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River cruise: APT's operations manager Trish Bannon reveals all

’Trish, help, we left part of the gangway in Bonn’… the unusual situations that an river cruise operations manager has to deal with

TRFBLI
APT-Europe-team.jpg
APT-Europe-team.jpg

What are the day-to-day tasks of an operations manager?

Lots of Excel spreadsheets! I look at brochures, deployment, marketing ideas, product planning ideas and work out whether they are possible. Using maps, sailing schedules and advice from captains, I can confirm we have costed the right items to run the experience – this is done 18 months to three years in advance. I also troubleshoot current products. I manage 70 on-the-road/cruise staff and their personal and professional development needs, and assist them with managing difficult situations onboard, such as when a guest is taken ill, for example.

 

How long have you worked with APT and what did you do before?

Since 1995 I have worked for various European land touring companies including Tuscan Tours, as well as being a cruise director at sea in the winter months around north Africa and the Middle East. APT approached me and offered me the chance to apply for this role and I joined the company in December 2007.

 

What is guests’ most common question?

When can we book the chef’s table? Reservations are made onboard and all passengers can dine there free once a week.

What’s the most unusual situation you have dealt with for APT?

I had a frantic call from a vessel. Trish, help! What? We left part of the gangway in Bonn! What? … Yes, the crew untied it and left it on the pontoon. Can you buy two bike locks and go there and lock it up until we can come back? Or here’s another: Trish, we need to change the sailing schedule today. Why? Well, a space shuttle is being transported to the Technik Museum Speyer and they have closed the river.

 

Which is your favourite European river port?

Miltenberg in Bavaria. I love the little ports and this is an unspoilt German village. I like it because it’s how life used to be. When we visit in winter to confirm the coming season, the entire village is deserted at night. They have this little museum full of items from the past – junk really, but you can walk around and imagine how life was. I recommend a guided tour in Miltenberg to hear some medieval horror stories about the way they used to treat witches.

What’s your hidden secret along Europe’s rivers?

Drinking coffee in Vienna. Just a coffee, always served with a glass of water, pitch black. It is stronger than Italian espresso. It’s served in old-world style, I don’t know if you can call it charm as the Viennese waiters are not always the cheeriest of folk. Then I buy my mum in New Zealand a Viennese sacher cake, which I ship to her. Once a year she feels glamorous receiving it for her birthday.

Of the countries APT operates in, which is your favourite and why?

France for our new Bordeaux cruise. I was there on a fam – and wow, that product is fantastic. It is such a beautiful part of the world, with some amazing excursions.

 

If you could travel on only one APT ship, which would you choose?

The AmaVenita – I always like the new ones. I like to hunt for flaws – very hard to find. I love older ships, too. A captain I worked with years ago said of the ship we worked on: “She is an old lady and you know we don’t try to change the character of an old lady.” They have personalities, these ships. And those who work on them come to love them.

 

What’s been the best meal onboard an APT ship?

Roast suckling pig as part of our Bavarian lunch.

 

TRFBLI
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