The new documentary with Princess Cruises starts this evening on ITV. We catch up with Dirk Brand, the general manager and one of the show’s stars, to find out what to expect…
How long at have you been with Princess Cruises?
I started in 1988 when Grand Princess was the biggest cruise line in the world.
How did you start out in the cruise industry?
Before I started on Grand Princess as food and beverage manager, I worked in the hotel industry for InterContinental Hotels. I did an apprenticeship in Germany first and then worked all around the world with the brand: South Africa, Bahamas and Germany. But I love what I do now – waking up everyday in a different place, cruising around the world and making the guests and crew happy – you can’t get much better than that.
What has been your funniest experience on a ship so far?
Previously I was on QM2 (Cunard) for 1 ½ years and on the QM2 you get a lot of special requests. Once, we had one very famous guest on the ship who brought his dog on board. The dog had very specific requests and instructions for the dog who was basically a vegetarian. I found this very funny. I experience so many things every single day but I think the vegetarian dog was one of the funniest.
What can viewers find out about Royal Princess and Princess Cruises in this documentary?
I think it’s amazing that the guests can really see how much work goes on behind the scenes and how much passion and dedication the crew puts in. It’s nice to see all the positive sides of the cruise industry. You can see how the ship operates from the back of house which I think that’s the most interesting part of the documentary.
What was your highlight of the filming process?
When you get confident filming, you get comfortable with the team and it can be really fun. The team works really well with each other. It’s all really natural and that’s what I like the most.
My highlight would have to be when we went to our little private island in the Bahamas. We do the catering for all the guests there and so we have to bring all the food and everything for the bars and the BBQ ashore. Me and one of my assistants, Dennis, went ashore to do a bit of an undercover inspection but they busted us as soon as we got off the ship which was pretty funny. We were in sunglasses and we were pretending we were with the crew but as soon as we stepped off the ship they were like, “Oh hi boss how are you” and I just couldn’t believe it.
How did you get on with the crew?
The crew in particular were a little bit nervous and shy at first but generally they treated me the same as they would do normally, you know.
Did you feel nervous?
A little at the beginning but then you get used to it and I enjoyed it actually.
Why would you recommend first-time cruisers watch this programme before booking their first cruise with Princess?
You get a really good idea of what cruising is about and suggestions about how to make the most of it. I think you appreciate the product a bit more when see how much the crew does behind the scenes. You know, sometimes you get a nice meal and it looks beautiful and tastes good but if you see how much work goes into it and the challenges that are faced then you appreciate it a bit more.
Catch The Cruise Ship on ITV this evening at 9pm.
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