Guest post: Top tips shared by one of our beloved customers and Travel Heroes, Hazel Griffiths.
From the Arctic to the Caribbean…that sums up my life! For the past 8 years I have been a freelance cruise ship speaker, specialising in ‘Destinations’. This means I get to sail on various cruise ships in return for telling the guests all about the places they are going to visit. My goal is make sure they have a safe and enjoyable day during their time ashore. I am part of the entertainments team – so the talks have to be enjoyable as well as informative!
It sounds glamorous – and it can be. For example, last year I was flown to Nice to join a ship in Monaco and take a three week cruise to Istanbul. It was a six-star American ship – so very high end and a wonderful experience, with lots of champagne.
But what the guests don’t see, are the weeks of work I put in when writing my talks. Every port of call needs a 45 minute talk – and it takes about 50 hours work for each of these. So last year I spent 15 weeks at sea, and 35 weeks research and writing. All of this is unpaid so it is a real labour of love.
My passion is travel and this way I get to see the world by working my passage. Last year I went to the Canaries, the Med, the Arctic and the USA. This year I got to sail down to Buenos Aires – via the Carnival in Rio – then to the Baltic capitals – to Iceland and in November I set sail for the Caribbean.
These varied ports mean I need a large wardrobe of cruising clothes – to suit all climates and conditions – and to adhere to the cruise line dress codes. I love to buy clothes and jewellery overseas, especially unique pieces that no-one else at home will have.
Often a cruise can mean 6 different currencies are needed – and I can be called to go at short notice. After many experiences of being short-changed by Bureaux de Change I heard about FairFX. It is perfect for me. I have all 3 of their Currency Cards – the US Dollar, Euro and Everywhere Card. I keep them all topped up all the time – buying currency when I feel the rates are favourable. This also helps me budget for upcoming cruises. My income at home is low and irregular so finding a large sum at short notice could be a challenge.
Armed with my cards, I can use them to get cash from ATMs or to pay for goods directly. If using them to pay for goods directly, I always refuse the retailer’s offer to convert the local currency to the card currency in-store. I know it’s better to let the card issuer do the conversion.
I love the flexibility it gives me – I have to think ahead sometimes though. I was just doing a cruise to Iceland, after this I had to fly to Eastern Europe for a holiday in the mountains. I needed some Euros in cash but didn’t have time to get them before sailing. But as my ship was calling in Dublin – I could get Euros there, to use on my holiday. A few days later I was using my Everywhere Card to pay in Icelandic Krona at the cruise ports.
So what are the highlight moments of the past 2 years?
- Having a full house when I give a talk is always an adrenaline rush
- Dog-sledding in the Arctic Circle in winter – and seeing the Northern Lights
- Helicopter flight over the French Riviera
- Standing at the foot of Christ the Redeemer looking over Rio – and attending Carnival
- Sailing into New York at 6am and seeing the Statue of Liberty come into view
- Seeing the tango danced in Buenos Aires and paying homage to Eva Peron
My life is a rollercoaster. I have to be very disciplined and organised (I’m already doing my Christmas shopping as the Caribbean trip ends just 10 days before Christmas)!
But it is wonderful and I love my life!
About the author
Hazel Griffiths has worked as a freelance cruise ship speaker, specialising in Destinations, for the past 8 years. You can find out more about Hazel and her services on her website.
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