Experts and celebrity guests
Look who’s joining us in 2020/21
Inviting celebrities, experts and VIP guests on board is another way of giving our cruise guests something extra special to look forward to. Whether it’s a famous face from stage or screen or an acclaimed expert offering fascinating insights into the places you visit, their free talks and demonstrations make our cruises even more memorable.
Food and drink
Jools Holland OBE DL is a composer, pianist, bandleader and broadcaster. From playing pubs in the East End docks as a teenage greaser, to leading his rhythm and blues orchestra and selling millions of records this century, it is his passion for music that has made Jools Holland into a doyen of the music scene.
Jools was awarded an OBE in 2003 for his services to the British music industry and in 2007 his autobiography, Barefaced Lies & Boogie-Woogie Boasts, hit the shelves.
Martin is a writer, presenter and journalist; and has also acted as adviser on the televised political sitcom, The Thick of It and the film, In The Loop. After completing his studies at Oxford, Harvard and the Sorbonne, Martin became the BBC’s correspondent in Moscow, Washington, Brussels, Geneva and Warsaw from 1980 until 1997. He then worked for the British government until 2002 as director of communications and press secretary to several cabinet ministers.
In 2013, Martin’s book, The Lost Child of Philomena Lee, was adapted for film and became the multiple Oscar-nominated Philomena, starring Steve Coogan and Judi Dench. His book, Ayesha’s Gift, a true-life murder mystery set in Pakistan, was published in 2017; and his novel, An Unquiet Heart, a love story set in the turbulent years of the Russian Revolution, was published in 2019.
Michael Scott OBE
Michael is now largely retired as a broadcaster, writer and conservationist, but still writes an occasional column for British Wildlife magazine. From 1991 to 2005, he was deputy chairman of Scottish Natural Heritage, and in 2005 he was awarded an OBE for his services to biodiversity conservation in Scotland. His book on (British) Mountain Flowers was published in 2016.
A botanist by training, Michael has a particular enthusiasm for arctic-alpine plants, but a wide interest in all aspects of the natural world. He is a regular guest speaker on cruise ships and can often be found on deck, helping passengers spot seabirds and assisting the Orca team in their search for whales and dolphins.
On selected cruises you will be joined by experts from ORCA, Europe's foremost whale and dolphin conservation charity. On days at sea, you can look forward to thrilling deck watches, and can even help volunteer to help collect valuable data for research. The ORCA team will give informative talks and sometimes there are opportunities to join special wildlife themed excursions.
Food and drink
Nick Nairn and Paul Rankin
Paul and Nick step on board to demonstrate cookery and hold a Q&A session.
A little bit about Nick
Nick began his career in the Merchant Navy and enjoyed the opportunity to sample street food as he travelled the world. On his return to Scotland he re-invented some of the dishes and realised his passion for cookery, going on to become Scotland’s youngest Michelin-starred chef at his very first restaurant. Nick now owns, teaches at and bases his business at the acclaimed Nick Nairn Cook School on the shores of the Lake of Mentieth, close to where he grew up. Nick has appeared on many television shows, including Ready Steady Cook, Great British Menu and Saturday Kitchen. He has authored ten books and is an avid food campaigner.
A little bit about Paul
Paul changed the face of culinary Northern Ireland when he opened Roscoff, the restaurant that was to become the first to win a Michelin Star in the country. Paul is probably best known for being one of the longest standing chefs on the popular television series Ready Steady Cook, and has appeared on many other programmes since then, including several of his own series, such as The Rankin Challenge. A successful cookery author, Paul's books include New Irish Cookery, Dublin Dining and Gourmet Ireland, to name but a few. He is also an ambassador and consultant for Sodexo’s education programme, inspiring healthy eating among children in UK schools. As well as all this, Paul has his own range of traditional Irish breads and sausages, which can be found in well-known supermarkets.
Conal is an international wine consultant and Master of Wine. There are only 380 Masters of Wine in the world – a qualification started in 1953 and boasting a third fewer Masters than qualified astronauts! Conal has been awarded both the Mercier Champagne Scholarship and Scotch Whisky Association Prize for his work.
For over 15 years, Conal has chaired panels for numerous competitions, including the International Wine Challenge; and has written highly acclaimed newspaper articles and books such as The Cognac Companion and the Caterer’s Guide to Drinks. Conal has also lectured at both Leith’s School of Food & Wine and the Tante Marie School of Cookery and was the wine presenter on ITV’s The Food Programme.
Rachel is a TV chef, author and journalist. She was brought up in Dublin and studied at the world-famous Ballymaloe Cookery School, where she still teaches today. In 2017 Rachel became co-presenter and judge on Channel 4’s My Kitchen Rules. She has also hosted 14 episodes of her own television series, as well as numerous other cooking shows broadcast across the globe.
Rachel is the author of 15 cookery books, selling over two million copies worldwide. She has written for newspapers and numerous publications, including regular contributions to Olive, Delicious, and BBC Good Food Magazine among others. In 2017, Rachel opened her first restaurant, Rachel’s, serving simple, naturally produced and delicious tasting food from the local Cork area.