In 2018, Cathy put pen to paper when she recognised a gap in the market for promoting the joy of port exploration. Thus, portExplore was created. Here, we chat all about how Cathy discovered cruising, what her most memorable cruising experience is and which cruise destination she implores everyone to visit.
Let’s start from the beginning! When did you discover your love for cruising?
It all started with a cruise on P&O Cruises Aurora in 2004. My parents loved to cruise and booked the whole family onto a mini cruise to Zeebrugge and Guernsey to celebrate their Golden Wedding. We had five balconies in a row with the partitions unlocked! I loved the way the entire family - from 7 to 70 - found different things to do all day and then came together to share it all over dinner. Hooked!
When did you start portExplore and what was your motivation for doing so?
In 2018. We had been on an overnight stop in Venice and our table companions weren’t going to get off the ship because “they’d seen it before.” I was absolutely shocked and spent the previous evening explaining that you didn’t need an expensive excursion to be allowed to leave the ship and that there was more to Venice than St Mark's Square. It sowed the seed that grew into portExplore.
What is your favourite part of creating content?
Feedback! I love it when someone comes back to report on a day ashore that they’ve planned with one of my Port Profiles or shows me their completed Cruise Planner after a cruise. It’s a little glowy feeling!
What do you think is at the heart of the portExplore ethos?
I’m always trying to share the idea that it’s better to discover things than to be shown them and sometimes the cheapest experiences are your most authentic memories of a place.
What is the most memorable moment of your portExplore career to date?
Merging portExplore and Cruise Addicted at the beginning of the year was a big moment. I had worked with them on their Cruise Planner so when Becky (original Cruise Addicted admin) wanted to move on, it made sense for Emma Watts (current Cruise Addicted admin) and I to take over from her. They are such a lovely community, so helpful and friendly. Together we’re going to do great things!
Do you have a favourite cruise line?
What is your most memorable cruising experience?
Our first transatlantic on Queen Mary 2 was full of special moments and is the reason I’m so in love with sea days and repositioning cruises now. I remember being three days out from New York and realising that we weren’t even halfway across the Atlantic - it made me realise how small I am and how huge the world is!
Do you have any top tips for our customers to make the most out of their cruises?
I always think preparation and planning are the keys to a perfect cruise experience and relating this to a day ashore is the cornerstone of The Confident portExplorer. The idea behind the Cruise Planner was to find a way of remembering all your cruises in detail - if you rely on your memory they all start blurring into one!
Which cruise destinations do you think should appear on every traveller's bucket list?
As many as possible! I was stunned to hear an Australian describe their favourite cruise destination as being Southampton. It made me realise that it’s all a matter of perspective. I’ve been planning to get to Australasia for about 5 years now but in the meantime, we’ve made hundreds of memories closer to home. The last two years have taught me to appreciate what we have, the Scilly Isles were my 2021 highlight. I’m truly grateful to have experienced a dawn sail into Venice when it was still possible.
Do you have any cruises planned for the near future?
Only one which is really unusual! It’s because we are desperate to do a big bucket list cruise to Australia and New Zealand possibly combined with a Pacific crossing to the States. Things are still very unsure in that region so we’re holding off but keeping the time free in case the perfect trip comes up! If it doesn’t, I shall fill the gap with some last-minute bargains, I’m sure! For now, it’s just Sky Princess in Northern Spain in September…
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