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The Queen, Olympics and…Breakaway?

The Norwegian Breakaway arrives in Bermuda today, its first port on its first cruise, and we're hoping Richard Janicki is on the ship.

Who's Richard Janicki?

He is a Norwegian employee, a hotel director, whom we happened to meet when we were last on the Epic. He's an interesting guy and — here's the reason we hope he's on the Breakaway as expected — he has paid his dues.

Interesting?

As a boy in France, he wanted to work in a hotel. He did, and cooked twice for Queen Elizabeth II…the woman, not the ship. His surname sounds as French as Wilson or Smith or Jones and he lives in his "paradise" — Greece. He has worked, as a volunteer, at seven Olympic Games.

Is that interesting enough?

"Usually, the boys, they want to be a firemen, you know," says Janicki, who was scheduled to work on the Breakaway's inaugural cruise this week. "I always wanted to work in the hotel industry when I was a kid…cooking and all that. You are quite fortunate when you are young and you know want you want to do."

Fortunate, later, to work at the Berkeley Hotel in London.

"I was a chef there," he says. "I cooked for the Queen of England twice. I make one dish for her…lobster salad. She just came for dinner. She was on a night out with her husband, that's all it was. Not formal. She was out on a date. The second time, the hotel was celebrating its 21st birthday and when you reach 21 years of age in England, it's a big deal. We brought in chefs from around the world during the year and on that week it was Chef Miko Lee from Tokyo and since he spoke more French than English, I was assigned to work with him the entire week, and she came the second time to eat from the menu of Chef Miko Lee."

Working at the Berkeley was one circumstance that would shape Janicki's career. The Olympics was another, beginning in Albertville, with the Winter Games of 1992.

"They were looking for volunteers and I applied," says Janicki, who has worked on cruise ships for 17 years, the last 13 with Norwegian.  "My sister and my brother were in Lens, and they volunteered. At the Olympics, I worked for a group that catered to VIPs, in hospitality. You learn a lot of things there. Cooking was my major but I worked in dining rooms and bars, a lot of logistics…accounting, because you need to learn about these things. You never know if you're going to work on a cruise ship one day or if you're going to own your own restaurant, so you need to be a good accountant, too."

After Albertville, there were Summer Games in Barcelona (1992), Atlanta (1996) and Athens (2004), and Winter Games in Lillehammer (1994), Nagano (1998) and Torino (2006). Some of those experiences surface on cruise ships today.

He elaborates this way:

"Sometimes I explain to the crew when things have to happen right now…it's like a 100-meter race. They have billions of people watching on TV, and more in the stadium, and the race is going to happen right now. So the guy with the gun who starts the race, the gun has to work. And the guy with the chrono, the chrono has to work because it takes less than 10 seconds, and you don't have a re-take, like a movie.

"When guests come on the cruise, they save money all their life to buy a cruise for their anniversary or they're honeymooners, and it's their first time cruising. It's irrelevant how good we were the cruise before, or how good we're going to be for the cruise the next week. We have to be good for them right now, because that's their time — right now. And people will judge you on that because it's their cruise right now. You cannot spoil that and say, 'Well, sorry, we'll do better next time.'"

This week, that means the Breakaway's inaugural guests.


Holland America Zaandam
7 nights
June 2, 2013
Anchorage, Glacier Bay, Haines, Juneau, Ketchikan, Vancouver
Inside: $299
Cost per day: $42
www.hollandamerica.com

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