Journalists on Travel Trade Gazette were in the right place at the right time to catch P&O boss David Dingle as he dealt with the stricken cruise liner Aurora in the Mediterranean.
TTG editor John Welsh and his team of reporters were at the travel industry’s annual conference, the ABTA convention in Palma, Majorca, where Dingle was among the guest speakers.
The team produced three special daily editions of the magazine and got exclusive quotes from Dingle in response to the ongoing saga, in which 500 passengers were struck down with a stomach bug.
TTG reporter Louise Prior managed to clinch the 25-minute exclusive interview with Dingle. “He was very calm and collected despite all that was going on. He was running from appointment to appointment with his mobile clamped to his ear,” she said.
Dingle, who was on the main cruise panel, was also confronted by one broadcast journalist holding up the front page of the Daily Mail with the headline “Adrift on A Ship From Hell”.
Four production staff and the news editor were based in London and worked over the weekend to get the issues out while the five-strong news team – reporters Adam Coulter, Linda Fox, Lucy Huxley, deputy editor Ian Taylor and Welsh – got the editorial together in Palma.
The issues were printed in Palma and delivered to delegates at their hotels and handed out at the airport on the final morning before they returned to the UK. Welsh said: “There were some great stories about the trade but just as exciting was our fly-on-the-wall coverage of Dingle dealing with the stricken cruise liner in the Med while also representing his company on stage.”
The interview also proved a big scoop for Welsh, who has been editor of TTG for less than a month, having moved across from Property Week in October.
By Ruth Addicott