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Lessons From Star Princess ‘Master’

My father taught us this: “Be happy with what you achieve, wherever you are. Try to do your best and be honest.” The teaching of life when we grew up was integrity, honesty and be happy with what we have. If you keep chasing something you will never be happy. You have to have a goal in life. It’s good to aspire to something but you don’t have to be selfish.

With every life, there are at least two stories, one personal and one professional. With Captain Stefano Ravera, Master of the Star Princess, both are interesting.

Capt. RaveraThis is the personal, yet it touches on the professional.

He comes from a small town on the east coast of Italy, near La Spezia, which is considered a small town because it’s lightly known, an after-thought by Italy’s Cinque Terre. The father he talks about was also a ship’s master, an occupation that rubbed off on both his sons, Stefano the elder and Paolo the younger. Ironically, today they both command Princess ships (Paolo is on the Sea Princess).

While their father’s skills rubbed off, it was not a given.

“No,” recalls Stefano, “we just like it. My father told us to do what we want. My sister doesn’t sail. She is nine years younger and has a university degree in language.”

There are cruise ship captains…and there are cruise ship captains. In the Ravera family, there’s clearly a code of ethics. Also responsibility.

Here is his:

“If I have a crew member who went to the hospital and I went to see them, or a passenger, they say ‘How come you came to the hospital?’ I say ‘Because you are in the hospital’ and I come to see how you are, if I can. If my mother’s in the hospital, I go. Why not? I try to pass this message to younger officers because we have a responsibility to bring up the younger generation. We cannot say the world is not good because of them. The world may not be good because we don’t create a better place.

“People will spend years to complain but will never spend one second to say thank-you. So it’s very important to spend that second to look after someone. Something that for us may take 10 minutes, but for another person it might last an entire life. We should never avoid doing that. It is very important. I believe in that. It’s my two-penny opinion.

“Every day I learn something. Every day is a learning day. You never stop learning, not even when you retire. I can see my father. He’s 86 years old and every day he learns something and he’s happy to do that. That I think is the way you have to approach life, with a positive attitude. Try to be a mentor for the future generation and pass what little I know to the other people.”

So it’s as much about the type of person he is as the type of captain. This was not a self-serving speech from the bridge…this was from a casual conversation in his office, a post-Capt. Raverascript to an interview about living your life at sea, which he has pretty much done since joining the Italian Merchant Marine as a 16-year-old deck boy 39 years ago.

It is his life. He hopes that will continue for 11 more years.

Nine months of every year, he’s on a ship — “That is my choice’ — and in the other three he spends time with his parents in Italy, his children in Eastern Canada and his partner in South Africa, where she is a doctor.

If he sees his brother, it’s usually like ships passing in the night, although one time they were on the Coral Princess together during a “shift change that lasted for two days in Fort Lauderdale.

“That was very nice, but we keep it low key,” smiles Stefano.

They are, however, a trivia item among cruise ship captains, or masters. One of his ships was the late Pacific Sky and Paolo is a former captain of her sister ship before it became the old and now-retired Dawn Princess.

“We both had the chance, being not extremely old, to command steam-turbine ships and that will never happen to any captain now on a passenger ship,” he explains. “The Sky was the last one afloat.”

The brothers share another quirk.

We’d heard Captain Ravera often refer to the Star Princess as “the white lady” so we asked him why.

“It’s a little tradition between me and my brother that we had in our family, because ships are female and passengers ships, most of the time, are painted white. So we call her the white lady because they are elegant, like a lady.”

Today at portsandbows.com: How to be loyal before being a cruise customer

Crown Princess
10 nights
September 23, 2015
Los Angeles (return): San Diego, Cabo San Lucas, La Paz, Loreto, Puerto Vallarta
Inside: $649
Cost per day: $64
www.princess.com

Cruising In The Sun A Time To Be Cautious

 

A visit to the family dermatologist (doesn't everybody have a family dermatologist?) raised the sometimes-uneasy spectra of using sunscreen. Few places is that more important than it is on a cruise ship…out in perpetual sunshine for long periods of time, frequently closer to the equator than normal.

As an aside, a Florida-based skin care company — in Cocoa, of all places — cleverly made a deal with Carnival to provide passengers on four ships this month (BreezeLibertyTriumph and Sunshine) with complimentary sunscreen. There are gallon-size pumps and sampling stations plus individual packets. If the marketing campaign attracts enough customers to its Ocean Potion (also clever), the partnership with Carnival could go well beyond the four-ship test.

But back to the family dermatologist.

During the inevitable waiting period, patients can self-educate. Like by reading at least parts of a sun-protection brochure — by another skin care company — and discovering some valuable information. Seriously.

Given that another doctor told us everybody needs 15 minutes of Vitamin D (sunshine) a day, let's talk about the UV Index. Does anybody not working in dermatology or for skin care companies really know what it means? 

For example, if it's between 0 and 2 (low), you're safe in the sun for an hour, providing you wear sunglasses. Between 3 and 5, you need to wear hats, sunscreen and sunglasses if outside for more than half an hour. At 6 or 7, it's sunburn time and that means skin damage. Between 8 and 10, you can burn quickly so it's time to bring on the protection army to keep from burning quickly. A UV Index of 11 or higher can mean damaged skin and burns in minutes.

What's relative?

Check the Environmental Protection Agency website to see what the index is where you are. And if where you are is on a Caribbean cruise, or when you are, the UV Index is likely to be 9.

That's considered "very high." That means a hat, sunscreen, sunglasses and a shady place to sit.

Ask the family dermatologist.

Sea Princess


14 nights


February 27, 2014 


Brisbane (return): AucklandTaurangaNapierWellingtonAkaroaDunedin


Inside: $1,999


Cost per day: $142


www.princess.co

Cruise Confusion Just Among Friends

We call this confusion. On the weekend, the Seattle Times reported that the environmental group Friends of the Earth, in its second annual report card on the cruise industry, downgraded Princess for “its numerous recent violations of Alaska’s strong water pollution laws.”

Fair enough? Yesterday, the Port of San Francisco 2009 Cruise Ship Environmental Award’s gold-medal winners were announced, citing ships for their “outstanding record in safeguarding the environment and protecting the air and water quality of San Francisco Bay during their port calls.”

Three ships were gold-medal winners. All were Princess ships — the Sapphire, the Sea and the Star. It was the fifth straight year that Princess ships won for demonstrating “the strong environmental commitment of Princess Cruises in the areas of air emission reduction, waste water treatment, and recycling and disposal programs for solid waste.”

It gets better. In Venice, Italy, Princess ships were awarded the Venice Blue Flag for safeguarding that city by reducing air emissions. It was the second straight year that Princess was awarded the flag after four ships — Royal Princess, Ruby Princess, Crown Princess and Grand Princess — stopped at the Italian port last year.

Heard enough? How about the Vessel Speed Reduction Flag, awarded to Princess ships based in Los Angeles for their reduced speeds that also reduce air emissions.

Environmental organizations do much to keep us all in line with our planet, and perhaps that’s especially true with cruise ships, so their impact on all of us should not be minimized. But this we know: Friends of the Earth are not Friends of Princess.

That’s it…we’re done.

C-Day Was January 6th

What happens when five ships all land in the same port on the same day? An armada on the water and population boom on the shores.

It happened on January 6th at Phillipsburg, St. Maarten. In port were the Carnival Dream, the Sea Princess, the Emerald Princess, the Oasis of the Seas and the Celebrity Solstice.
On the shore, Phillipsburg’s population grew by 17,000, or by the size of some entire U.S. towns, such as Middleton, Wisconsin.
We talked to a passenger who had the foresight to pre-order a cab for the day. While there is a practical limit to the size of taxi fleets on small islands, many in the Caribbean get used to seeing that many people land on their shores and, somehow, they get through the 10-hour rush with smiles on their faces and dollars in their pockets.
That’s it, we’re done.

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