What does the day in the life of a Carnival Cruise Line Captain look like? We spoke to Captain Vittorio Marchi of the Carnival Spirit to find out.
How did you become a captain?
That’s quite a funny story, actually. I’m from a place called Camogli, a seaside village on the Italian Riviera. And in the city, there is probably the oldest nautical school in Italy. The school was two minutes from my house so, since I like to sleep in, I chose the school because it was very convenient.
When did you start working for Carnival?
When I finished nautical school I went to the navy because at that time it was compulsory. Then, after the navy, I applied for several different companies, and the first one that called me was Carnival Cruise Line. I said, ‘Okay, I’ll give it a try.’ That was August 1988. So 30 years ago.
What does a typical day look like?
If it’s a sea day, it starts around 8 o’clock in the morning with coffee and emails. After the emails, a quick walk around the ship seeing the Directors and the guests – I like to see the mood of the ship. Then, liaising with the hotel department, technical department, nautical department. Then it’s back to the office and, in the afternoon, we have an arrival briefing or nautical briefing on the bridge with the team. So it’s people work and office work, and then the day is gone.
Is meeting guests a big part of your job?
Yes, of course, guest relations are very important. So part of my day is spending time with guests on the decks, in the lounges, at functions, meeting and greeting the guests, and having dinner with them.
What do they usually ask you about?
“Who’s driving the ship?” To which I usually say, “I don’t know,” in jest! Ninety-nine per cent of the time, that’s the first question I’m asked. Sometimes, people want to thank me for the crew and the good job the crew does, and some of them want to know about navigation or how the ship is run.
Technology must have changed so much since you first started working with Carnival…
When I started I was on the Mardi Gras, it was a turbine steam ship. That was back in 1988. There was not one single computer on the bridge. Zero. Nada. Now, if you look around, you see more computer screens than anything else.
Has it made your job easier?
I don’t know. That’s what everybody says, that the computers should help us doing our job. And the computers, they are beautiful, they work very well, but really what is more important is the time you have spent at sea. Your experience. It’s a package of experiences, which you put in your pocket and sometimes it comes in handy again. Technology has especially facilitated safety enormously – before, the patrolling was done by people who were going around the ship checking, but obviously you cannot be in every place all the time. Nowadays smoke detectors, heat detectors and flame detectors are constantly checking the space and we can immediately know if we have something that is not going as it’s supposed to be. We can intervene in almost no time.
You’ve got a very responsible job … how do you relax?
Well, mostly I go for a walk. That’s the time when I make most decisions. If I have to make a decision, a good hour walk will help. It’s just because you forget about everything else except your pace of walking, and you’re thinking. And it works very well.
What’s your favourite thing to do in your day?
Spend time on the bridge in the morning, watching the sun rise. It’s the most beautiful time because on the bridge there is not that much noise. There are no communications: we all know that sunrise is the time just to look and appreciate nature. It’s the most beautiful moment in the entire day.