TV presenter, wine expert, bee-keeper and P&O Cruises’ Food Hero, Olly Smith is a man of many parts – with a serious passion for cruising
What is the best thing about being a P&O Cruises Food Hero?
Meeting people – it’s such a privilege to contribute to someone’s special holiday moment, whether it’s sharing a glass of something scrumptious or leading a shore excursion somewhere splendid. On a cruise there are so many opportunities to celebrate the wonder of travel together.
What can guests expect from your Food Hero Experiences on board?
All sorts. I host wine-pairing dinners, with menus that are exclusive to The Glass House, as well as regular wine tastings, visits ashore to wineries and breweries, book signings, Q&As, theatre sessions and more. And I’m always happy to share a glass of something good!
Where did your passion for wine come from?
Originally from my Saturday job at a wine merchant’s, which was delivering boxes of wine. At first I was intrigued by all the names, then I discovered the flavours and it struck me that each bottle told a story. My idea now is to make those stories simple to understand, and to use all my tasting experience to find the perfect bottles for other people to enjoy. And these days I’ve got a pretty amazing Saturday job, on BBC1’s Saturday Kitchen!
Can anyone learn how to taste wine?
Anyone can love wine. I’ve found that my job is to listen to people, learn which flavours they enjoy and then recommend the perfect glass at the right price. Even when someone is new to wine, I can ask a few simple questions to get an idea of the kinds of flavours they love most, and then recommend a great value bottle to brighten up their day.
What do you enjoy most about life on a cruise ship?
The atmosphere on board is amazing. High standards of food, drink, entertainment and service, all set against a backdrop that’s constantly changing but always inspiring – from the fjords to the Caribbean, there’s always an amazing view. What’s not to love about that?
And what has been your favourite destination?
I love Madeira. The wines are unique, the people are super-welcoming and it’s a lovely climate, somewhere between Europe and the tropics. There’s nowhere quite like it.
One of your hobbies is keeping bees – is there any way you could combine that with cruising?
Sadly not – bees are creatures of habit and they wouldn’t like being on a ship one bit. I think the passengers might have something to say about it too. But I’d love to make my own honey for P&O Cruises to be served exclusively on board. How about that?
Finally, if you were to describe yourself as a glass of wine, what would you be?