Meet the crew: JD

Meet the crew: JD


We talked to JD, Bar Manager on board the Celestyal Journey, about the inspiration behind Celestyal’s incredible signature cocktail menu… and his surprising other role on board.

1. How did you get to your current position?
I’ve been with the company for 18 years. I had been working as an actor and in a bar in the Philippines before I applied to work on the ship. I started on a utility contract, in a crew support role. It’s a good foundation before stepping into a guest-facing role. Then I was promoted to bar waiter in 2007 and have been working my way up ever since.

2. Can you tell us about a typical day for you?
There are more than 65 bar crew across the ship, working across eight bars. There are eight of us in the Martini Bar – four bar waiters, three bartenders and the crew members who maintain the space, so that it’s always pristine.


It’s our job to make sure everyone has a great time on board, so our day is divided between stocking up the bar and spending time with guests. At the end of each night, I’ll check that all the equipment is working and everything is properly clean. If anything isn’t right, we’ll correct it there and then: otherwise if something isn’t working, there’s a ripple effect across the whole operation the next day.

3. What’s the most popular cocktail on board?
Under the Sea, made with Hendrick’s gin, lemon squash and other special ingredients. Only two of us know the secret recipe. It comes in a test tube and it’s blue and red. And it’s also great value, because guests get two cocktails from it.

4. What’s your favourite cocktail?
Probably Pirate’s Comfort. It’s inspired by the legends and history around Santorini. According to Greek mythology, the son of Poseidon threw a lump of earth into the sea, and created the island. So we make the cocktail look like a chest, covered with Greek grapes to represent the earth. Even the glass itself is shaped like a globe, to commemorate the ancient Minoan tribes who first settled on the island. When it comes to the signature cocktails, it’s all in the detail.

5. Where do you get inspiration for the menu?
Our cocktail menu is bigger than ever this year, and we’re really proud of them. They’re based around Greek mythology, and by Greece itself, especially the fruits and local liqueurs, like Skinos, made from the resin of mastic trees in Chios.

We’re the only ship where all the signature cocktails are created by the bartenders. We go through a lot of trial and error before we decide on the final mix, but we have a lot of support from our Operations Manager, Mr. Michael. He says to us, ‘Don’t be scared to make mistakes.’ That makes us braver to try new things, because we know that even if we fail, we’ll learn something. It gives us the opportunity to make the menu as perfect as we can.

6. What’s the biggest challenge?
Consistency. We have to make sure all cocktails come out the same as the pictures. It should be like that. Because we have a reputation to live up to and because we want guests to have those picture-perfect moments to share with their friends and family back home.

7. What’s your favourite onboard meal?
I love chicken gyros from the Greek Deli. It’s a dish of chicken cooked on a rotisserie then served in pitta bread with some salad and tzatziki.

8. Tell us something surprising about yourself
I’m the senior magician of the ship. About 17 years ago I found a pack of playing cards and showed one trick to one passenger. I saw their reaction, and they told me I’d made their holiday an experience they’d never forget. Then in 2009 I was showing some of my magic tricks to a passenger, who turned out to be one of our big bosses, who put me on stage. So between 2009 and 2018 I was doing the crew show for the bar, doing stand up comedy and magic. Since then, the company has hired three more magicians!

9. What have you adopted from Greek culture?
I’m from the Philippines, but I’ve worked in this area for a long time, so I’ve adopted most of the Greek culture. Especially the food! I think there are a lot of similarities between Greek and Filipino culture. When we party, we both party loud. Not in a bad way – we just express our emotions freely. And both cultures put a lot of effort into celebrations, with big spreads of food. So I think that’s a connection there, too.

10. What does Filoxenia mean to you?
Filipino people are very welcoming, like the Greeks. Even if they don’t know you, they will feed you. And I think that’s at the heart of Filoxenia: just making everyone feel welcome and giving them the best possible experience on board. It’s what we try to do every night in the bar.