For those of you who are regular readers of my blog, you will attest to the fact that the content is ordinarily about the travel misdemeanours in which I find myself when flying from cruise ship to cruise ship for over 30-40 engagements a year. (Therefore clocking up well over 80 flights per annum.) I rarely talk about my role onboard…as many of you read the blog because that is indeed where we met…onboard a ship after you had seen my show. But for those of you that may be new to my ruminations, due to the nature of this entry’s subject I will briefly synopsise.. everyone else bear with me.
My name is Jayne Curry and I’m a guest entertainer. In brief, I am afforded the inordinate privilege of working exclusively for Celebrity Cruises and traveling from ship to ship all over the world performing my one woman show to passengers onboard the spectacular vessels of the fleet. There. I said it would be in short.
My husband is PGA Golf Professional Steve Parry and due to the demands of his job as well as mine, our schedules can be somewhat haphazard. Its a constant effort to synchronise our lives so that he isn’t always away at a tournament or teaching at his academy when I am home, or that I am not always sailing solo. Steve travels with me on an odd occasion per year, more usually in the winter months and he has never made any bones about the fact that he LOVES cruising. He however, is convinced that he was a pirate in a former exsistence and he revels in the rare occasion that sea is a little choppy and he can channel his inner Jack Sparrow. More often than not he is disappointed.
This year however presented a brand new opportunity for us. Steve had previously been invited to tender for an inaugural project which would see the beautiful Celebrity Silhouette coincide its British Isles itinerary with the 144th annual ‘British Open’ golf tournament to be held at St Andrews Scotland. The home of golf. The ship would stay in port in Edinburgh overnight and Steve would escort guests to the penultimate and final rounds of the tournament.
With a little clever liaising with the entertainment department at Celebrity and a successful tender from Steve, it was arranged that we would travel together on the cruise, me as guest entertainer and Steve as the resident onboard Golf consultant. These were exciting and nerve wrecking times… Steve’s tender had included plans for onboard golf tuition, a VIP deluxe package that would take 26 passengers ashore to play golf at three of the UK and Ireland’s top links courses, a children’s golf workshop, putting and chipping clinics and at the suggestion of Celebrity, Steve had been asked to deliver a ‘Beyond the Podium’ guest lecture in the Celebrity theatre. He was fortunate enough to play in the ’British Open’ in 2007 at Carnoustie, Scotland and has many tales to tell about his appearance there and indeed his quest to qualify for the tournament since he was a youngster. As this was indeed the tournament that in a large part, the passengers had booked the cruise to see, this was an added bonus for them. A pro who played ‘The Open’… a pro who LOVED cruise ships… and a pro who can eat a lot!! All pre requisites for a successful cruise. All in all, the project was incredibly exciting. Steve was incredibly excited. It was ME who was nervous. How was I going to spend a full TWELVE DAYS with him in a stateroom on the ship??? Hahahah
Arriving in Amsterdam on July 14th a night before the cruise gave Steve and I a little opportunity to explore the city. Our hotel was near Schipol airport and after changing platforms several times, buying what we THOUGHT was a return ticket to the city centre and asking several lovely dutch folks for help, we eventually pulled into Amsterdam Centrale a grandiose building adjacent to the sea in the heart of the city and took a little time to explore before a scheduled planning meeting for the cruise. Amsterdam is a diverse and widely cultural city unlike anywhere else I have visited in Europe. I have been fortunate enough to visit the city many times over the years and though this was Steve’s first visit, we will undoubtedly be back. Top tip for exploring the streets of Amsterdam: keep your wits about you at all times. I’m not alluding to any potential crime which inevitably with any major city you need to be aware of, I am referring to the cornucopia of cyclists emanating from every direction at great speed. They really do have the right of way here. If you don’t look in every direction at every turn you WILL end up as a tangled mess of metal and clogs on the pavement.
As soon as we arrived onboard Steve was put to work. Shore excursions presentations, meetings and TV appearances on the daily cruise director show meant that for the first time on a cruise ship I was Steve Parry’s wife and he was not Jayne Curry’s husband. I liked it. I took great pleasure in teasing him about his new found fame. He made so many appearances on the TV and around the ship at presentations, meet and greets etc that I started calling him Steve Kardashian. He was so good at it though. He’s a naturally likeable amiable person and he took to the project like a duck to water.
The first port of call saw the first trip ashore for our VIP deluxe guests to ‘Royal Cinque Ports’ a true links style golf course with a challenging terrain to say the least. The passengers, from Australia, the United States and Switzerland, had never played true British links golf before and the course presented quite a challenge for many. Regardless of the long grasses and the undulating greens, everybody came off the course with a beaming smile on their face. They all knew they had experienced something they never had before and may never do again. Founded in 1892, the course is widely regarded as one of the best in England. The reception from the staff had been warm and welcoming, and above all new friendships were being formed. In Belfast they would play the famous ‘Holywood’ golf course.. home course of world number one golfer Rory Mc Ilroy. The passengers were able to have their photographs taken with his trophies that he kindly leaves displayed at the club. They could take the a souvenir score card home with his signature on it… even Rory’s dad was there. Again, once in a lifetime signature experiences. And at Cork City Golf club, the weather and scenery were sublime and another memorable day had by all. Over the three days of golf, the participants had been invited to play against each other in a golfing tournament. This is one of the many details that sets this golfing package apart from others available on the cruising market. They also had the chance to ‘beat the pro’ on one of the par three holes on the course..this certainly provided for some interesting banter and goading between Steve and the guests.. I know I’m biased, he’s my husband, but Steve is not only one of the highest qualified coaches in the United Kingdom with an excellent playing resume to back it up… but he is still actively competing as a golf professional at events both nationally and internationally. He walks the walk.. as well as talking the talk. I might be being unduly kind to him at this point.. but I was adamant that this time HE was paying the bar bill!
To see some of the passengers (and Steve) out on the courses and enjoying the signature golf package click on the link below.
Of course the highlight for many passengers on the cruise (well over 500 would attend) was the ships stop in Queensferry for Edinburgh and indeed the excursions to the British Open tournament.
As a Brit I can confirm that summertime is predicted to last for about an hour and a half on June 27th at 1pm each year…. in all seriousness, you CANNOT predict the weather in the United Kingdom at any time of the year and I had advised friends of ours who were travelling from the States to join us on this trip, to pack for every eventuality. Mother nature reared her ugly head on the first day we arrived in Edinburgh and the winds were too high for the ship to conduct a safe tender operation ashore. Twenty five mile per hour winds are the limit to which a lifeboat can be lowered to the sea to ferry passengers ashore and at forty five mph that day.. though the captain tried several times unsuccessfully, he had to abandon the days excursions ashore. Although very disappointing, it was made more bearable for many by the fact that barely any golf took place at St Andrews that day either as the adverse weather was blowing the golf balls about on the greens and play had been suspended. With a great deal of negotiations with head office in Miami, the shore excursion land operators and The R&A (organisation that operates the British Open tournament) the captain was able to make the decision to extend the stay in Edinburgh to the Monday as ‘The Open’ tournament would continue their play till then for only the second time in its history. And were were not about to miss it! Hoorah for the Captain!
However, as the ships tenders could not be lowered to take the guests ashore, neither could they be lowered to bring onboard the local Scottish folkloric act that was scheduled to appear in the theatre that evening.. At about 3pm I got a phone call from Harvey the Stage and Production Manager
“Hi Jayne.. I’m guessing you’ll know what this call is about?”
“I have a fair Idea” I replied. “you need to bring my show forward to tonight don’t you?”
“Is that possible?” Harvey asked.
“yeah yeah no worries.” I answered. “See you in rehearsals at 4”
Steve and I had been up since before 6am as we had been expecting to take the passengers ashore for the Golf. When it became apparent this might not happen I had headed back to bed for an hour but I usually don’t get up quite so early when I know I have a show that evening. I carb-loaded in the Oceanview Cafe (well that was my excuse!) and soldiered off to work and thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it. For those of you who Have seen my shows you will know I refer to Steve frequently in the content as it often provides for amusing and interesting anecdotes.. a cruise ship singer and a professional Golfer literally like ships passing in the night. But this time when I told the audience I was Steve’s wife there was a communal “aaahhhhhh” as if 1400 pennies had dropped, followed spontaneously by a round of applause. So no pressure then.. Steve’s already a hero onboard.. I had a lot to prove!
Eventually we made the final day of the golf tournament and though the weather was challenging at times, no amount of meteorological adversity was going to keep any of us away from the golf. The atmosphere was amazing. And the proximity to which you could watch some of the top golfers in the world do what they do best was truly awesome. There were big screens dotted around the course so you could keep up with the action elsewhere and the centre of St Andrews which was just a stones throw away provided a welcome rest bite for me to sneak off and have some proper British Fish and Chips. Nothing like it.
On the coach ride back to the port, a wind swept but jolly group shared their experiences with each other, what they’d seen… who had said hello, where they’d watched someone hole an awesome putt from 40 feet.. the sense that we had all been part of some thing very special emanated from these conversations like a visible buzz in the air.
Over the course of two subsequent evenings, Steve, the team from the Miami office, (Rebecca and JP) and many of the friendly officers hosted an evening of cocktails for the guests that had been to ‘The Open’ with Steve on the excursions. For the guests who had booked to play the golf courses and enter into the competition there was a dinner hosted in the fantastic ‘Tuscan Grille’ restaurant. The ships food and beverage team went all out to provide two spectacular evenings for the guests, making a cake that took the form of a golf hole and an ice sculpture carved to look like the Claret Jug no less, the infamous trophy the lucky winner of ‘The Open’ takes possession of for a year after their illustrious win. Photo opportunities for all, a little speech from Steve and even a musical contribution from myself ensured that everyone had opportunities to chat to Steve about his golf, drink copious amounts of free cocktails and for the golfing guests, enjoy a superb dinner in excellent company before a prize presentation for the tournament winners.
The ports of call on this British Isles cruise warrant a mention of their own. In particular, one of my favourite parts of the UK is a place I only myself discovered last summer. Guernsey is an Island in the English Channel which is closer in proximity to the coast of France but is a part of the UK and was occupied by the Germans during the second World War. As a result there in an incredibly eclectic European feel about the place. War memorials sit alongside beautiful French Bistro’s and English Tea rooms. The town of St Peter Port is a beautiful little idyl nestled neatly into the side of the hill. Rising above the beautifully rugged coastline of cliffs lined with acres of beautiful fields, we watched the scenery slowly illuminate with the glow of early morning as the ship made its way into the bay. We spent our day in the restaurant which is a firm favourite of mine on the harbour. ‘Mora’ is a European inspired restaurant with flair for fresh seafood and as I have mentioned in previous blogs, one of the best seafood linguini’s I have ever tasted. But today for once I was able to share one of these favourite places with Steve.. one of the places I so often frequent alone. Better still our friends from the US who had booked the trip to travel with us could come too. ‘American Mom and Dad’ as they have been affectionately named after virtually adopting us with their kindness every time we travel stateside, could now share in the fabulous seafood platter, and delicious wine and breads and lovely service and of course the seafood linguini. It was a hit. A great day was had by all and to top off the finale of a spectacular trip, the British summer time even made a brief appearance. Great times.
Since the inaugural ‘Signature British Open Cruise’ I am flushed with pride to announce that the shore excursion to ‘The Open’ has won a ‘Magellan Travel Award’. Huge congratulations to everyone involved, both on the ship and the team in Miami.
Furthermore, the project was so successful and sold out in such a short space of time last year that in 2016 the package has been expanded to incorporate more guests so this amazing experience can be shared by more people. Steve has recruited two more golf professionals to travel with him on the cruise, and this year Celebrity are proud to announce that they have secured tee times for the guests to play at ‘Royal Liverpool’ a fantastic course which hosts ‘The Open’ tournament on a regular basis. (and a favourite of Steve’s)
I don’t know about you… but i’m excited already!!
For more information or to book your place on the 2016 ‘Signature sailing British Open’ cruise with Steve and I, click on the links below:
To book the cruise…..
British Open Shore Excursions:
1. 2016 British Open Championship at Royal Troon: http://www.celebritycruises.com/plan-a-cruise/shore-excursions/productDetails?productCode=GE65&productId=100000002973308199
2. 2016 British Open Golf Aficionado Experience: http://www.celebritycruises.com/plan-a-cruise/shore-excursions/productDetails?productCode=J702&productId=100000002916527921
3. 2016 British Open and Tee Time Packages: http://www.celebritycruises.com/plan-a-cruise/shore-excursions/productDetails?cid=sm_int_tw_clbrty_1501_sxeu_twt_all_3298&productCode=GE66&productId=100000002973308463