From Danube to the Nile River, Ellen Bet­tridge is never land­bound for long. The pres­i­dent and chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer of Uni­world Bou­tique River Cruises shares with Jes­sica Chan the best bolt­holes in the world.

Epicure (Indonesia) - - CONTENTS -

Ellen Bet­tridge, pres­i­dent and chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer of Uni­world Bou­tique River Cruises

The nu­mer­ous stamps on Ellen Bet­tridge’s pass­port draw envy. The pres­i­dent and chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer of Uni­world Bou­tique River Cruises has ticked off most of Europe, the United King­dom and big bucket list spots like Egypt - on­board the lux­ury cruise line’s River Tosca - be­fore join­ing the com­pany in 2016. Her decades of ex­pe­ri­ence in hos­pi­tal­ity, with Amer­i­can Ex­press, Sil­versea Cruises and Aza­mara Club Cruises, puts her in good stead to over­see the multi­na­tional staff and 19-ship fleet. The 52-year-old also man­ages the brand’s lat­est Su­per Ship (S.S.), a term for ships up­graded with more suites, restau­rants and luxe fin­ishes. Re­cently, she joined the crew of S.S. Beatrice along the Danube River. Next on her plate: the launch of S.S. Bon Voy­age in Bor­deaux next April.

What does Uni­world have in-store for 2019?

As a com­pany, we are ahead of the curve. Our cus­tomers live hec­tic lives and want to be pam­pered to the hilt. It was a nat­u­ral de­ci­sion to re­brand our pop­u­lar ships into S.S., but the up­grade of­fers more than just added suites and din­ing op­tions.

See­ing that our guests are get­ting more in-tune with their health, we’ve added well­ness coaches

and Go Ac­tive ex­cur­sions. The lat­ter pro­vides a range of hik­ing, bik­ing or walk­ing tours through the cities. The Ganges Voy­ager II, which re­launched this month, will see ex­pert yo­gis from Delhi of­fer­ing yoga and med­i­ta­tion classes while the restau­rants serve up or­ganic meals. I’m most ex­cited about the S.S. Bon Voy­age (pre­vi­ously named River Royale) as it will take the food and wine ex­pe­ri­ence of Bor­deaux to new heights. There’s go­ing to be chef demon­stra­tions in the din­ing room, a Bouil­lon Pi­galle-in­spired bistro and ad­di­tional bi­cy­cles for guests to ex­plore the wine re­gion’s beau­ti­ful land­scapes on their own.

The best part about your job?

Hands down, it’s the let­ters from our guests. Just the other day, an old cou­ple sent me a hand­writ­ten one with pho­tos. It was adorable. The wife started off by say­ing, “I’ve never writ­ten a love let­ter to a cruise line.” They were on their sixth Uni­world cruise as her hus­band had Alzheimer’s and she be­lieved it to be their last cruise. On the night of the Cap­tain’s Din­ner, he had for­got­ten how to tie a tie. The room stew­ard jumped right in to help. Hi­lar­i­ously, the cap­tain ex­claimed, “I can do bet­ter than that,” and dropped what­ever he was do­ing to redo his tie. There’s a photo of him in a bath­room with a crazy hat and a makeshift tur­ban. They had bump into a bunch of Aus­tralians who de­cided they were go­ing to have a py­jama party on the top deck. Best of all, her hus­band won first prize.

Share with us your own river cruise ex­pe­ri­ences.

Years ago, I went on­board the River Tosca with my then 15-yearold daugh­ter. It sailed through the Nile River, tak­ing us along the pic­turesque Aswan. We got to see the Abu Sim­bel tem­ples, Val­ley of the Kings and Val­ley of the Queens. The guide, who was a high school his­tory teacher, ac­tu­ally stocked up on trin­kets to give away as prizes for an­swer­ing his lit­tle quizzes. My daugh­ter learned so much; she even made a small pre­sen­ta­tion for her friends back at school.

My hus­band joined me on­board the River Count­ess last year, and it was the first time I’ve felt re­laxed in years, We got to en­joy

ex­cur­sions to Bologna and

Bu­rano. The lat­ter, known for its vi­brant fish­er­men houses, lace-mak­ing and seafood, made for a great day trip. My favourite was when we got a pri­vate tour of St. Mark’s

Basil­ica at night. Not only did we skip the snaking queues and crowd, a his­to­rian joined us as a guide. She took us be­hind the al­tar (a re­stricted area) and down to the cat­a­combs with only can­dles as a light source.

It was like I was in­side a movie.

My most re­cent cruise was with the S.S. Beatrice in Vi­enna. At night, it would move its dock­ing po­si­tion and sail in front of the par­lia­ment. It’s the best view with the mes­meris­ing lights danc­ing against the cool, dark sky.

I also loved the cook-off on the ship’s Max’s Restau­rant. I joined a group to make sauces, Cae­sar sal­ads and desserts to go along with the dry-aged steak. Ev­ery­thing tastes bet­ter when you make it your­self.

As a fan of curry, where do you go to sat­isfy your crav­ings? Within the Ho­tel D’an­gleterre in Geneva is the Win­dows Restau­rant which serves an amaz­ing chicken curry. It’s un­der the Red Cara­na­tion Ho­tel Col­lec­tion, a sis­ter com­pany un­der The Travel Cor­po­ra­tion. The recipe comes from Mrs Toll­man. They serve it with pa­pad­ums and lit­tle plates of sauces. Hon­ey­comb ice cream as dessert is a must.

There’s also The Curry Room at The Rubens. On top of amaz­ing In­dian-cum-african fare, it’s got a rock­ing view of the Royal Mews of Buck­ing­ham Palace. Al­ways make a pit stop at the bbar next door for the best chicken sand­wich. Cheek­ily called the “Son of a Gun” But­ter­milk Chicken Sand­wich, it’s a cult favourite that got fa­mous by word of mouth.

Danube River

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