Credit: Cunard/Damian Barr

Damian Barr: British writer on cruise cocktails, his worst trip and Truman Capote

Author: Vicky Mayer

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Damian Barr will be sailing with the traditional British cruise line Cunard this winter. Here he spills the beans on his experience of cruises.

Damian Barr, 45, is the author of Maggie and Me and the founder of Damian Barr’s Literary Salon.

He will be appearing at the Cunard Literature Festival at Sea this December, alongside authors including Richard Osman, Ian Rankin and Mary Beard.

We caught up with Barr to quiz him on all things cruise and travel.

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What are you looking forward to about the Cunard Literary cruise?

Meeting new readers from all around the world and answering their questions.

What will you be doing on the cruise?

As well as engaging with guests through my talks and readings, I plan to spend more time at the bar sampling the amazing cocktails!

- READ MORE: What a festive Cunard cruise is really like -

Which authors are you most looking forward to travelling with on the cruise?

I couldn’t possibly say! Mary (Beard) Rachel (Johnson) and Ian (Rankin) have all been guests at my Literary Salon. And Richard (Osman) was on my Big Scottish Book Club on BBC TV (catch it on iPlayer now!)

Damian Barr will be appearing at the Cunard Literature Festival at Sea. Credit: Cunard

Do you pack classic books for a cruise or a kindle?

Books! There is no luggage allowance so Yah!

Which books can you recommend to take on a cruise?

Oddly, nothing set on ships. I am most looking forward to Mother’s Boy by Patrick Gale and Young Mungo by Douglas Stuart.

- READ MORE: Compete guide to Cunard cruise line -

Where have you travelled to before on a cruise?

My last cruise was my first! Arriving in New York by ship was incredible.

What do you love the most about cruising?

I mean….!

Damian Barr interview: The writer's ideal cruise and destination is Fiji. Credit: Shutterstock

What would be your ideal cruise and destination?


Who would be your ideal cruise partner and why?

Truman Capote because he’d leave me to write but he’d be great company at cocktail hour.

What do you pack to take on a cruise?

Kilts – I’m Scottish! And seasickness pills — I am pleased to report only one of those was vital last time!

- READ MORE: Top 16 destinations to visit in 2022 -

What’s your top all-time travel tip?

Enjoy the journey.

What’s been your best travel experience?

Travelling to Aotearoa (the Maori name for New Zealand) for three months in 2020 while finishing writing You Will Be Safe Here.

I was a Burns Fellow through the University of Otago. I was editing every day but every weekend I went out exploring the country’s incredible country and history.

Damian Barr interview: The writer's best travel experience was in New Zealand. Credit: Shutterstock

…and your worst?

One of those trips where you just can’t wait to get home? It’s best I don’t trigger myself by revisiting it…let’s just say it involved lying on a cold marble floor and praying for death.

- READ MORE: QE2 cruise ship becomes world's largest floating nightclub -

Where are you planning to travel to in 2022?

Now the world is opening up again I am thinking carefully about how and where I go and why. Lisbon in June for Pride seems perfect.

Damian will be appearing at the 7-night Literature Festival at Sea from Southampton to New York, on Queen Mary 2, departing December 3, 2022. See more at

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About Vicky Mayer

Vicky began her career working on young women’s magazines before moving on to TV and entertainment titles. Her passion, though, has always been travel, so as Editor of World of Cruising, she combines her love of magazines with the chance to shout about cruise holidays around the world.