currently I am placed in the Aviation Planning team, looking after flight cancellations, aircraft changes and 3rd party airlines like Thomas Cook, currently my role is very free-flowing, and dependent on external factors outside the businesses control, meaning that every day can be very different.

Dream holiday?

Florida – Theme parks, food, weather – It’s all just great!

Interesting Fact?

I crashed my car the week before I started this job!! – Bad omens! But I’m fine.

Favourite Film?

The Fast & Furious series – I can’t just pick one!

If you were an animal, which one would you be?

Rabbit – nice and friendly normally, but can have a mean streak when provoked, also they can be ginger like me!

Meet Our Latest Apprentice’s – Katie Trigg

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katieName: Katie Trigg

Age: 21

What did you study and where?

Business Studies, Sociology and Psychology at A-Level – Fearnhill School

Why did you apply for the Apprenticeship?

I always wanted to work in the Travel & Tourism industry. TUI being such a well-known and respectable company, it just felt like a great place to start and get my foot in the door and progress in my career. I didn’t fancy university really, I preferred to stay at home and earn money.

What are you doing in your role as an apprentice?

Currently I am placed in the Early Trading team, helping yield the prices of some key long-haul resorts such as Aruba; Vietnam, Costa Rica an Sri Lanka. As well as playing a key part in the W17 launch and the Blue Cross sale.

Dream holiday?

Florida – by far the happiest place on earth!

Who’s the most famous person you’ve met?

Dermot O’Leary

Favourite Film?

Bridesmaids – I watch it repeatedly and still laugh at it!

If you were an animal, which one would you be?

Sloth – Sleep for days!!!