Ben Fogle’s passion for travel and adventure seems inexhaustible. The 45-year-old adventurer continues to travel to up to 50 countries a year and is a self-proclaimed “modern-day nomad”. He has journeyed to some of the world’s most far-reaching places, from the summit of Everest (which he successfully climbed last year) to the Antarctic plateau. It’s therefore almost impossible to know where would feature on his bucket list.
And yet, up until last year when he was appointed as Celebrity Cruises’ global destination ambassador, Fogle had never been on a cruise. Since then, he has been responsible for crafting the cruise line’s more adventurous shore excursions in Alaska.
From hiking in the Tongass rainforest to whale-spotting in Juneau, Fogle has created one-of-a-kind itineraries which have been designed take guests out of their comfort zone. We catch up with him to discuss his forthcoming cruise aboard Celebrity Flora, which he’s taking with his wife Marina and two children, Iona and Ludovik.
What’s your favourite part of the world and why?
Alaska. We all have geographies, landscapes and places that build us, and more rugged, mountainous landscapes have always appealed to me. I love the Caribbean and warm waters around the world, but there’s something very exciting about colder waters and what lives there. I’d visited Alaska a lot before Celebrity Cruises asked me to set up an adventure programme, but I’d never visited the coastal regions, and they’re magical.
What does your adventure programme have to offer?
We want to maximise guests’ experiences, so we offer amazing adventures that include kayaking with whales in Alaska and sailing in Antigua. For any wildlife experience, of course, there is no guarantee that the animals will actually be there, but last time I visited Alaska I saw about 100 whales at once. It was an incredible sight. They key to these trips is being in smaller groups and being close to nature. These are experiences you will be talking about for years to come.
Can everyone get involved?
Yes, you have to be realistic about what your guests can do and are happy doing. We offer off-ship adventures from climbing a volcano in St Kitts to travelling in a submarine in Majorca. We’ve got plenty of choice and there’s something for everyone. In my mind, adventure is anything out of the ordinary; anything you haven’t done before.
What do you love about cruising?
I love the fact you can visit so many places and see a lot of the world. Before I worked with Celebrity Cruises, I had never cruised before and, like a lot of people, I had many preconceptions. But once I sailed, I was hooked. Apart from seeing so many fantastic destinations on your trip, it’s amazing what you can do on board – from having a haircut and seeing a film to going to the gym.
On a ship, you can be as busy or lazy as you want to be. Do you cruise with your family?
Yes, cruising is great for children. As a family, we like to mix things up. So we’ll go from travelling in extreme luxury (on board one of the Celebrity ships, for instance) to sleeping in a muddy field in a tent. Many cruise ships are fantastic for children, and they love being on board. This summer, I’ll be travelling on Celebrity Flora with my family – I think it’s going to be the adventure of a lifetime for them.
You’re known for being an adventure traveller. What three tips can you share with our readers?
Pick your location and do some research before you book your trip. I’m a big fan of Northern Europe and can recommend trips to Norway, Sweden or Denmark. Further afield, I love Russia, Alaska and the Galapagos. Meet the locals and be open-minded. For instance, it’s fun to do something like meeting a local grandma in Sicily, going to the market with her, then visiting her house to cook. Immersive trips are amazing and very adventurous. Seize opportunities when you can. Don’t be afraid of experiencing highs and lows on your trip, and remember: it doesn’t always have to be about luxury.
What’s on your travel wish list?
I would like to see more of Japan. I have been to Tokyo, but I’d like to explore more of the rest of the country. It’s such an amazing part of the world, so different from the West.
Ben Fogle is the Global Destination Ambassador of Celebrity Cruises’ Great Adventures programme. Find out more at celebritycruises.co.uk/benfogle.