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A special invite


David George, a self-confessed cruise addict, writes about the advantages of being a Ligurian tier guest on board Aurora earlier this year. . .

Trees in a clearing in Barbados

A beautiful setting for Afternoon Tea

As I sunbathed in Barbados in February it was difficult to imagine that Britain was in the throes of one of the coldest winters for years. This, I said to my friend as I sipped a second rum punch, is why I keep returning to P&O Cruises for New Year cruises - as well as for a few spring and autumn ones, of course. And this year my stay in Bridgetown was to be even better, thanks to a special surprise for P&O Cruises most loyal guests during Aurora's 65 night South America Circumnavigation.


Loyalty matters to P&O Cruises and it is recognised through its loyalty programme, the Peninsular Club.  Points are awarded for each night spent on board and they soon add up when you cruise as regularly as I am lucky enough to do. So much that I have scaled the dizzy heights to become a top tier member of the Peninsular Club. Yes, I am a Ligurian - but please, no need to bow and scrape. Ligurians enjoy a number of extra benefits. Priority check-in and priority booking at brochure launches are the ones I value most highly but there are other bonuses too, like a half bottle of Champagne during each cruise, half-price laundry, officer hosted cocktail parties and a 10% discount on a range of purchases.


I have never been to South America and the experience is one I will not forget. The drama of Rio fizzing with life and energy, the elegance and style of Montevideo, the beauty and isolation of Patagonia with its majestic glaciers . . . and then the Falklands, their population still coping with the aftermath of conflict. After a memorable day ashore in Stanley I returned to find an invitation in my cabin for Ligurian members to join Hotel General Manager Gordon Marshall, Senior Loyalty & Cruise Sales Manager Hope Lyttle along with other senior officers for afternoon tea when Aurora reached Barbados. What a prospect!


Barbados is one of my favourite islands, even more so after I joined fellow Ligurians for our exclusive scenic drive to Sunbury Plantation House where tea was to be served. Sunbury's history goes back three centuries, its sugar plantation worked for many years by slave labour. Slavery was not finally abolished until 1834 but the estate continued in business until the 1980s when the house was separated off to become not just a home but the setting for collections of Caribbean antiques, restored carriages and optical machinery.  Over the years the house has been partially destroyed by hurricanes more than once and today it is a curious mixture of styles with interior storm shutters on many windows and with most exposed walls more than half a metre thick.


When we arrived I took the opportunity to explore but the main action was at our tables alongside Sunbury's manicured lawns. There, ship's officers served glasses of sparkling wine and rum punch while P&O Cruises director of CRM & Loyalty, Amy Harman, welcomed us to our Ligurian treat. With the formalities over, Sunbury staff began serving afternoon tea to the sounds of a steel band.  This was the highlight of the afternoon, a chance to experience true Barbados hospitality with waiters reversing our traditions by happily serving scones and cream ahead of the sandwiches. But why not? After all, this was the Caribbean, where a light shower is liquid sunshine and a laid-back approach is the key to a contented life.


The whole afternoon was magical. This is the life, I thought. It certainly pays to be loyal.


For more information on the Peninsular Club, click here >