So there I was, standing next to the man I had cooked on countless television programmes.
Italian chef Gennaro Contaldo was onboard Anthem of the Seas to open Jamie Oliver’s latest sea-based restaurant and my timing could not have been better. With barely a soul in sight, I grasped the opportunity to say hello.
‘Never meet your heroes,’ the saying goes, but this was definitely one case where that was not true. A mirror image from his television work, Gennaro was a true gentleman, and his trademark larger-than-life character was clear to see.
Six months prior, I stood on Quantum of the Seas in touching distance from Jamie Oliver, and gadget geek Jason Bradbury, from Channel 5’s The Gadget Show. Sadly, I couldn’t get close enough to shake hands and snap selfies, but that’s the world of celebrity spotting for you!
Some people choose to spot celebs at movie launches, but I like to find them on cruise ships!
Where to find celebrities onboard
Ever more celebrities are taking to the high seas, and cruise lines are as keen as mustard to sign up superstars to sail with them.
Celebrity chefs are a popular choice, with culinary demonstrations and even cookery lessons on the cards.
Famous television stars, novelists, gardeners, dancers, and musicians can also be found aboard selected sailings. Celebs usually take part in either a performance or a lecture. Often, they will also host an event, where you can learn insider secrets, ask questions, and perhaps take a selfie or two.
Take note from my experience above. Timing, crowds, and personalities will determine how close you can get to a celebrity. Some are more forthcoming than others, and some cruise lines are better than others at facilitating meet and greets in various forms.
P&O Cruises’ Food Heroes° can often be found onboard their ships.
TV celebrity chef James Martin, jolly wine guru Olly Smith, Michelin-starred chefs Atul Kochhar and Marco Pierre White, French master pâtissier Eric Lanlard, and cheese expert Charlie Turnbull make up the dream team.
On selected Food Heroes cruise holidays you can enjoy live cookery demonstrations, masterclasses, hosted dinners, book signings, Q&A sessions, and even hosted food or wine related shore excursions in certain ports of call.
You may need to pre-book some classes, some of which may incur an additional fee.
|23 July 2017||Ventura||Atul Kochhar||12 night Canary Islands, Portugal & Spain°|
|4 August 2017||Ventura||Marco Pierre White||7 night Spain, Portugal and Guernsey°|
|4 September 2017||Britannia||Eric Lanlard|
|12 night Spain and Canary Islands°|
|16 September 2017||Britannia||Marco Pierre White||14 night Spain, France and Italy°|
|17 September 2017||Ventura||Marco Pierre White||12 night Canary Islands and Portugal°|
|8 October 2017||Azura||Marco Pierre White||12 night Portugal and Spain°|
|15 October 2017||Ventura||Atul Kochhar||12 night Spain and Canary Islands°|
|16 March 2018||Britannia||James Martin||14 night Caribbean and Azores°|
|8 April 2018||Britannia||Eric Lanlard||14 night Canary Islands and Portugal°|
|13 April 2018||Azura||Atul Kochhar||14 night Spain, France and Italy°|
|21 April 2018||Ventura||Atul Kochhar||13 night Portugal and Canary Islands°|
|4 May 2018||Ventura||Atul Kochhar||7 night Spain, Portugal and Guernsey°|
|6 May 2018||Azura||Olly Smith||13 night Canary Islands and Portugal°|
|13 May 2018||Britannia||Eric Lanlard||7 night Norwegian Fjords°|
|17 June 2018||Britannia||Marco Pierre White||7 night Norwegian Fjords°|
|24 June 2018||Britannia||Marco Pierre White||14 nights Scandinavia and Russia°|
|20 July 2018||Ventura||Atul Kochhar||7 night Guernsey, Portugal and Spain°|
|5 August 2018||Ventura||Marco Pierre White||12 nights Spain, Canary Islands, and Portugal°|
|19 August 2018||Britannia||Eric Lanlard||14 night Spain, Monaco and Italy°|
|2 September 2018||Britannia||Eric Lanlard||7 night Norwegian Fjords°|
|9 September 2018||Britannia||Eric Lanlard||7 night Spain and Guernsey°|
|15 September 2018||Azura||Marco Pierre White||13 nights Canary Islands, Portugal, and Spain°|
|18 September 2018||Ventura||Marco Pierre White||17 nights Spain and Greece°|
|30 September 2018||Britannia||Marco Pierre White|
|12 nights Spain, Canary Islands, and Portugal°|
|26 November 2018||Ventura||Olly Smith||13 nights Canary Islands°|
P&O Cruises doesn’t just stake a claim to fantastic foodie experiences. The cruise line also hosts a selection of Strictly Come Dancing themed sailings.
On each ‘Strictly’ cruise, you can enjoy stunning dance performances. There are also opportunities to meet the stars, learn some moves, ask questions, hear some gossip from behind the scenes, and the chance to see some amazing costumes from the show.
|2 April 2017||Azura||Giovanni Pernice and Oti Mabuse|
Kevin and Karen Clifton
Craig Revel Horwood
|14 night Spain, France and Italy°|
|30 April 2017||Ventura||Giovanni Pernice and Joanne Clifton|
Neil and Katya Jones
AJ Pritchard and Chloe Hewitt
Craig Revel Horwood
|14 night Spain and Italy°|
|4 June 2017||Britannia||Craig Revel Horwood|
Janette Manrara and Aljaz Skorjanec
Giovanni Pernice and Oti Mabuse
|14 night Scandinavia and Russia°|
|25 June 2017||Britannia||Janette Manrara and Aljaz Skorjanec|
Karen and Kevin Clifton
Craig Revel Horwood
|14 night Spain, France and Italy°|
New for 2017, Princess Cruises has put together a line-up of guest speakers as part of its Princess’ Encounters with Discovery speaker series. The speakers will appear on selected spring and summer itineraries from Southampton aboard Crown Princess between April and September.
Each speaker will host a 45-minute discussion as well as a meet and greet session complete with photographs and book signings. Some speakers will also become judges on ‘The Voice of the Ocean’, the ship-based singing competition for guests.
|22 April 2017||Katie Nicholl (Royal correspondent and commentator)|
Harry Redknapp (former footballer and manager)
|14 night Mediterranean Adventurer|
|6 May 2017||Beverley Callard (Actress – Liz McDonald in Coronation Street)||7 night Spain & France|
|13 May 2017||Harry Redknapp (former footballer and manager)||14 night Mediterranean Adventurer|
|27 May 2017||Graham Gooch OBE (former England cricket captain)||7 night Scandinavia|
|17 June 2017||Peter Shilton OBE (former England goalkeeper, football manager)||14 night Midnight Sun & Summer Solstice|
|1 July 2017||John Virgo (former snooker player, snooker commentator)||7 night Norwegian Fjords|
|8 July 2017||Terry Butcher (former England captain and football manager)||14 night Baltic Heritage|
|22 July 2017||Paul Burrell RVM (butler to Diana, Princess of Wales)||7 night Norwegian Fjords|
|29 July 2017||Mike Gatting OBE (former England cricket captain)||14 night Mediterranean Adventurer|
|12 August 2017||Sherrie Hewson (actor, presenter, broadcaster, novelist)||14 night North Cape & Norwegian Fjords|
|26 August 2017||Edwina Currie (former MP, novelist, broadcaster)||7 night Scandinavia|
Over 50’s cruise specialist Saga often hosts celebrities on its sailings.
- Radio and TV broadcaster ‘Diddy’ David Hamilton will sail on Saga Sapphire‘s 14-night Canaries to Casablanca cruise° that sails from Southampton on 1 December 2016. David, who presented BBC Radio 2’s afternoon show in the 1970s, will host a presentation on the ‘History of Radio.’
- Bake Off: Crème de la Crème winner Mark Tilling will sail on Saga Sapphire on a 14-night Spanish Adventure cruise°, departing Southampton on 28 October 2017. Learn tricks of the trade as the Master Chocolatier hosts patisserie demonstrations, chocolate-themed workshops, and dinners.
Disclaimer: All the itineraries and appearances listed above are subject to change. Occasionally cruise lines have to change itineraries or celebs are unavoidably unavailable. Check with each cruise line above for the very latest details.
Would you book a cruise just to see a celebrity? Who would you most like to meet? Leave a comment below.