Almost Thirty years ago, I promoted my first Irish theme cruise. We sailed out of New York Harbor joined by 80 passengers and some of New York’s finest musicians. While I had been promoting other Irish events, I had absolutely no idea of the organizational skills required for successful cruising. We were all novices on this incredible voyage, as this was also a first cruise for my guests. The ship was small, our staterooms quite plain, but the entertainment was first rate and the dining experience truly indulgent.
We were assigned a small lounge on the ship to host our Irish entertainment. Let me tell you that we had so much fun, we were the envy of every other passenger onboard. We danced the nights away, enjoying the Siege of Ennis, Jiving, Polkas and Old Time Waltzes. We ended each night on a high with our beloved anthems. I recall returning home with hundreds of names given to me by other passengers who wanted to be notified of my next Irish cruise.
This is how it all started so many years ago, with 80 passengers and the business grew steadily to a level that required the chartering of entire ships. Over the years, I have gained a vast amount of knowledge on how to improve the cruising experience. However, I remain steadfast to my own vision “simply envision the type of quality and service that I would expect and don’t offer anything less to my customers”. My philosophy is to offer my guests the 5-star experience from the moment they step on the pier for embarkation.
On entering the terminal for check-in, your first experience will be the lilt of Irish music. Each guest is personally greeted, followed by a champagne reception. You already having so much fun and this is just at check-in. It is heartwarming to watch the smiling faces and the joyous anticipation exhibited as each guest is ready to embark. Once onboard ship, a fabulous lunch is offered, followed by the sail-away party. As it nears time for us to leave port, Irish and American flags are flying high in the air. Tommy Flynn gives the best rendition of Ireland’s 32 you have ever heard. To capture the magic the Captain blows the ships horn three times. The mood is electric and we are on our way for the cruise of a lifetime!
I now charter Holland America’s vista class ships annually, catering up to 2000 passengers. Most of my business comes from “word of mouth” and passengers hail from all over the world. I am truly blessed and would like to again express my thanks to all of my guests who sailed with me through the years. Should you choose to join us on this holiday cruise, you are sure to meet up with some old friends that you have met along the way on a Gertrude Byrne All Star Irish Cruise!