Tips For Travellers: An Interview With Gary’s Husband, Mark
Tips For Travellers: An Interview With Gary’s Husband, Mark
Hello! I’m Danielle, and some of you may know me from my own blog CruiseMiss. I’ve known Gary for many years and I help him keep his Tips For Travellers blog up to date and interesting. It struck me that viewers of his popular YouTube channel get to meet and catch-up with Gary’s husband, Mark, once a month when he joins Gary’s weekly Livestream. So, I thought now was a good time to do a Q&A session with Mark and introduce him to you. I hope you enjoy getting his take on cruising and finding out which cruise line he enjoys the most!
Danielle: Gary first introduced you to cruising several years ago. What were your initial and most honest reactions? Was it something you were open to doing or did he have to give you a push?
Mark: Well, I was definitely open to it. At the time we were trying to do different holidays and look at different things to do and although a cruise hadn’t been the top of my list, I was definitely open for trying it.
Danielle: But what sort of cruise had Gary talked you into doing, and why did he suddenly have this idea about you going cruising?
Mark: So, Gary had been at a marketing conference on a cruise ship and this was the first time he’d actually been on a cruise ship. We initially did a very short three-day cruise with P&O Cruises, just to see if we liked it. When we discovered we did, we then went on to do a transatlantic crossing on the QE2. I think at the time we were trying to do all those things that you can do. So, fly on Concorde, go on the QE – all the kind of iconic things.
Danielle: Had you been on Concorde?
Mark: Yes, we’d been on Concorde. Well, Gary had been on it a number of times. I’d been on Concorde, I think, a year or two before.
Danielle: Having now cruised several times, which line for you is your preferred and why?
Mark: I think if I had to choose one, I would choose Cunard. And it’s hard to explain why I like it so much. We are lucky that we travel in Queens Grill when we sail, and the Queens Grill restaurant, I think, is amazing. You get your own table in the restaurant for the duration of your cruise, the service is amazing, the food, for me, is just perfect. It’s not too fussy. It’s great quality and I like the size of the ships. I like the casinos. They have the entertainment and they have… For me, it just works. And you feel very pampered, looked after. I think they make you feel very special.
Danielle: Does it have to be Queens Grill? Obviously you could go in Britannia and you’d have your own table and own waiting staff. What is it about Queens Grill that makes it different?
Mark: In Queens Grill, you just get those added special touches. They treat you in a special way. You have your butler service in your large suite. Queens Grill restaurant, you can dine any time. They have very high quality food. You can order off menu if there’s nothing you want on there. They really look after you. I value my holiday time. I have a full-time job, a busy job, so if I’m going to do something, it’s really nice to do it with a bit of luxury added in.
Danielle: Do you have a favourite Cunard trip you’ve been on?
Mark: Yeah, Gary and I did a seven-week cruise on Queen Victoria from Southampton to Sydney. Obviously via lots of places in between – that was half of Cunard’s world cruise. They do a world cruise every year from January. I was a little nervous of doing that, thinking, “Wow, seven weeks on a cruise ship. Am I going to hate it?” But I actually loved it and I could have stayed on and did the whole world cruise.
Danielle: We know that you like to visit the onboard casino, you mentioned that earlier. Have you had any big wins and do you have any tips for others that may like to have a flutter when on board?
Mark: I don’t know that I’ve had any huge wins. It’s interesting because we go to Vegas a lot as well. And in Vegas I probably played the slot machines more than the tables, partly because the table minimums in Vegas are quite high. They may be $25 a hand, but on the cruise ships they tend to be lower, maybe $5, $10 minimums. So, I play almost only blackjack when I’m on the ships. The thing I love about blackjack is unless you are very unlucky or you completely don’t know how to play, then you can often play for a very long time and you’ll be up a bit, you’ll be down a bit, up a bit, down a bit. But I, very often end the night with exactly the same money as I started with.
I also find blackjack a really sociable game. You’ve got five or six people around the table that you get to know and get to chat with and I really like that. My tips for games like blackjack is to just learn it. There are rules of how you theoretically should play blackjack. So, when you should take a card, when you shouldn’t take a card, depending on what card you have and what card the dealer has. It’s good to understand that. Some people don’t stick to those rules, but it’s good to understand the basic rules. And I tend to always play with those.
Danielle: Tips for Travellers has become massively successful over the years, apparently. But how do you feel about Gary being away so frequently? Do you wish you could join him on more trips or does the balance between the way it works work well for you?
Mark: Well firstly, I’m super proud of Gary and what he’s achieved with Tips of Travellers. This has become a second career for Gary. He had semi-retired and decided to do what was originally travel blogging, a little bit more, that then turned into a YouTube channel.
So in terms of him being away, yes, he’s away a lot. But when Gary had his global marketing job, he travelled maybe even slightly more. When I first met Gary, he was travelling three weeks of every month doing a round the world trip every month. So, what he does now is actually less than that. For me, I think it’s healthy for a relationship to have some time apart and if I can have a week a month where I can do my own thing, watch what I want on TV, eat the food I want to eat, it works for me. Do I wish I had been on more trips with him? Absolutely. I’d love to. But, equally, I have a job and a career and it doesn’t quite work at the moment.
Danielle: Have there been any sailings that Gary’s done recently that you really wish you could have been there with him for, either because of the shoreside experiences or the ship?
Mark: Well Gary did go on the Queen Elizabeth recently, which obviously is the same style ship as Queen Victoria and it was on Cunard and, therefore, I was jealous of that because I always like going on Cunard. Gary’s also about to go on Regent Seven Seas, which is a line that I’ve wanted to try for a while. I’d go on all of them if I could, but I just have to acknowledge that I can’t. And to be honest, if there’s one I really want to go on, I do try and build that into my holiday plans for the year.
Danielle: Building on that, you’ve both been to some truly incredible places over the years. But where in the world could you continue to visit and never get bored with? Maybe a country or a region?
Mark: Okay, so there’s a couple of those. We’ve been lucky to go to the French Polynesian Islands once and did the Paul Gauguin cruise – that was amazing. And if you look at where the French Polynesian Islands are on a map, they are just slap in the middle of the South Pacific and it’s amazing to think that that’s where you are. We’re going to be fortunate enough to go again this year. And that’s somewhere that I’ve wanted to return to for a long time. I feel you would never get bored of the paradise feeling that you get when you are there. I’m also a big fan of the US. It is a little bit outside cruising, but I enjoy going to the US. I love doing the Transatlantic crossings on the Queen Mary 2.
Danielle: Where in the world are you still looking forward to visiting for the first time?
Mark: I have done very little of South America. We’ve been on a cruise where we’ve been to Columbia and that’s about it. So, I would love to explore that more. I’d love to explore more islands and more obscure places, but I think South America has been on my list for a long time and I’ve just never quite made it.
Danielle: What is your next cruise with Gary? Where to and what ship?
Mark: My next cruise is in June and we’re doing the Paul Gauguin cruise around the French Polynesian Islands. This time we’re going there, having a couple days in Tahiti, doing the Paul Gauguin cruise (which is a week’s cruise around the Society Islands) and then we are having five days in Bora Bora, which we didn’t do the last time we went. So I’m really looking forward to that.
Danielle: One final question. What tip or suggestion would you have to somebody who’s never been cruising and thinks cruising is not for them?
Mark: I think what they will find is there is a cruise line that would suit them and the most important thing to do is work out what you want from a cruise before you decide the cruise you’re going on. So, for example, do you want to dress for dinner or do you want to be able to wear your shorts for dinner? Do you want a small ship or do you want a large ship which has got water slides and go-karts? Do you want it to be adults only or family friendly? There’s lots of factors like that. I think you think about what you want from a cruise and that will help you filter down what is the right cruise line for you and give it a go. Do a short cruise to start with. See if you like it.
Danielle: Thank you.
Mark: Thank you, Danielle.
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