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Meet the team: Alexander Percival


Britannia’s Assistant Entertainment Manager Alexander Percival talks to us about his passion for entertainment and competing with his mum on world travel

Britannia’s Assistant Entertainment Manager Alexander Percival on board with his mum

Alex’s love of the sea came from his mum, who worked for P&O Cruises as a senior nursing officer before he was born

How did your career path lead you to becoming an assistant entertainment manager for P&O Cruises?

I joined the company in 2011 and have been extremely lucky to have now worked on every ship in the P&O Cruises fleet. I’m currently an assistant entertainment manager on Britannia, although I actually started my career at sea as a member of the youth team on board Oriana.


My love of the sea came from my mum: she worked for P&O Cruises as a senior nursing officer for five years before I was born, and when I was just 18 months old, she took me on my first two-week holiday on SS Canberra. I was lucky to have lots more holidays with P&O Cruises throughout my childhood, and I loved them so much that, even as a child, I knew that I wanted to work on a ship.


During my A-levels, I trained to be a swimming instructor, lifeguard and basketball coach to prepare myself for becoming a P&O Cruises youth team member. I knew from all of the cruises that I’d been on throughout my childhood that this was a great way to start a career at sea.


After joining the youth team on board Oriana, I volunteered to assist the entertainment team in my free time to learn more about the roles available. I soon found that I loved working with people of all ages, and at the end of my first year at sea, I applied to become a junior entertainment host on Oriana. In 2012, I was thrilled to secure my first contract as part of the on-board entertainment team. Since then, I’ve been learning about all of the various aspects of running the entertainment on board P&O Cruises ships, and my hard work was rewarded in 2015, when I was promoted to assistant entertainment manager on board Britannia.


Have you always been interested in theatre and entertainment? 
I think my family would tell you that I was a born chatterbox and took the chance to perform for them whenever I could. I’ve always had an interest in theatre and entertainment, and started out with leading roles in school plays. If you heard me at karaoke, though, you’d realise that my enthusiasm outweighs my singing ability…


What are the key responsibilities of your role?
My day-to-day responsibilities are to support the entertainment team and make sure they are delivering the on-board entertainment programme to the highest standard. I also prepare, plan and check the entertainment section of Horizon, the on-board newspaper.


What’s the best thing about your job?
It’s not really a ‘job’ for me ­– I see it as a privilege to be working to make other people happy for a living. My role is to make sure guests enjoy the total P&O Cruises experience, allowing them to travel to new and exciting places, meet new and old friends, to be wined, dined and entertained, all in one place.  And along with the team, it’s my job to make sure that happens week in and week out. There’s nothing more satisfying than hearing guests tell you what a great holiday they’ve had and how you’ve made that happen for them.

Alex on SS Canberra when he was 18 months old

Alex’s first cruise was on SS Canberra when he was just 18 months old

What’s the most exciting thing you’ve been involved in with the on-board entertainment this year?  And are there exciting plans for 2017? 

Our Strictly Come Dancing themed cruises are definitely one of this year’s highlights for me. I’ve worked with the team before, including Craig Revel Horwood, Ian Waite and Natalie Lowe, and it’s such an exciting experience to have the glamour and talent right in front of your eyes. This year, I was asked to be a contestant and teamed up with a guest to perform on the stage in front of Anton Du Beke. It was challenging as I had very little time to practise, but it was an experience I’ll never forget. We got a score of seven by the way!


If 2016 is anything to go by – with some world-class acts such as Sam Bailey and The Overtones – then 2017 promises to be an amazing year. The new cabaret-style lounge on board Britannia allows guests to be close to the stage and stars, almost like a private performance. Our theatre on Britannia is unique, with a state-of-the-art LED wall that moves to create the most terrific lighting and scenery, enhancing each performance.


Do travel and entertainment mix well in your opinion?
Absolutely. What could be better than travelling to new destinations during the day and having a huge choice of shows every evening? As well as the evening entertainment, we offer traditional activities like deck quoits, table tennis, quiz shows and even bingo. Cruising is now more popular than ever, and the choice of ships in the P&O Cruises fleet means guests can choose from different travel destinations as well as smaller or larger ships, depending on their holiday preferences.

Have you always been interested in travel?

Travel has become a way of life for me since my first cruise as a child in 1992. In fact, there’s a world map on the wall at home and my mum and I compete on how many countries we’ve visited. It’s fairly even at the moment!

I’ve been extremely lucky to have visited so many wonderful places with my job, but there are always places left to visit – that’s what’s so special about it. New Zealand, the South Pacific and South America are still very much on my bucket list. In terms of places I’ve visited, it’s hard to choose a favourite, but Apia in Samoa takes some beating.


Where’s the best destination for entertainment in your experience?
The best thing you can do on any cruise is to immerse yourself in the culture and take in the local entertainment. I love to sit in a restaurant in a busy square and watch the world go by. One of the best experiences I’ve had was in Egypt when, after seeing the pyramids, we went on a riverboat cruise and had dinner with Egyptian belly dancers providing the entertainment.