Hello everyone. I know many of you have been enjoying sharing the world cruise with James and the passengers and crew of the P and O ship Arcadia.

Well, I thought we might get to know him better and find out about his life at sea…..and so without further ado…..here is James Cusick.

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james-at-the-rail-prom-deck

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1. James, can you tell us about you. Where are you from and how has your journey taken you to your current position.

I was born in County Antrim Northern Ireland and educated at the College of Business Studies Belfast, followed by Llandrillo College – North Wales, studying Hotel and Tourism Management. I have worked in London England and Torquay in Devon in the Luxury Hotel Market. After working for three years in London as an Hotel Duty Manager and then Assistant Manager I got itchy feet and wanted to travel before ‘settling’ down! Hence I have been on the move now for 25 years and have never settled in one place! There are still places I wish to go. I commenced my career at sea with P&O Cruises in 1983 on the mv SEA PRINCESS fly cruising in the Mediterranean. Followed by my posting to P&O Australia. I then returned to P&O Cruises UK until 1985 when I transferred to PRINCESS CRUISES based in Los Angeles for Alaska, Mexican and Caribbean track Cruising. I so enjoyed working with the American Clientele and Colleagues which increased my experience and broadened my horizons within the Cruising Industry. I progressed through the ranks and grasped the opportunities that were given to me and finally returned to P&O Cruises as a Deputy Purser on board the CANBERRA. Thereafter I have continued my sea going career with P&O Cruises now part of CARNIVAL UK.I was promoted to the position of Executive Purser in 1999 for the launch of the world cruising class ship ARUROA. Since then I have had the privilege of holding the position of Executive Purser on Aurora, Victoria, Oceana, Adonia and Arcadia.

2. The job of Executive Chief Purser is one of the most important on board yet is one that many know little about. So, what are the responsibilities of the Executive Chief Purser on a P & O ship .

Purser is a traditional name in P&O Cruises for Hotel. This is why we talk about Purser’s desk etc. All the Hotel Officers used to have the word Purser in their title – for example I joined the Company as a Junior Assistant Purser – this title is now Assistant Manager. The Executive Purser is Hotel Command! Other companies refer to my role as Hotel Director. My areas of responsibility cover all aspects of the Hotel and Passenger Services which includes Retail outlets, Bars, Stores,money, Food and beverage, Accommodation etc. The Medical department and Entertainment also report to me. Basically everything that is not Deck or Technical. I report directly to the Commodore or Captain on board the ship. I also work closely with the Chief Engineer.

3. The ship has recently undergone an extensive refit. Can you highlight some of the changes and ……………..what are your own personal favourite areas on board.

The extension to the aft deck including the New Aquarius Bar is fabulous. All new big comfy chairs and sofa’s, its great in warm evenings to sit there with a glass of chilled wine and watch over the aft end at our wake as the sun sets. My favourite inside area is the authentic British RISING SUN PUB – named after P&O Cruises’ Logo. Also any Room with a dance floor – I love to dance! or indeed any room with a Grand Piano as music is my hobby.

4. Lets talk about a world cruise which for many of us is just a dream. Can you tell us about the route the ship will be taking and tell us the exciting places your passengers will visit.

Palma – First port of call on the voyage on sunny Mallorca. Passengers can enjoy seeing the wonderful cathedral and Almudaina Palace.

Athens – Capital city in the Land of the Gods. Passengers. Tours to visit the Acropolis, Cape Sounion and the Corinth Canal.

Port Said – Gateway to the bustling city of Cairo to view the mysterious Sphinx and the Pyramids.

Sharm – el – Shiekh – Situated at the foot of the Sinai Mountain range and base to see St Catherine’s Monastery or snorkel in the glorious Red Sea at Naama Bay.

Mumbai – our maiden call in India for tours around the city and environs. Magnificent Victorian buildings will hold the passengers spell bound.

Phuket – First port in Thailand and time to explore James Bond Island and ancient temples.

Penang – The Pearl of the Orient and time to see the 4th largest Reclining Buddha in the world.or maybe explore Georgetown by trishaw.

Port Kelang – Off to find Malaysia’s Garden City and home to some of the tallest structures in the world.

Kemaman – Our call is at Kuantan, the capital of Pahang and the largest state in Peninsular Malaysia. Beautiful scenic drives and boat trips through the mangroves.

Laem Chabang – Gateway to the exciting city of Bangkok home of the amazing Royal Palace that includes the Emerald Buddha Temple.

Ko Samui – Thailand’s third largest island that has superb powdery white sand beaches.

Singapore – Founded by Sir Stamford Raffles in 1819 that was once symbolic of the mystic orient. Tea at Raffles Hotel for a special treat.

Fremantle – Our first port in Australia on this maiden inaugural world voyage. Victorian splendour is all around us whilst Perth, capital of Western Australia is a short ride away.

Albany – Oldest continuous European settlement in Western Australia and important whaling base for over 130 years.

Adelaide – Fringed by sweeping hills this city of culture has a definite European feel. Great tours to the wine producing areas of the Barossa Valley.

Melbourne – Green and always welcoming and home to the Australian Open tennis and the Formula One Grand Prix.

Sydney – At 18.00 Arcadia will make her final approaches to the Circular Quay amidst cheers and ships horns. Soon our passengers will be able to explore the one off Opera House and venture out to see the stunning Blue Mountains.

Brisbane – State capital of Queensland this city has it all. The superb beaches of the Gold Coast and the excitement of Steve Irwin’s Australia Zoo.

Yorkey’s Knob – Once ashore we head for Cairns, the gateway to Northern Queensland. We tour to see Aboriginal lifestyles and ride the Kuranda Railway.

Guam – The Mariana Islands are home to sandy beaches and friendly people, discover old fortifications or maybe venture into the depths on the Atlantis submarine.

Nagasaki – Our maiden call in Japan and we can pay tribute to the lives lost in the Peace Memorial Park.

Xingang – Excitement mounts as we head off to the wonderful Great Wall of China and the Forbidden City. This will be an amazing day for everyone.

Shanghai – Bursting with old traditions yet ultra modern and where passengers can travel at 267 miles per hour by Maglav Train.

Hong Kong – Nothing prepares the passengers for our grand entry into Hong Kong’s harbour. This Chinese community will be alive and thrilling for one and all.

Halong Bay – A UNESCO World Heritage Site and our base for tours to Hanoi an amazing Viet Namese city.

Phu My – Our second Viet Namese call and here we can visit Ho Chi Minh city or maybe venture out up the Mekong River.

Sihanoukville – A popular beach resort in Cambodia and we stories of the Khmer peoples.

Langkawi – Largest of 99 islands in the archipelago that is shrouded in mystery. The clear beautiful waters and coral gardens will be stunning.

Cochin – Our second call in India and known as the Queen of the Arabian Sea. Passengers explore the beautiful backwaters of Kerala and gaze at the Chinese fishing nets.

Muscat – Our call in Oman’s capital affords the chance to sample beautiful scenic drives to the Hajar Mountains, drive over sand dunes or take a Dhow cruise.

Dubai – A blend of east, west, old and new where amazing building constructions are appearing out of the ocean. Words cannot express the buildings and the fabulous gold souks.

Safaga – This is our chance to see the Valley of the Kings and Karnak. The sheer scale of the Temple of Karnak is mind boggling.

Suez – Passengers will leave Arcadia here for the tours to the Pyramids in Cairo.

Civitavecchia – Our port for the Eternal City of Rome. Wander the remains of the Roman Forum, stand in awe at the Coliseum and hold your breath as we see inside the Basilica of St Peters.

Lisbon – Capital city of Portugal on the banks of the River Tagus. Explore the sites of Sintra and Estoril or wander the streets of the city to buy vintage port or the latest fashions.

Vigo – Almost home now and our final port. The Sacred City of Santiago de Compostela is a must for many whilst others enjoy he coastal beauty of Bayona.

5. How many of the passengers are staying for the entire voyage and can you tell us their demographics…………are they International or mostly British.

The majority of our passengers are British. We are very fortunate to have a good mix of passengers, previous experienced cruisers and those new to P&O CRUISES who are either doing the whole voyage or different legs.

6. When traveling to all these exotic destinations you will be dealing with authorities from many different countries. Are there any ports that for you are personally challenging

It is always challenging when any Visa requirements etc are laid down by the county that we are to visit which are beyond the control of the ship. Passengers often think that P&O CRUISES is a NATION in itself and beyond the powers of Individual Country Legislation outside a British Passport – however just as you would debark from an aeroplane into a new county a CRUISESHIP is bound by the laws of the land.

– Immigration Requirements are especially challenging in the United States,India,Egypt,Lybia,Singapore,China,Maylasia and Thailand.

– Port Health Inspections are mandatory for any vessel entering US Waters – also Australia.

7. And is there one port that you are really looking forward to visiting and why?

Australia, because I Love Australia as I completed my second tour of duty with P&O Australia on the ‘original’ ORIANA whose ‘Home Port’ was Circular Quay – Sydney – and cruised the South Pacific, visiting exotic destinations such as The Solomon Islands, Tonga and Thahaiti. After four months of these exciting voyages, I boarded the famous Indian Pacific Railway ‘First Class’ from Sydney to Perth – where I have close family. All very exciting………I only joined P&O CRUISES to reach Australia and I always love to return.

8. Being an Executive Chief Purser you must have come into contact with some wonderfully unique people. Is there one person you have met whom you will more than most never forget.

Her Majesty The Queen. This was at the naming ceremony of the Cruiseship ORIANA in 1995 at Southampton.

9. Congratulations on your blog which is superb. We all enjoy your writing and I know that it is not always easy to know what to write. How was the blog born and do you think you can write for the entire world cruise………..we certainly hope so.

‘I am and I will write till I die! Now that I have started there is no stopping me!

This all came about ‘out of the blue’ as they say. I received a phone call from my Hotel Director Neal Martin asking me if I would do this. The idea of a personal blog for P&O CRUISES had been discussed at Director Level and I was chosen. Like everything in life opportunity only knocks once so I said I would give it a go! After some gentle persuasion from Neal!!! I have never considered myself as a Travel Writer – I am really enjoying the blog – it has added another dimension to my job and my passengers and staff love it. They have given me the inspiration to keep going on with it. It is amazing when passengers I have never met before come up to me and say ‘I have read your website’ ‘I have read your blog”I am following your blog’ ‘you are the BLOG man!!’ and so it goes on therefore it has increased my already high profile with P&O Cruises and others further afield. All age groups are sending me messages – my youngest known fan ( outside my family circle) is 7 years old.

10. As is tradition in these interviews I would like to ask you to complete the blanks here as we discover your perfect Senior Officers table choosing your guests and your favourite menu items from onboard.

Here we go

1. APPETISER – Tian of Crab, Shrimp and Tiger Prawns with a mango and caviar dressing

2. MAIN COURSE 1 – Fillet of Beef with Roasted Chanterelle Mushrooms and Red Wine Sauce served with parmentier potatoes and baby carrots

MAIN COURSE 2 – Pan fried John Dory Supreme with Lobster potato crush, asparagus spears, grape and scallop cream

3. DESERT – Symphony of British Desserts, Miniature summer pudding with crème fraiche, miniature crème brulee, and rich chocolate tart

And now your table companions – James, So you have so many people that you know by name and have had the pleasure of dining with, it would be unfair to name. However, you could name who you would like to dine with?

SOMEONE FROM THE CRUISE INDUSTRY – John Heald – I have already dined with Mr. Micky Arison and his son!

SOMEONE TO MAKES YOU LAUGH – Sally Sagoe – Cruise Director P&O CRUISES

YOUR FAVOURITE ACTRESS – Helen Mirren – The Star of the UK Prime Time TV Detective Series ‘Prime Suspect’ and leading Lady in the BAFTA AWARD WINNING film The Queen.

YOUR FAVOURITE MUSICIAN – As a music expert myself I appreciate Elton John – for his inspirational song lyrics and his technical capability on the key board – superb entertainer and a great character.

SOMEONE FROM HISTORY YOU WISH YOU HAD MET – Isambard kingdom Brunel. He was a great British Engineer from the 19th Century who designed and built many Bridges and Railways. When I was studying History at school he was my hero! Strangely enough History and Geography were my favourite subjects and now I am able to experience first hand the knowledge gained all those years ago.

Thanks James for that terrific look at your life and experiences. I know we will all be stopping by www.bestblogsatsea.com to see what adventures you have been enjoying

We all wish you, the passengers and the entire ships company bon voyage.

Hi, I’m John, and this is my blog. So please don’t mistake my opinions — or those of my dear friends, fans or commenters — for those of Carnival Cruise Line or Carnival Corporation. My apologies in advance for anything I may say that upsets you, but this disclaimer covers Carnival and puts the blame directly on me………….. bugger.