The Cruise: Fun Loving Brits at Sea Behind the Scenes

Channel 5’s new show, ‘The Cruise: Fun Loving Brits at Sea’ is a 20-episode series following groups of holidaymakers as they sail through the Mediterranean on Regal Princess.

We caught up with Anne from Northern Ireland, who features on the TV programme, to find out what it was like to be part of the show.

The Cruise: Fun Loving Brits at Sea

This fly-on-the-wall TV show looks at cruising from a range of perspectives and what it means for those setting sail on their dream holiday.

The first episode introduced viewers to cruising newbies and best friends from Leeds, expert travellers from The Isle of Wight and cruise lover Carla who brings her new-to-cruise friends along for the journey.

The Cruise: Fun Loving Brits at Sea on Channel 5
Andy and Rachel from Leeds feature in the first episode

The cruisers enjoy delicious treats and tipples in Italy and Greece, combining travel and education in Turkey.

The new Channel 5 programme promises to showcase the exhilarating activities and cultural immersion that a dream holiday at sea can offer.

Whether you are new to the cruise world or a cruise veteran, we’re sure this show will inspire you to start planning for your next dream holiday at sea.”

Eithne Williamson, Vice President, Princess Cruises UK and Europe

Anne’s Experience on TV

Anne Norwood is a fellow cruise lover, who is a regular at the weekly #CruiseHour Twitter chat I host every Tuesday at 8pm BST/GMT. Through our chats online, I’ve come to call her my friend, even though we’ve never met in person!

Anne from Northern Ireland is no stranger to cruising but has had numerous disappointing setbacks after the pandemic saw many of her recent cruises cancelled.

When I discovered that Anne was starring in this new cruise TV show, I wanted to know all about it and she kindly agreed to have a chat about her experience on The Cruise: Fun Loving Brits at Sea.

Q. How did you come to be on The Cruise: Fun-Loving Brits at Sea? 

Anne: Last year, I saw an advert on Facebook looking for cruise lovers to take part in a new Channel 5 series and I immediately fancied it.

I sent the link to my friends. Some said they’d not be able to get the time off work, one was a bit nervous about cruises and COVID; some just didn’t like the idea of cameras.

I left it a few days but it became like an itch that I had to scratch… so four days later, I decided I’d give it a go.

The advert invited people to email Title Role Productions telling them a bit about themselves and why they’d love to take part. I sat down at the computer and tried to write something that would make me sound interesting enough to stand out.

Once I’d finished, I discovered that the mailbox was full and applications were on hold.

I was a bit disappointed but then figured that I’d already invested the time to write it and had nothing to lose by trying. I sent it anyway and went outside to the garden.  About 10 mins later, I received an email thanking me and asking me to provide some more information!  

At first, I wasn’t sure if it was real or not, maybe it was an automated message that meant nothing? Or maybe it was an actual response as it did take a bit of time before I got it?

I decided to leave it…. but of course, I couldn’t let it sit, so the next evening I picked up the email again and followed the instructions. 

It asked: Why did I apply? If successful who would I take with me? And why?

I’m slightly embarrassed to say that I did refer to the beloved Jane McDonald at this point!

Jane McDonald the cruise

I proposed my husband would join me first of all or if he couldn’t go, then one of my friends, Wendy. She’s self-employed like myself, so potentially flexible with dates. I knew she wanted to try a cruise as we already had a wee four-night cruise booked in October.

She’d had a few tough challenges and her mother had passed away only a few months before so I knew that she needed a break.

I hit the send button and thought that would be it but the next morning my mobile phone rang. It was one of the representatives from Title Role who wanted a chat about my application!

To say I was in shock was an understatement but there I was, talking about myself and why I’d like to go, who I would take etc. The call lasted half an hour or more.

A short while later she called back to ask more about my friend and if it would be ok to speak over Zoom.

I have to admit, the Zoom call seemed to go pretty well, Hollie from Title Role was lovely and we had a bit of craic! We went back over what I had put on my application and the earlier phone calls so that she could record it and present it to the channel to see if they felt the same as her – that I would be ideal for the show!

She then arranged the same for Wendy. Her sister, Pamela, helped her with the Zoom call. This is how there became three of us on the TV show.

We were asked to send some photos and videos showing us having fun so I dug out photos of me:

  • driving a Formula Ford racing car
  • on a zip line
  • horse riding
  • dressed up for an annual charity ball
  • line dancing
  • in a microlight plane
  • visiting places abroad, some with a cruise ship in the background
  • with friends, enjoying drinks and a laugh

Q. How did you find out you were going to be on TV?

Anne: A couple of weeks after the Zoom call I got an email with a proposed cruise date in August. Unfortunately, I had to decline as I was scheduled to have lens replacement surgery on my eyes and would not be able to travel.

Cheekily I saw a cruise itinerary which I really liked, and proposed that I would be able to travel on this later date if that suited.   I didn’t want to miss out and hoped that the channel would wait for me and not choose someone else instead. 

Fortunately, they agreed!

Title Role got back to me after a couple of weeks and started to make travel arrangements for us – all the while Wendy and Pamela were chasing after passports as they hadn’t got any!

Q. What did the selection process involve?

Anne: During the selection process we had to provide character references and complete some questionnaires regarding our integrity. We had to tell them if we’d ever appeared on a show before. We also had an interview with a Psychologist to determine if we could cope with any negativity that might arise as a result of the programme.  

The next week we got our travel details, had to do an LFT Covid Test and before we knew it, a taxi was picking us up to take us to the airport!  

Q: How long did the whole process?

Anne: From start to finish it was all done and dusted, filming in the can, in 9 weeks.

Q: Which cruise did you do as part of the TV programme?

Anne: We took a 7-night cruise on Regal Princess. It was a Mediterranean cruise with Greek Isles and Turkey.

The cruise Anne took for The Cruise: Fun Loving Brits at Sea

The ports we visited were:

  • Rome
  • Naples
  • Crete
  • Kusadasi
  • Istanbul
  • Mykonos
  • Athens

We embarked in Civitavecchia with our first stop in Naples.

Day Two was a sea day with a formal night, which included the Captain’s Champagne Reception.

Next was Crete followed by Kusadasi and Istanbul. The film crew had problems with customs on their first visit so we enjoyed Kusadasi and Istanbul on our own.

Our last full day was spent in Mykonos and we disembarked the next day in Athens.

What were the highlights of this cruise? 

Anne: We had so many, and quite a few were off camera!

The formal night topped them all. We were invited to pour the champagne and were introduced to the Captain.

anne the cruise: fund loving brits at sea
Formal night on Regal Princess

The onboard jewellery store lent us diamonds to wear for the occasion (but that bit wasn’t allowed to be shown as it wasn’t pre-approved!).

Wendy and Pamela were scheduled to get their hair done in the salon but there were only two spaces left. Wendy is a hairdresser, so she did my hair for me in the cabin before formal night.

While they were in the salon, I went to the Effy jewellery store and the manager, Jason, chose a diamond necklace, bracelet and earrings for me to wear with a diamond and sapphire bracelet. I was able to arrange earrings and a ring for Wendy. Jason and I then went down to the salon to surprise Wendy with them.

It was a real Cinderella moment: all dressed up with expensive gems and we had to have them back before the store closed!

effy jewellery store
Anne and her friends at the Effy Jewellery Store

We were introduced to Captain Aldo Traverso. Funnily enough, the Captain had been slightly concerned that conversation would be difficult, as previous people were nearly afraid to speak. We laughed that in our case, it would be more of an issue of getting us to stop talking!

I remember him asking what was our favourite part of the cruise was so far, and given we had really only had one stop (where I had got eaten alive by mosquitos) I couldn’t think and found myself saying “the bed!”

In truth, it was a highlight as it was just so very comfy. I remember comparing it to sleeping on a giant marshmallow – it was so soft and comfy. I don’t think he was quite expecting that answer!

Meeting the Captain on formal night

How did the filming work? Did the crew follow you around or were you asked to do certain things?

Anne: There was a planner who arranged activities for us. Each night, we were sent a schedule of what they wanted us to do the next day. This included what time we had to meet and where and what we would be doing.

We just turned up, got wired up with mics and off we went.

On the very first day, when we arrived in the port of Civitavecchia, they asked us to take a selfie stick to record some footage, so Wendy took that.

I’m rubbish with technology, but I was fine with the crew following behind as I could switch off, pretend they weren’t there and just be myself.

The funniest part was when we were being filmed on deck about the experiences we had shared and there were people on their balconies watching and taking photos with their phones as if we were some sort of celebrities that they didn’t know about!

Anne and friends with the TV crew

Q. What was it like to be on The Cruise: Fun Loving Brits at Sea?

Anne: It is quite surreal to think that we were chosen out of absolutely thousands of applicants.

It all happened so quickly, from the application to the interview and then being picked up to go to the airport.

I love to travel and our kids have always described our trips as ‘adventures’ so this was another adventure.

This time, I wasn’t involved in deciding what we would do so that was quite interesting. There were definitely things that I would NOT have chosen to do myself!

We had great craic (common Irish word for fun), saw new countries, had new experiences, met some really great people and had lots and lots of laughs along the way.

I would like to return to some of the places because we didn’t get to see any of the historical sites.

The programme was put together so quickly and they hadn’t arranged permission to film in any of those locations.

Q. Would you do it again? 

Anne: Absolutely! In a heartbeat! We had a great team and a good rapport with everyone, which really helped. We all clicked straight away which helped us to relax and just be ourselves. Even the Carnival guy was taking selfies with us after a few days!

‘Cruising with Anne and Friends’ – has a nice ring to it!

How to Watch The Cruise: Fun Loving Brits at Sea

Tune in to Channel 5 at 4pm every weekday from August 14 to watch The Cruise: Fun Loving Brits at Sea or catch up on My 5.

Anne and her friends will feature in week four, starting 4th September.


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