A Brush with Fame: BBC & My Cruise Contempt
Leah Walker July 5, 2012

“I’m a producer at BBC World Service radio, based in London (though we broadcast across the globe, including on several hundred NPR stations in the US). I’m hoping to track you down asap, because we’re lining up a discussion on our show tomorrow morning about cruises. In short, P&O (one of the world’s oldest cruise liner companies) is turning 175 tomorrow, and we’re keen to look at the very points you made in your recent blog posting. People either love or hate the idea of cruises…”

Cruise Sunset

Ocean sunsets are the best part of cruising for me.

And so my Monday morning began. I hadn’t even finished my coffee or properly woken up before this email from BBC producer, Paul, flashed across my iPhone screen. My first instinct was to laugh. He wanted to interview me about my hatred of cruises? I’d written that in mid-April, and although it’s not my most viewed post, it is the one with the most comments. With 120 comments (some of which are mine), “I Hate Cruises” brought out people that echoed my disdain and others that sang the virtues of cruising. I even got my first troll.

Behold Josh:


Josh and his friends (Credit)

“Your writing is very generic. You use every over-used phrase known in the U.S. and for someone who praises autheticity (sic), you cleary (sic) don’t have a genuine opinion. You are just writing because you think its (sic) cool and maybe someone will give you attention. Just limit yourself to taking pictures and giving them titles, and leave the ‘real’ writing to actual people who have talent.”

Initially this threw me for a loop. Had he told me I was unattractive or a bitch (he later told me I needed to “get laid”), I might have given it a second thought. But to attack my writing skills? I took it that Josh wasn’t a regular reader. He obviously hadn’t heard that I’d won an international writing competition just six weeks prior or that my give-a-damn is broken.

Since I knew I was dealing with crazy, I responded in a calm, diplomatic way:

“Thanks for stopping by, Josh. While I appreciate your comment, I’m not sure what it has to do with cruising. And please don’t take offense when I say that I don’t put much stock in the opinion of someone who misspells two words and misuses another when criticizing my writing.”

Rio Sugar Loaf

I laugh in the faces of the Joshes of the world.

Josh didn’t realize what he was getting himself into. He didn’t know that I’d dealt with smart-ass teenaged boys as a high school English teacher for a decade, and a supposed 29-year old pediatric nurse didn’t stand a chance with me. Madness and mayhem ensued. Josh continued to attack and I egged it on by approving his comments, posting it on Facebook, and responding. Readers came to my defense and BAM! My first and only troll disappeared into the night. As fun as that was, I never would have imagined my little post would have landed me on international radio.

CozumelJumping for joy for my BBC opportunity

I sent Paul my cell phone number and he immediately called. In a very alluring Australian accent, Paul explained that the interview was for a morning show called “World Update” and that Dan Damon, the presenter, would be asking me about my hatred of cruises. Cruise lover and author of books about cruising, Brian Smith, would also be on air with me. I could imagine that I was being led like a lamb to slaughter, but Paul assured me that it was going to be a light-hearted piece.

New Zealand SheepWas I like these New Zealand lambs waiting for slaughter?

I agreed to go live on air at approximately 4:45 am Texas time. Paul proclaimed that my “blood’s worth bottling for getting up this early.” I’m not sure what that means, but I’m guessing it’s a compliment. After we said our goodbyes (and he invited me to BBC for a tour when I’m in London in December!), the magnitude of what I was about to do hit me like a lead pipe to the back. Seriously! I threw my arms in the air to stretch and my neck and back let me know who was boss. I immediately grabbed my neck and cried out in pain. Had the stress of being a big-time radio personality already taken its toll?

I set my alarm for 4:15 am, which isn’t much earlier than I usually get up, and a restless night ensued. I tossed and turned trying to find a comfortable sleeping position; my neck ached despite my lunch massage. Somehow I managed to turn my brain off. After all, this wasn’t TV. It’s radio. I’d be in my pajamas talking on Skype from my comfy bed. What did I have to be nervous about? I was being asked about my opinion. And although one’s opinion can be ill-informed, it can’t be wrong. I would be fine.

Rio FlightMe in the morning…not pretty, my friends.

My iPhone alarm rattled me out of bed with the chiming of a bell tower. Although my morning breath wouldn’t be detected, I brushed and gargled with mouthwash just the same. My computer and notes were ready to go, and I sent an email to Paul letting him know I was available. The blue “S” popped up on my computer screen, and I answered. On the other end I could hear the radio program in the background and a producer with an English accent wish me good morning. It was almost go time and the butterflies swirled in my stomach. We would be on in approximately five minutes. Scenarios flashed through my mind as I sat up a little straighter in bed. I’m not sure why, but it couldn’t hurt. If I still had sleep in my eyes, it was instantly shaken out when I heard,

“The idea of taking a trip on a cruise ship is something that either fills you with joy or horror…”

Ugandan King Rwoth Philip Olarker Rauni III had just been interviewed and now it was my turn. Are you kidding me? Yes, this was really happening. Take a listen to this slice of radio gold. (I’m on at 12:48)

Cruise Interview with BBC “World Update”

Here are my take-a-ways from my brief brush with fame on BBC “World Update”:

  • I have a thick Texan accent, which I love, but it is sounds unrefined next to English accents.
  • I need to be more concise when I speak.
  • I should never say “you know” again for the rest of my life. I said it twice in this interview.
  • I should never say“uhh” again for the rest of my life either. I don’t even want to count.
  • I suck my teeth when I’m about to speak. It’s not attractive.

I’ve got some work to do if I’m going to be a big-time radio star with the likes of Paul Havrey, but it’s a challenge I welcome. Overall, I don’t feel too badly about my performance, but I know there is room for improvement. Will BBC or the like ever contact me again? I sure hope so. I promise I won’t suck my teeth and I’ll TRY not to say “uhh” more than three times.

Keep the FaithThanks, Subway-Sign.com for the advice!

And Josh, if you’re reading this, I’d like offer my heartiest thank you for being the judgmental, self-important ass that you are. I have no doubt that the extra attention that my post received moved “I Hate Cruises” up in the Google ranks, which is how the BBC producer found me.

Featured Photo

Leah Walker

Leah's a luxury travel and food writer who has as many stories as she does shoes. She documents her experiences whether that's in the lap of luxury or riding through a swamp in an airboat. Leah freelances and has contributor/editor roles with The Daily Meal, The Daily Basics, Luxe Beat Magazine, Forbes Travel Guide, and is a travel ambassador for Atout France USA. Leah's thrilled to call Paris home after being awarded the coveted three-year Compétences & Talents visa from France, though her talents don't extend to speaking French. Yet.


  1. wow, so cool and I love your accent and you were pretty hard on yourself, I didn’t hear you sucking your teeth but two times, lol

  2. Congrats on the interview! I don’t like cruises either and wrote a similar post a couple of years ago. However, I wasn’t as strong in my disdain for them as you! :)

    As for the interview, it sounded fine. We all do our uhs and ums, especially if you are not used to it. Wish you would have had the chance to plug your site. They didn’t even mention it on the air

    1. I guess you’ll just to be a little more opinionated in your posts if you’re hoping to land something like this. Ha! I’m sure it’s a once-in-a-lifetime deal, but I’ll take it nonetheless. I agree, I do wish my site was mentioned, but a more seasoned person would have found a way to slip it in. Again, another way to improve if there is a next time. Thanks for not being as hard on me as I am on myself. “Fine” is a very good word for my performance.

  3. Your radio participation is very generic. You use every over-used phrase known in the U.S. and for someone who praises autheticity, you cleary don’t have a genuine opinion…. Just kidding – that sounded great. I can’t tell you how nervous I would have been.

    1. Ain’t karma a bitch, Katherine? You followed along on all that whole troll deal. I love the English accent, but I love mine too. It’s part of my persona. It felt like I showed up at a black tie party wearing shorts. LOL!

  4. Love it! I think that you know you’ve made it big if you’ve got yourself a troll. It takes some serious time and effort for someone to spend their day trying to make you upset. Great job on the interview. I hope there’s many more BBC interviews to come in your future :)

    1. That’s the way I looked at it, Tawny. If people aren’t talking about you (good or bad) you’re not living out loud enough. Thanks for reading and listening. I’ll do better if they give me another shot!

  5. I haven’t had a chance to listen to the interview. Let me tell you this, you are much more attractive in the morning than that picture portrays. Trust me.

  6. I’m still stuck on the alluring Aussie accent……

    And now I’m unstuck. Can’t believe that troll?! Seriously, I HATE it when people criticize writing from bloggers. I’ve had my haters too, and always responded, “OK, well, then can you offer me something constructive on how I can improve rather than simply being rude?” That tends to shut them up.

    Also, so weird to hear your voice – I love your accent! Do you have a sexy, gay brother by any chance? Preferably a big, dumb looking meat head with a few tattoos?…and a slightly more masculine voice.

    1. Oh, I know what you’re saying about the accent. As soon as I heard his voice, Hugh Jackman appeared. {sigh}

      Josh is harmless. I figured I’d toy with him a bit, though. If I were serious, it would be like killing a fly with a grenade. I simply used him to bolster my site views. Good times, indeed.

      As for your inquiry regarding a brother, and because he does not read my blog, I can say this…he is not sexy or gay, but he does have a tattoo. So there you go. I do happen to have a huge gay following in my everyday life, which I’d proudly introduce you to when you visit the USA. 😉

  7. I am proud to call myself a friend of the newest travel big-timer: Leah B. Walker! Congrats on scoring the interview. The accent? Now people will want to sound like you. The uhhs? Uhh, worry just enough but not too much. And yes, kids, beware of the ex-teacher – you ain’t got nuttin’ on her!

    1. I know you’re going to listen to that interview several times just so you can pick up my accent again. You better practice before you come to Austin in September. I can’t wait to see you and Gareth.

    1. By the way, when you first published the original “I Hate Cruises” post, I knew it would stir up some stuff, but I never imagined it would land you a BBC radio interview. Again, so freaking awesome!

  8. Leah, you structured this post beautifully. Love how you wrap it all up. (Josh, good construction is where it’s at, dotcha know.)

    Way to go! I’m super proud of you.

  9. I loved your take on cruises before so I’m glad big time BBC took notice too. Love the interview and your Texas twang. Congratulations on the interview!

  10. I am SO proud of you – and a little bit jealous (seriously, no. I am delighted for you). You know how I feel about cruises – and we discussed this at length. Obviously then my comments came back to bite me as I was invited to go on a lux cruise on the same week.

    Loved this piece – and can’t wait to share some goodies from my first cruise. Will it b the last? Now that is the question!

    1. Thank you so much, Ana. That is so kind of you to say. I have to admit that if I were presented with the same opportunity for a luxe European cruise, I would have given it a shot. Like I said in the first piece, I don’t want to hate cruises, I’m just not going to spend any of my money or vacation days on one again. I’m excited to read your reactions and see more pictures of your cruise.

  11. I had a chance to listen to the interview. I thought you did really well. You could have simply said that when you are on a cruise you feel like you are at a live shooting of “The People of Walmart.”

    1. I didn’t want to offend the entire world with a comment like that, but it has been my experience on the cruises I’ve been on. Would have been pretty funny though. Thanks, Mateo!

  12. Leah! So cool and I so totally agree with you. I can almost say I hate cruising too! I just don’t want to go. It is like going to a resort that could be anywhere in the world and you wouldn;t even know it. I am from Texas too, so I get the Texas accent comments when I speak too! Hope to meet you at TBEX Toronto and Dublin! Meet your friend Mrs O in Spain and then again in Italy at TBE.

    1. I’ll for sure be in Toronto, so let’s connect there. Yes, I’m not big on cruises or resort stays. I make it a point to get outside of the walls of the resort and explore. That’s when you’re truly able to connect with a place.

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