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Meet the team: PJ Gould


Oceana’s shore excursions assistant PJ Gould tells us why he loves the cruise life and shares his top five shore excursions

PJ on Grand Cayman in the Caribbean, with Azura in the backdrop

PJ on an ATV (All Terrain Vehicle) Beach Adventure in St Lucia

How long have you worked for P&O Cruises and what drew you to the role?

I have worked for P&O Cruises for three years now: two years in Head Office working in the entertainment department and a year at sea. I’ve now worked on Oriana, Azura, Oceana and our flagship Britannia.


Before starting with P&O Cruises, I worked at sea as a stage production manager, so I’ve always had an interest in the entertainment side of cruising. But I decided to move over to shore excursions because of the chance to see more destinations, and explore the local cultures and traditions. There are so many once-in-a-lifetime opportunities in this role, too: within a week of joining P&O Cruises I had been on a helicopter trip, tried scuba diving and had off-road adventures. Wow!


Did you always want to work in the travel industry?

I’ve always had the travel bug. I was born in Africa and lived in the USA before moving to the UK, so I have always liked to explore. I actually did a degree in music production and worked for a while in the industry, but my wanderlust took over and since then travel and tourism have dominated my life. My motto is ‘travel is the only thing that makes you richer’. I often tell myself how lucky I am to be able to combine work and travel.


What does your day-to-day role involve and what do you like about it?

On port days, we run the operation of getting all of the guests on their tours, and where possible I will join them to experience these fantastic destinations and learn more. On board, I help guests to get the most out of their holiday, giving tips and advice, and sharing some of my experiences. Every day is different. I love finding a new favourite place and talking about it. The great thing with shore excursions is working face-to-face with both guests and our local tour operators in each destination. I love going out to explore these destinations, try new things and research our ports of call.


What are the benefits for guests of going on a shore excursion offered by P&O Cruises?
Once we find a tour we have all the information about it, including times, venues, transportation and tips. All of the tours we offer have been tried and tested, and they’re insured. We work closely with our operators to design the tours specifically for the needs of our guests. I think the best part is the peace of mind of knowing that the ship won’t sail without you if you’re on a shore excursion.

PJ on Grand Cayman in the Caribbean, with Azura in the backdrop

PJ enjoyed Grand Cayman in the Caribbean

How would you help a guest pick a shore excursion if they were unsure of what they wanted?
With such a huge selection of tours available, it can be difficult to choose. For this reason we categorise the tours into ‘Activity’, ‘Leisurely’ and ‘Something Different’. We use a guide symbol system to help guests find something that suits them. Our knowledge of the ports and destinations can also help guests decide what they’re really looking for – I always ask guests what the destination means to them and what their visions or expectations are in order to help them decide.


In your opinion, which are the five best shore excursions you’ve been on?
For adventure: St Lucia ATV and Beach Adventure – it’s a super trip off-road down to a private beach, with a few stops along the way to learn about the culture of the island.

For relaxation: Windjammer Beach Resort – the perfect way to wind down and get some beach time in St Lucia, surrounded by 60 acres of tropical beauty.

For culture: Historical Montenegro from Kotor – learning about the local history and culture of this wonderful country.

For education: Fire Mountain – on the volcanic island of Lanzarote, you head into the mountains and volcanic craters, where demonstrations of the heat include a bush catching fire while being pressed against a rock.

Something different: Game of Thrones shore excursion – following the HBO TV series, you go to the filming sites around Dubrovnik, including the Old Town.

What’s your favourite port of call so far, and which other ones would you love to visit?
My favourite so far has to be the Greek island of Santorini – it has a setting fit for any film, with charming colourful buildings and spectacular sunsets. It also offers some of the best food I’ve eaten and great shopping, too. The Greek people are very hospitable and certainly know the key to life with their famous drink, ouzo. In terms of future destinations, I’d love to explore Australia.

Has anything exciting happened on a shore excursion you’ve organised?
Exciting things happen all the time. Recently we were on an Evening Gondola Serenade tour in Venice and a gentleman approached me informing me that he planned to propose and asked whether we could arrange a separate route on his gondola so he could pop the question. As it was such a special occasion, the guide and I made the relevant arrangements. And I’m pleased to report she said yes!