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david ellis

THE message is delivered through the public address system in the
Best-of- British English.

It draws you to listen.

Every word is enunciated perfectly with nary a vowel flawed; every
ending “g” or “t” as discernible as Professor Henry Higgins strove for
from his battle with the hapless Cockney Eliza Doolittle in My Fair

It’s like listening to British aristocracy sans any pluminess, like
Audrey Hepburn finally evolving into an English lady from the nasally
Eliza with her aspirated king-hit “In Hartford, Hereford and
Hampshire, hurricanes hardly happen…”

So just where is this so-cultured – yet so-unaffected – accent from?

We venture maybe some royal heritage, or perhaps the result of being
born into a family with long diplomatic lineage.

We’re wrong on both counts.

“I was born in Victoria and spent my earliest years at Endeavour Hills
in the Dandenongs,” the lady behind the voice tells us. “When I’m not
travelling the world, home is now Maroochydore on Queensland’s
Sunshine Coast.”

Tanya Whitehurst is Cruise Director aboard the boutique British ship
Saga Rose, a job most teenage girls with stars in their eyes about
travelling the world – and actually being paid for it – can merely
dream about.

And she got there with one ethic: hard work.

When she was eleven Tanya’s English parents moved back to Nottingham
where mum had hailed from, and Tanya quickly developed a love of the
entertainment world and the stage.

She enrolled in Nottingham’s School of Performing Art, and an
elocution course that saw her lose much of her Australian accent
(although we happily pick up the occasional hint of her homeland.)

By nineteen, the energetic Tanya was Assistant Entertainment Manager
at the vast Billy Butlin’s-like West Sands Caravan Park in West Sussex
that catered to 10,000 holidaymakers a week.

A year later she added the roles of Stage Manager and Sound & Light
Engineer at the Park, and at twenty-three changed course for an
Entertainment Manager’s role in the Mediterranean.

Then eight years ago, still at just 28, she landed a job with Saga
Holidays that operates Saga Rose and Saga Ruby, boutique ships that
specialise in world-wide cruise holidays for the over-50s.

So how’s a 35-year old Cruise Director fit in with passengers anywhere
from 50- to 90-plus?

“I love it because our guests are just so mentally and physically
active and interesting,” she says as Saga Rose sails from Sydney to
Cairns as part of the ship’s current annual Round World Cruise. “Few
miss anything from early morning walks or exercise classes or onboard
lectures, discussion groups, bridge lessons, and shore tours that we
tailor to their age and physical abilities.

“Most have been aboard numerous times in different parts of the world
or on world cruises, and tell us they feel so secure travelling with
small numbers of like-age.

“And while our officers and crew are largely younger than our guests,
every cruise quickly becomes like a big happy family event – for us,
welcoming back past guests is like welcoming back our own

Guests too are quick to talk about the spontaneity of officers and
crew aboard Saga Rose, who always greet passing guests with a friendly
word, a question as to how they’re enjoying their cruise, and even
enquiring of family members back home.

“We do everything possible to make our guests feel welcome,” Tanya
says. “Simple things like a friendly greeting no matter how times you
might meet a guest in a day, helping with their trays from the buffet,
opening doors, helping them to their seats… its this face to face
contact that make their holiday for them and keeps them coming back
over and again.”

Saga Rose normally carries under 600-passengers, and on most world
cruises around 450, looked after by 350 crew; she’ll sail 52-nights
from Sydney to Southampton on February 27 2009 as part of her next
world cruise, visiting 24-ports in Australia, Vanuatu, the Solomon
Islands, Papua New Guinea, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Sri Lanka,
the Maldives, India, Oman, Yemen, Egypt Cyprus and Malta.

Early Bird 15% discount cruise-only prices start from $18,532pp
twin-share exclusively through Cruiseco; phone 1800 225 656 for the
name of your nearest Cruiseco agency Australia-wide or visit


PHOTO CAPTIONS: TANYA Whitehurst: Aussie with job most girls can only

dream of.

SAGA Rose at sea.

GUESTS enjoy dining on deck in
fine weather.

SHOWTIME at night aboard Saga Rose.

Images: Saga Holidays

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