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Since his days as rugby league’s Newcastle Knights captain, Paul ‘The Chief’ Harragon OAM has settled into family life and shares his love of cruising with Cruise Passenger.

Family man, former footballer and sometime ‘Chief’ from Channel Nine’s The Footy Show, Paul Harragon, is a man of many talents, but in his free time he loves to go cruising with his family.

Tell us about the cruises you’ve taken…

My first cruise was way back when I was 19, on the old Fairstar. I was single and went with a group of three friends for a cruise around the Pacific Islands.

Another was 11 years ago with my family – my wife, Pam, and our two kids, Luke and Emmy, who were two and three at the time. At that age we could sometimes leave the children at the childminding centres and we could relax a bit.

Our most recent cruise was onboard P&O Cruises’ Pacific Dawn for an eight-day holiday to Far North Queensland. You’re going to laugh – we called in at Brisbane, the Great Barrier Reef, Townsville and Port Douglas, but we didn’t get off once! The kids [Paul and his wife welcomed their third child, Daniel, to their family] would go to the kids’ clubs, and because they’re different ages they were split up into different groups. They loved the entertainment and made a heap of friends, plus it was great to know they were happy and safe. Pam and I had to round them up for meal times just so we could come together a few times a day!

What’s the best thing about cruising?

I love how you come back from spending the day on a beautiful tropical island and the cabin feels like home. The cabins are always good; I love staring out at the ocean and seeing what is out there. I’ve seen whales from the cabin window and also flying fish! I was like, “What about these birds diving into the water!” before I realised what they were.

Describe your most memorable cruising experience for us…

I really enjoy all the destinations but my favourite memory of cruising was having the opportunity to spend some quality time with Pam. We’d have a family meal and then the kids went out to their after-dinner entertainment and we went to see a production by ourselves. It was something we hadn’t done in a while – enjoy some time together. After the show we still had an hour before the kids came back so we went to the Piano Bar for a drink and just talked.

What did you do most days?

It was good to hang around the pool on sunny days, everyone’s there, and you can slip off for a meal – the food’s wonderful! Every time we’ve cruised we met heaps of great people and, because you’re with them the whole holiday, you really make a bond – some we’re still in touch with from 11 years ago.

How have your onboard experiences changed since your first cruise?

My first cruise was about seeing and doing everything and cramming as much as possible into the time I had, burning the candle at both ends and going at 100 miles an hour! There is so much to do abroad and onboard we didn’t want to miss anything. Then you can go right down the other end of the scale – read books, go for massages, walk around the deck – really just enjoy the moment.

What’s your favourite way of whiling away the hours?

I love a good competitive game of [badminton]. We’d get some friends we’d met onboard together and really get into it. I don’t mind finishing the day off with a sneaky bet in the casino either!

Where’s your favourite destination?

I’d say Vila in Vanuatu. We’ve gone to a beautiful waterfall there – swimming, jumping, snorkelling – and we had a delicious seafood meal in a restaurant there. If you’re into diving, it’s fantastic in Vila!

Do you like the fact that you can now cruise from Newcastle?

Well, thankfully P&O Cruises chose Newcastle as the only non-capital city in Australia to call one of its ships ‘home’. It really is a privilege that we can cruise from our home city and I feel very special to be an ambassador for that.

Fact File

Your favourite cruise ships: Pacific Dawn

Favourite destinations: Vila in the Pacific Islands

Number of cruises taken: 3