It’s not often you get to sit down with P&O Cruises’ head honcho.
Despite, or perhaps because, the line is gearing up to launch the biggest ship in its history (and largest-ever designed for the UK market), Paul Ludlow has largely stayed out of the limelight recently, focusing instead on getting on with the day job.
That all changed recently when he took to the stage to be interviewed by TV presenter Fearne Cotton before welcoming Take That star and new P&O Cruises ambassador Gary Barlow at an intimate venue in London’s Shoreditch, packed with journalists and travel agents.
Fast-forward 24 hours and Ludlow is still buzzing. “Fun, wasn’t it?” he grins. It certainly got the line some attention, with headlines across the national press from The Sun to The Telegraph.
This, of course, was the idea.
“We need to grow this market,” Ludlow says passionately. “We need to create more demand and get cruise into the consciousness of people who have never even thought about it.”
Barlow is part of P&O’s plan to achieve this. He is also, says Ludlow, the epitome of “Britishness”. “Our heartland audience is ITV Saturday night. Gary was top of the list for us – everyone loves him, from nine-year-olds to grandmas. Working with Gary helps us to reach new audiences”.
This is also the reason for the launch of Ionafest – P&O’s summer floating festival, which will feature celebrity names such as Clean Bandit, Jo Whiley, Sara Cox, Trevor Nelson and now Barlow.