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Winning Cruise Entertainer of the Year! Wow, what was that like?
It was absolutely amazing! I honestly had no idea! My agent had confided in my husband but neither said one word to me before the press announcement in ‘The Stage’ in December 2012, the weekly news journal for the entertainments industry. I was away performing on a ship when the press made the award announcement so although I was thrilled and very excited I could not wait to get home to hold the trophy! The Cruise Director of the Saga Sapphire ship that I was on at the time kindly announced to all of the passengers that I had won the award and so I had, as you could imagine, absolutely marvellous passenger feedback for the duration of the cruise! And when eventually I got to hold the gleaming crystal trophy for the first time I felt so proud, although that was not until after I got off that ship as the trophy was presented to me on another Saga ship a few weeks later! At that time I only had 3 years cruise ship experience, I was a relative newcomer to performing on cruise ships, so I was up against so many excellent performers with lifetimes of experience, and so I felt very humbled and so honoured to win this fabulous award! It was a magical day! Well, a magical year really!
What do you sing?
I have a broad repertoire with over 300 songs on backing tracks and I have the band parts written for a 10-piece orchestra containing 4 cabaret shows each of 45 minutes long, plus I write my own arrangements and I also write my own songs, music and lyrics ... I also accompany myself on piano! My performances are tailored to the audience or to the client’s needs, and I have something to suit all tastes combining Classical, Jazz, Show and Popular music.
Who inspires you?
I source my inspiration from Celine Dion, Barbra Streisand and musical theatre.
Who accompanies you?
When I am performing on the ships I have a band behind me and I play the piano in my shows as well - sometimes I also have female backing singers as well, depending upon the ship. For theatre shows on land there is a full orchestra and I have sung backed by a 70-piece orchestra which was a phenomenal experience! For national choir performances there is usually just a piano... but just imagine how wonderful it is was for me to have a full choir of 100 men behind me all singing along with you! For private bookings I take my own backing tracks along with my sound engineer. Sometimes however I just sing totally unaccompanied ‘A Cappela’.
Where are you from?
I am Welsh and I am very proud of it! I was born in the Neath valley, I moved to Swansea for 10 years and went back for a while to live in the same Welsh village that I was born in. My parents lived within a 30 seconds walk and my grandfather within another 20 seconds walk from them! In that part of Wales families and family values are important! I do not speak Welsh although I sing in Welsh, Italian and French … as well as English! If this makes me sound like a simple country girl from the valleys then I am not, far from it! I have travelled around the globe and I have even stepped foot on Antarctica, I consider myself as cosmopolitan with friends who live abroad and I have a fabulous villa in the sun, in Spain .... which is where I now live!
What is your experience?
I have been performing for over 30 years, from the age of 9, and singing professionally now for 11 years. I have released 5 albums, 2 of which became BBC Radio Wales ‘Album of The Week’. I served my apprenticeship the hard way, in restaurants and clubs – hard and punishing work, but a crucial grounding and personality forming experience. I have worked on the international scene for 7 years now and I have completed over 330 performances on cruise ships. Some years I have performed to over 30,000 people a year.
How much do you charge?
For private work I always try to work to each specific client’s budget, and my fee covers my performance, my sound engineer, travel etc., and once the fee is agreed and ‘set in stone’ there are no ‘nasty surprises’ nor ‘hidden extras’. For all international work my sole worldwide agent Gary Parkes Music in London sets my fee and issues the contracts.
How far will you travel to perform?
I have travelled the length and breadth of the UK for private work, and internationally I’ve been as far south as Antarctica and as far north as above the Arctic Circle, as far east as St. Petersburg Russia and as far west as Tahiti in the Pacific. I have performed in so many lovely places; The Caribbean, in Brazil, in Africa (I have even cruised up the Amazon river), on numerous Baltic cruises and the usual Med cruises, on various World Cruises taking in USA ports, Mexico, Guatemala and Costa Rica, I've also performed on cruises to Iceland, Norway and to The North Cape, through the fjords, to the Greek islands, to the Netherlands, Denmark, to Gibraltar, Portugal, Madeira, Sardinia, and numerous Canary Island cruises, I've sailed through the Panama, Suez and Keil canals and even in the inland waterways in France ... but the absolute highlight was the Antarctica Expidition where I actually stepped foot on this 7th Continent! Basically I will travel to wherever I am needed! Geographical boundaries are no problem for me!
What is a typical performance?
That depends as all performances are tailored to the specific audience or the specific needs of the client. For cruise ship performances it is typically just one or two shows each week where I am the headline solo act, with each show lasting 45 minutes, each show being a balanced mixture of big ‘power ballads’, show songs, popular songs, ‘A Capella’ highlights, audience participation and I’ll play the piano whilst singing too. For theatre shows I am usually a guest act so I usually perform a few well known numbers. For international shows, say the likes of Thompson Gold Hotels, I usually fly to the venue on the day of the show, perform the show that night and fly home the next day. My show typically consists of one or two 45 minute sets, the first set being a balanced mixture usually like the cruise ship shows above and the second set being a ‘get up and dance’ set of popular songs. For private work it is whatever is agreed with the client, and for a private wedding that might be just two very special songs ‘from the heart’.
Can anyone book you?
Yes, although I will not sing in pubs and bars, and never have done so, but within reason anyone can book me.
What was your largest audience?
What was your smallest audience?
1 – to my then to be husband!
Where do you prefer to sing?
The pure romance, special atmosphere and glamour of performing to cruise ship audiences is wonderful, as is singing in an old ‘grand’ theatre with it’s fabulous acoustics, but then again I adore singing with choirs and one of my great loves is to sing at a wedding ceremony as this brings so much pleasure to the bride and groom, and yet I also love simply being on the stage in a deserted theatre and singing to my heart’s content to an empty auditorium! In essence, the truth is that I love singing and I would sing every single day, all day and all night long too if I could!
What cruise ships have you performed on?
I have performed on over 20 ships in total from Seabourn, Holland America Line, Saga, Fred Olsen and Cruise & Maritime cruise lines, and because I enjoy it so much and I have so much passion for what I do, I have also performed on the Cunard flagship the Queen Mary II transatlantic on the way to New York whilst on holiday! 
Do you get sea sick?
Only the once! I thought I was going to die on my first ship, but now I wonder what all the fuss was about! I have been in force 10’s and I am not troubled at all now.
Any advice to would-be first time cruise ship passengers?
Just do it! It is a wonderful holiday, and it can be as busy or as lazy as you want it to be. It is a wonderful opportunity to meet new like-minded people, or simply to ‘chill out’ and read a book … and to dress up and pamper oneself. Then there is the fantastic food, the programme of excursions, and of course the evening shows themselves … wonderful! And if you are worried about being sea sick then one may take anti-sea sickness tablets before the onset of nausea (I didn't that first time on a cruise ship!), there are wrist bands that some people swear by and the ships have remedies that are available, normally free of charge at reception, that are said to work.
How do you describe yourself?
I am just a normal ‘girl next door’ type. On the cruise ships I am always ‘out front’ talking to the audience, not just pre and post show but throughout the entire cruise. When I am on cruise ships I am the one standing there awaiting my turn in the queue, just like everyone else, I do not lock myself away in my cabin, you’ll always find me sitting and chatting to the passengers.
If you won the lottery would you stop singing?
What is life as Maria Lyn really like?
Like a dream come true! To be gifted, as I am, and to be able to earn a living from that gift is wonderful. I can’t say that what I do is work, it isn’t, as I love what I do so very much, but the last few years have exceeded even my wildest dreams! I have secured international contracts singing on fabulous cruise ships and I have travelled to some fabulous places, for instance I have been to Russia three times, I’ve been to the ballet in St. Petersburg, I've seen whales in the ocean, I've been to Venice, I've been up close to iceburgs, I've been sacrificed to Neptune when crossing the Equator for the first time (!), I've cruised up the Amazon, around the North Cape, I've been to the Caribbean, I've seen the sensational Tenerife Symphony Orchestra perform their Christmas Day Concert and I've seen the fabulous New Year's Eve firework display in Funchal, Madeira, I've even seen the mystical Northern Lights ... the list goes on and on, it's a wonderful life, but the highlight has to be stepping foot on Antarctica, the 7th Continent! I have met some wonderful people whilst cruising and I've made some wonderful friends, but most importantly I met my now husband on a ship in March 2011. It was literally love at first sight and he got down on one knee to propose to me at the end of my show in front of all of the passengers when we were together on another ship in May 2011! We got married within a few months in July 2011. We went on honeymoon to Mauritius and we bought a lovely new house together in Wales which we both love, and my children have taken to him and both call him “dad”. During 2012 I was given the fabulous accolade from Saga cruises of being "One of our Top 5 acts" and on 20th December 2012 I won the Cruise Entertainer of The Year 2012 award and in 2015 I secured my frst contracts on the stunning 6 star Seabourn ships, so yes, my life has exceeded my wildest dreams!

It is wonderful to be repeatedly told by some passengers that they have specifically booked their cruise to see me perform! What an amazing complement! And I never tire of the full standing ovations at the end of my shows! I have an enviable reputation in the industry, not just with passengers but with the cruise companies too who reward me by providing me with full passenger status whilst I am on board, usually with a fabulous passenger suite and sometimes even a butler as well! And who could ever tire of being flown Business Class! I love my life!
And the future?
The entertainments industry is a fickle business to be in, and there are never any guarantees. I always give my best, I strive to be the best at what I do and always to ‘deliver’ shows that are always fresh, exciting, memorable and personal so I hope that my reputation continues to go before me and that I continue to be in demand. I hope to continue performing on cruise ships and to see the enjoyment in the passengers eyes and to hear first hand from them that they have enjoyed my shows.
Any advice to would be performers?
Get professionally trained, work hard, always warm up before a show, never be disheartened, always do your best, no matter what and get a good agent, but most of all enjoy it!


Sole Worlwide Representation


+44 (0)20 7794 1581

Web: www.garyparkes.com

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"Enchanting voice"    "Singing sensation"

Cruise Directors quotes

"Excellent audience interaction"    "Phenomenal empathy with the audience"    "Wonderful ability to reach out and touch the audience"  

The Telegraph

"Such a voice, such a style, such a presence"

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