A lucky Irish traveller has won the job of her dreams – and a huge trophy – after beating 75,000 applicants to become the official Instagrammer for Royal Caribbean.
Ciara Flynn’s winning photograph of two young Buddhist monks has afforded her the chance to travel the oceans in complete luxury as the cruise ship’s social media photographer.
The budding shutterbug from Dublin, Republic of Ireland, will journey for three weeks across three oceans on three different ships this summer with all of her food, drink, accommodation, entertainment, flights and expenses covered by Royal Caribbean.
Ms Flynn, who earns a living working as a tour guide to fund her travels around the world, will also receive £3,000 cash prize.
Applicants were asked to post their most inspiring image on Instagram, with the hashtag #ExtraordinaryExplorer.
Although entries were limited to British and Irish candidates, it struck a chord with travellers all over the world, with almost 350,000 people worldwide posting to the hashtag, hoping that their image might be considered.
Ms Flynn’s adventure will take her to three continents with destination highlights including New York, the Caribbean, Asia and the Mediterranean.
She will be travelling on Ovation of the Seas from Beijing, Anthem of the Seas from New York and Freedom of the Seas in Barcelona.
City splendour: A shot of New Year’s Eve in London (left) and of a snowy Central Park in New York were also shortlisted
Ms Flynn said: ‘Becoming Royal Caribbean’s Extraordinary Explorer is the experience of a lifetime. I’ve always loved photography and have been doing it for as long as I can remember.
‘Capturing the magic in the ordinary moments in life tells a much richer story than words ever could, so I’m thrilled to be able to get the chance to do this with Royal Caribbean.’
She continued: ‘I spent hours sat in a monastery at Kathmandu just watching these young monks before I shot this picture [her winning entry]. Seeing them subtly switch between being children and monks gave me a glimpse into a different and fascinating culture. As a unique moment in time, I wanted to use Instagram to share it with the world.’
The search to find someone to fulfil the Instagram ‘Intern-Ship’ was launched by Royal Caribbean in January.
The campaign was the brainchild of Ben Bouldin, Royal Caribbean’s Managing Director UK and Ireland, and came in response to data showing that more and more people were using social media channels as inspiration when booking their holidays.
The budding shutterbug from Dublin, Republic of Ireland, will travel for three weeks across three oceans, on three different ships this summer with all of her food, drink, accommodation, entertainment, flights and expenses covered by Royal Caribbean
Bouldin said: ‘Our research revealed that social media has redefined the holiday market. Over half of 18-24-year-olds rely completely on channels such as Instagram when researching holidays and more than a third of people said that seeing their friends’ bragging posts from abroad had encouraged them to book a trip.’
A judging panel comprising travel blogger Johnny Ward; Travel Weekly Editor-in-Chief Lucy Huxley and Royal Caribbean’s Ben Bouldin sifted through the entries, and were huge fans of Ms Flynn’s winning entry. The shot was taken shortly before a trek to Mount Everest and provides a rare snapshot into the lives of two children half the world away.
Ben Bouldin, Royal Caribbean’s Managing Director, UK and Ireland, said: ‘Ciara’s entry was everything we were looking for when we launched our Instagram “Intern-ship”. Her image has strong visual appeal, originality and inspires viewers to jump out of the ordinary and explore the world.
‘Most importantly, it also captures a subtle but amazing moment that draws the viewer into her story.
‘We’re confident that throughout the “Intern-ship”, Ciara will be able to skillfully shoot similarly amazing moments on board our fleet, capturing the imaginations of the younger generation and inspiring them to consider cruising as their next big adventure.’