This Captain a 'Man' of the Seas

Upon reflection, Henrik Loy knows he was born to be at sea. In the 34 years between that day and the one when he became one of the youngest cruise ship captains in history — with Royal Caribbean — every step of his journey re-affirmed that belief.

Captain Loy was conscious of his place in the world at an early age, in his hometown of Bergen, Norway.

"Bergen is a busy cruise port, and you could see and smell the ocean from our house," he explains. "I was always going into town in the summer and watching ships come and go. It was always a part of me."

When he was five, one of the ships that came to Bergen was the SS Norway. On cruise ships, there's rarely a Norwegian who doesn't have a remembrance, and a feeling, for this grand old ship.

"This was before the security restrictions so we were able to go on board," Loy says. "It took an eternity to walk from one end to the other and, for me, it was a spark that came alive quite early. We had relatives who lived up the fjords and we had to travel there by boat. It was so beautiful and I could stand out on deck all day, all the time."

By the time he was 17, Henrik Loy had made a career decision. At 18, during his final year of high school, he concurrently studied at Bergen Maritime School while others his age had evenings, weekends and holidays for fun adventures. At 19, he graduated from maritime school when most aspiring seafarers would be halfway there. At 20, he served his mandatory year of military, with the Coast Guard.

"I couldn't wait," he says. "After being with the Coast Guard, then I really knew it was in my blood. I spent another two years at maritime college and there was a lot of studying, a lot of sacrifice, but I was just so passionate I wanted to learn it all. I was intrigued. I just enjoyed it. I never felt like it was hard, hideous work, so I didn't struggle. I scored very high."

Armed with his Master Mariner degree, he was ready, but Royal Caribbean didn't exactly come calling. What followed was something of a fluke.

In de-briefing from the intense final exam with a classmate, Loy was preparing to take the summer off and apply somewhere — he knew not where — in the fall. On the day of the last exam, his classmate asked if Henrik had applied at Royal Caribbean. He said no. Well, said his friend, everyone has applied there so do it…right now.

So Henrik Loy called the same number his friend had called. A hiring agent in Oslo, Ola Morken, answered. After the applicant explained who he was, what his credentials were and that he was ready to work, what Morken said went something like this:

"Thank goodness! We need a man right now and I just opened my drawer and was staring at a huge pile of applications, which I was dreading to go through. Why don't you catch a train and come here tomorrow?"

Loy did. He was hired on the spot and began a five-month contract on the then-new Enchantment of the Seas.

"I was flying," he said. "At 10:30 that morning, I met my sister for a beer. I would never drink a beer at 10:30. But I believe in coincidences like that. I instantly get a feeling I am on the right path. To me, those are signals. I didn't even have an application but it was meant to be. It landed in my lap."

The coincidences weren't over yet.

When his five months ended on Enchantment, Loy went home to wait for his next assignment. Nobody called. Finally, coincidentally, he called Royal Caribbean's agent.

"I'm still here," he said. "Do you have anything for me?"

The response was: "Didn't you know? We have a flight for you this afternoon and you will join Monarch of the Seas in Barbados tomorrow."

These days, having been on eight ships "of the Seas" Captain Henrik can laugh about that mini panic attack.

"Somehow," he says, "that message never reached me."

Because it did, he has now spent 16 years with Royal Caribbean. In 2010, he was first commissioned as a captain at the age of 34, and among Royal Caribbean captains only Patrick Dahlgren became a captain at an earlier age. This year, Captain Loy completed a contract on Explorer of the Seas.

One day…QuantumAllureOasis?

More on that, and a personal look at this most personable Norwegian, tomorrow.

Holland America Veendam
7 nights
September 7, 2013
BostonBar HarborHalifaxSydneyCharlottetownQuebec City
Inside: $529
Cost per day: $75

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4 Responses
  1. Barbara says:

    What happened to Capt Loy? Haven’t seen him on Explorer of the Seas lately?

  2. Bob & Nancy says:

    Captains move to different ships all the time, and usually work 10 weeks on and 10 off. The cruise lines don’t make this information public, naturally, so finding out which captain is on which ship at any given time can be hit-and-miss.

  3. Tom D says:

    I just returned from a cruise aboard the Independence of the Seas, and Henrik Loy was the captain.

  4. Marcus says:

    We met Captain Loy in 2016 on Ovation of the Seas Inaugural Season. He Leaded the Vessel very well.

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