Salty Nuts Turns Salty Sea Dog

HARRY McNULTY aka SALTY NUTS, this year secured the world’s most coveted ‘Apprentice-ship’ and gained the title of Royal Caribbean’s ‘Shore Explorer’. This summer he set off on an all-expenses-paid world trip, exploring incredible destinations like Japan, Alaska, Europe and the Middle East...

HARRY McNULTY aka SALTY NUTS, this year secured the world’s most coveted ‘Apprentice-ship’ and gained the title of Royal Caribbean’s ‘Shore Explorer’. This summer he set off on an all-expenses-paid world trip, exploring incredible destinations like Japan, Alaska, Europe and the Middle East…

Harry, who goes by the social handle @saltynuts_, blew the judging panel away with his entry, going over and above the brief by creating a spectacular video montage of his travels. He was tasked with seeking out new land-based experiences across the globe that will ultimately influence the Royal Caribbean’s shore excursion programme.

Typically offering a vast array of incredible shore excursions, Royal Caribbean wanted their 2019 ‘Shore-Explorer’ to push the boundaries of adventure and inspire their shore excursion team to offer guests even more amazing adventures at destinations across the world. Harry returned to Dublin – where he is currently busy training with the Ireland rugby sevens team – after his whirlwind three-week trip having ticked off many Insta-worthy adventures and mean feats on his adrenaline fuelled bucket list.

Harry has taken some time out of his busy schedule to share with NI Travel News some of the fantastic stories from his trip, chat about all things Royal and give the low-down on Perfect Day at CocoCay. You spent three-weeks travelling the world as Royal Caribbean’s official ‘Shore Explorer Apprentice’.

Q: Just how many destinations did you manage to cram into those three weeks?

A: I managed to fit in seven destinations in three and a half weeks. It was a whirlwind and I had to battle through the jetlag, but it was one of the most exciting things I have ever done! I feel very lucky to have been given the opportunity to see so much of the world and travel on Royal Caribbean’s amazing ships.

Q: We know you’ve had a jam-packed adventure, but can you tell us your top three favourite destinations?

A: That’s a tricky question because at every destination I visited there was something new and different to experience but Alaska was probably my favourite place! I couldn’t have imagined how beautiful it would be and it feels very raw and untouched. I fell in love with Lisbon. I never gave much thought into European cities as I live so close. The food was outstanding. Beautiful art lining all the narrow cobblestone streets, beaches, castles and nightlife. I had a blast! Of course, I have to include Perfect Day at CocoCay. I was among the first to experience the island and was totally blown away by the atmosphere and the variety of attractions and experiences.

Q: Out of all the awesome land-based experiences you sought out on your ‘Apprentice-ship’ which was the one that you would recommend everyone adds to their bucket list?

A: I did lots of adrenaline fuelled excursions like helicopter rides and ziplining, which were amazing but something I think everyone would enjoy would be the Whale Watching in Alaska. That was something a child or a grandparent would enjoy in equal measure!

Q: We know that travelling is enhanced by the people you meet on the way. Did you meet any unique or memorable characters on your travels?

A: One of my favourite things about travelling is meeting new people and immersing myself in the culture of the place I am visiting. It is always worth chatting to the locals in a new place because they are often able to answer the questions that Google can’t, and give you great recommendations for things to do and hidden gems for the best food. I met lovely people in Nassau, where I found myself in a local restaurant and ended up making friends with some of the staff. I sat chatting to the locals over a meal of the infamous “Conch Fritters” and as I was leaving, they offered to drop me back at the port!

Q: We’re sure there was plenty of amazing moments on your trip, but was their one outstanding ‘WOW’ moment?

A: Flying over the glaciers in Alaska on a helicopter was a ‘pinch-me’ moment. I ‘lucked out’ with the weather- there were blue skies and the sun was shining, which is not common in that part of the world so it was a truly unique, once-in-a-lifetime kind of experience. I also got to try dog sledding on the same excursion, where I had the opportunity to take control of the sled and then meet all the huskies after – hard to beat that really!

Q: A three-week trip must have taken some inventive packing. Are you a light packer or a kitchen sink kind of guy? Were you living out of a rucksack or did you have a car following behind loaded with luggage?

A: I like to think that I’m a light packer! Travelling the world with rugby has taught me a lot about packing properly. When my clothes bag is lighter than my camera bag, I know I’ve packed well! I knew for this trip I’d be experience contrasting climates, so it was important for me to have the right gear. I would wear my hiking shoes during all my long travel days so that they didn’t take up room in my bags, and I bought swim shorts that were designed to look like chino shorts so that I could wear them when I went for lunch and look presentable! As long as I have my camera, a pair of swimming shorts and some comfy shoes I am usually good to go!

Q: You’re a self-taught Insta-traveller… what are your top tips for capturing those special moments on ‘film’?

A: For me it’s all about having fun. So that’s when I find myself capturing most of my content. I have my time to enjoy the moment, but I also make sure to take a photo or video along the way to make sure I bring a physical memory home. Top tip would be – don’t try and force a shot. Live in the moment of the action and have fun. If you have a chance mid moment for a photo, take it. Also, of the amazing shots you see out there are “set up” – someone has thought of an idea or a shot and then they went out of their way to capture it. This may sound contradictory, but if the camera is set up to capture a moment as it happens then it allows you to enjoy every moment and scroll through the photos later.

Q: Cruising is booming at the minute, it’s stepped out of the doldrums and into the twenty-first century. It’s no longer thought of as the kind of holiday only the older generations take – millennials are fully LOVING the new updated ships and the fact that you can cram so many adventures at so many different destinations into one trip. Had you ever been on a cruise before securing the ‘Apprentice-ship’ and if not are you now a convert?

A: No, I had never been on a cruise before and I never imagined there would be so much to do on board. There were more activities to try out than I could even find time for; from the 40-foot-long FlowRider surf simulator, to basketball courts and climbing walls, the Perfect Storm waterslides, and the beautiful spas and pool areas, there is something for everyone! I especially loved the party atmosphere around the pool are during the day. There was a relaxed, chilled-out vibe with music playing – it felt like the ultimate pool party at sea! The hospitality was also world-class, and the range of food and drink options is impressive. I could choose between Mexican, sushi, Italian, American diner favourites and much more, meaning I was trying out a different cuisine every evening. I understand why people choose a cruise holiday with Royal Caribbean again and again. It is also very cool waking up in the morning and throwing open the curtains to find yourself in a new place.

Q: So, you were one of the first people to step foot on Royal Caribbean’s new private island Perfect Day at CocoCay. Make us jealous… how amazing was it?

A: Out of this world. Perfect Day is home to the perfect combination of ‘thrill’ and ‘chill’ activities. Whether you’re the type to chase an adrenaline rush, or you like to chill-out and enjoy ultimate relaxation there is something for everyone on the island, no matter your age or your holiday preferences! It’s probably impossible to fit in all the activities and check out all the facilities on the island in just one day but I gave it a good go! I started at Thrill Waterpark where you can find the tallest slide in North America — Daredevil’s Peak. At 135-foot it isn’t for the faint hearted. I cannot describe the speed! I was screaming the whole way down. It is one of my favourite slides I’ve ever been on. Then I had to wind down after all the excitement and let the adrenaline levels return to normal, so I chilled out at the Oasis Lagoon, which is the largest freshwater pool in the Caribbean.

Q: Now that you’ve spent the summer jetting around the globe, how are you finding settling back into home-life? Are you itching for your next adventure already?

A: I am starting to get back into some sort of routine because I have rugby training during the week but I never stay at home for too long before I’m off on the next adventure. I was in Munich recently for Oktoberfest which was lot of fun! I have also been exploring at home in Ireland over the last couple of months. I think this country is so beautiful! The Wild Atlantic Way is easily my favourite trip to do at home. The scenery is unlike anywhere else in the world!