Personal Backgroundread more ↓
I have spent the majority of my working life as a consultant Project Manager in the London insurance market, working primarily for Lloyd’s of London and related organisations. Around the turn of the century, I was looking for a new challenge that could initially co-exist alongside my consultancy business. Having been a passenger for almost 20 years, buying a cruise agency franchise seemed an ideal way to merge my organisational and business skills with a subject I was passionate about.
So, we joined “Cruise Specialists”. An intensive learning process was cut short when the Cruise Specialists franchisor went into administration. This proved a blessing in disguise when we were approached by Victoria Travel, who were about to launch GoCruise. As a result, in 2002 we became one of the first GoCruise franchisees and have been running our agency ever since. Now with Fred. Olsen Travel as the franchisor, we have the backing of one of the country’s top cruise agencies.
Tina, joint owner of our GoCruise franchise, ran her own beauty therapy and hairdressing business for a number of years and is also a qualified interior designer. Her passion for cruise was ignited following her first trip in 1997 and so she was already hooked before I floated the idea of becoming cruise specialists. Tina has been running our franchise for over 10 years and her experience dealing with customers in other service industries has made her a favourite with a number of our clients.
The final and newest member of our team is our son, Dan. Just 6 when we started the agency, Dan is fast becoming a regular in the GoCruise office as he progresses towards his goal of becoming a deck officer, working on board one of the many cruise ships we send our clients on.close ↑
Why GoCruise with Tony Hammondread more ↓
The passion for cruising that we gained from travelling as passengers has grown stronger over the years as we have become more involved within the industry. One of our first aims was to forge links with all the cruise lines and we have maintained these links, building up a personal and professional rapport with many influential industry figures. We have also ensured that we are always up to date with the latest developments in a fast moving world, by undertaking regular training, attending industry events and ship visits.
All of this, whilst benefitting the running of our business, primarily benefits our clients. We pride ourselves on being able to listen to our clients and prospective clients, understand what it is they want from a holiday and utilise our knowledge to place them on the right ship and itinerary for them. We have always said that there is a ship to suit everyone and it is our job to find it.
Links with Fred. Olsen Travel and the numerous cruise lines provide us with the best deals in the industry, enabling us to provide the best value for money for our clients, whatever the budget.
Although the majority of our contact with clients is over the phone or by email, we also operate a home visit service for those residing in Kent and East Sussex. This proves especially popular with those clients who are new to cruising, or have more complicated requirements.
We also operate ship visits throughout the year, allowing clients to get a short taste of life on a cruise ship, whether totally new to cruising or just a change of cruise line.
For the more complicated requirement, we can also package a tailor made itinerary, all fully protected under the Fred Olsen ATOL and GoCruise ABTA bonding.close ↑
Cruise Experienceread more ↓
Cruising for over 30 years has provided many memories. From transiting the length of the Panama Canal on P&O’s Oriana to sailing out of Venice on Golden Princess. From spending Christmas on Holland America’s Maasdam to watching the Blue Man Group on Norwegian Epic.
Different cruise lines, different ships, amazing itineraries, superb food and dazzling entertainment.
Cruising literally opens a world of opportunities, but for me the best so far has to be a 3-week trip across the Canadian Rockies and Alaska. The Rocky Mountaineer train (has to be Gold Leaf), 7 night Princess cruise and 7-night Alaska tour. A great way to see some of the most spectacular scenery and wildlife on the planet.
A year after that trip I put my experience to practical use and organised a bespoke Alaskan itinerary for a client, re-living some of the highlights along the way.
The different cruise lines offer varying levels of service and often a different type of cruise. But even ships within the same line can offer their own particular experience. Sometimes this is due to the facilities on board, but can also be down to the individual crew members who go that extra mile to provide you with the best possible holiday.
I have no ‘one favourite ship’ for that very reason. Royal Caribbean Independence of the Seas has superb facilities. Coral Princess, when I cruised on her a few years ago, had the friendliest and happiest crew I have ever come across. For luxury cruising, the value for money offered by Oceania Cruises is hard to beat, with Oceania Marina and Riviera providing superb accommodations. But if I had to choose ‘one ship’ that really sticks in the memory, it would be the experience of ocean travel as it used to be on board QE2.close ↑