Tag-Archive for » Captain Luca Manzi «

Photo Essay: Captains of the Seas

We’ve only met, over the years of cruising, one ship’s captain we didn’t like — and that's likely because he never gave us the chance to like him (“I don’t do interviews”). This is a colony of mostly men who are all personable, often funny, always accommodating and forever fascinating.

These are our top ten, in no particular order — hey, what's wrong with having 10 favourites? — and we've included something about them that we hope you'll find interesting:

1-Capt. Gustavsen-Sky

Captain Roger Gustavsen (Norway), Norwegian Sky 
The first captain to invite us to watch departure from the bridge, he once had his mother there on the Norwegian Dream while negotiating the Kiel Canal: “You know how mothers always like to tell their sons what to do. She wanted to tell me how to drive the ship!”

2-Capt. Manetas-Eclipse

Captain Dimitrios Manetas (Greece), Celebrity Eclipse 
He watched ships come and go from his home in Piraeus, near Athens: “
I knew when I was a teenager, about 15, that I would be on the sea. it always inspired me. I was always curious for the unknown.”

3-Henrik Loy-Explorer

Captain Henrik Loy (Norway), Explorer of the Seas 
​One of the youngest (38) captains anywhere, he met his wife Karina, now a mother of three, when she was a dancer on Liberty of the Seas when they met and he calls it: “A true love boat story. We are really on the same page and we make it work.

4-Frank Juliussen-Epic

Captain Frank Juliussen (Norway), Norwegian Epic 
He had to overcome seasickness and bad days at sea: “
I don't have bad days and I have learned to enjoy this. You meet a lot of nice people. The world is full of nice people, and a lot of them do what they call ‘dirty work’ on cruise ships.”

5-Capt. Amitrano

Captain Fabio Amitrano (Italy), Coral Princess  A seaman for more than four decades since he left Ischia, a resort island with hot springs: “All the ladies come there to look younger. It must work, because they keep coming back!” 

6-Capt. Viacama-Ecstasy

Captain Andrea Viacava (Italy), Carnival Ecstasy 
A character with an easy laugh and a sense of humor: "
When I am stressed, I go down in the galley and cook a meal. I cook something every day. Gnocci, risotto with pumpkin…sometimes I cook for 40 persons.”

7-Capt. Dahlgren-Navigator

Captain Patrik Dahlgren (Sweden), Navigator of the Seas 
He’s still not 40, he’s now Royal Caribbean’s Vice-President of Marine Operations for Quantum of the Seas Technology, after serving for years as the youngest captain anywhere on the ocean: “I started when I was 12.”

8-Capt. Manzi-Coral

Captain Luca Manzi (Italy), Oceania Riviera 
When he visits his roots in Italy: “I still have to explain what I do for a living. My friends ask what I do — ‘Sailing?' In Italian, it's the word used to surf the Internet, so now I say I do nothing for a living."

9-Capt. Vorren-Epic

Captain Trygve Vorren (Norway), Norwegian Epic 
Not long before he died suddenly, he shared thoughts on the size of ships: “What will catch people’s attention will be the future. Look at the last 20 years…we developed technology we never imagined. What did we do, not in cruising but in life, before the Internet?”

10-Capt. Tore-Allure

Captain Tore Grimstad (Norway), Allure of the Seas 
Now sharing the captain’s chair on the Allure with close friend Johnny Faevelen, he was once on an American-Russian-Norwegian ship with the capability of launching rockets, near the equator: “I was captain, not a rocket scientist!"

Today at portsandbows.com: Reflecting on the cruise news of 2014

Carnival Glory
7 nights
January 24, 2015
Miami (return): Half Moon CaySan JuanSt. Thomas
Inside: $299
Cost per day: $42


Captains of the Seas: Luca Manzi

Rod Stewart used to sing "Every Picture Tells A Story." We don't sing but for us "Every Captain Is A Story."

Usually, all you have to do is ask.

So while on Oceania's new Riviera, we asked Captain Luca Manzi. Like most captains we've met, he was initially reluctant and, also like most, he was personable and engaging and interesting.

And as you will see, he has a sense of humor.

Born in Italy, he is the Riviera's first captain, a position he exchanges with a captain from Norway every 10 weeks. During his time off, Captain Manzi goes home to, ironically, Norway. That's where his wife — Vibeke, who is Norwegian — and two young children live while he guides Oceania's new cruise ship around international waters that sometimes are not far from his original home.

That would be Chiavari, an Italian Riviera town of about 30,000 residents. He came from a family with no nautical background: "Nobody in my family was doing this. My grandfather on my father's side was in the navy but there was no direct family member in the merchant marine."

Today when he returns, as he does with his wife and children every summer, Manzi finds there is largely indifference about what he does for a living.

"Greeks have a tradition, and they are the only captains who somehow manage to keep their privilege — it is still considered prestigious," he explains. "In Italy, I've got a few friends and I still have to explain what I do for a living. I have a couple of months vacation and they are completely confused. They say: 'What do you do, sailing?' Translated, it's exactly the same word used in Italian to surf the Internet. So now I say I do nothing for a living."

His path to Oceania is only slightly typical. Nautical school followed high school, then the Naval Academy and two and a half years in the Italian Navy.

Then, time to reflect.

"I was not yet fully satisfied," Capt. Manzi recalls. "One way to look at it is that this was a good school for life, for discipline and for rules. What I was missing was the action. I wasn't satisfied with having medals on my chest just for sailing 3,000 or 4,000 miles, and so I asked: 'Am I in the right place?'"

About 23 years ago, he joined the merchant marine and worked his way up to first officer on a cargo ship.

"That was in 1995. We are very unstable people. We are always looking for something better. I was not 100 per cent happy with the life and by then my dream was to be on a passenger ship. I applied for two or three different management jobs on a passenger ship. One hired me as a second officer on a small ship with Renaissance Cruises."

His promotional timing was a little off. After six years on 120-passenger vessels that he calls "practically private yachts" he became a captain…just as Renaissance was going bankrupt. Its ships — known in the industry as the "R" ships — were afloat but all the captains had to do was maintain them.

That changed in 2003: "Oceania had one ship and I had a chance to go back as a staff captain. I had to go down a level but it was that or being captain of a dead ship. It was no choice."

Since then, he has worked on all four Oceania ships, five if you count the now-departed Insignia. He delivered Riviera's older sister, the Marina, from the shipyard and a year later did the same with the ship that would be his after supervising the last six months of Riviera's construction in Genoa.

"I am honored to be the first captain," he adds. "If you are lucky in life you can have something happen to you one time. Some people wait their whole career for something like this. Was I nervous? Yes and no. More excited and happy."

Like most cruise ship captains, his English is excellent…although he mildly disagrees.

"But the first time on a ship my English was close to zero," he says. "I never practiced the proper way. Fortunately, this [Oceania] is an American company. That helped a lot. If I went to England, they would say I speak poor English but it is the ship's English."

At 45, he has been a captain for eight years, and he's just getting started.

"I will stay on ships until I am 85, God willing!" he laughs. "I have no problem to stay even longer than that….but that is how it used to be. The pool was unlimited and captains really would stay until they were 75 or 80, so they were not moving. If you don't clear the top, you don't move up."

By taking command of the Riviera, Luca Manzi is at the top…not clearing it.

Holland America Eurodam
10 nights
October 4, 2012
New York, Newport, Gloucester, Bar Harbor, Halifax, Sydney, Charlottetown, Saguenay, Quebec City
Inside: $1,099
Cost per day: $109

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