A Captain Good, Young and Personable

Over the years we have met — and listened to — many cruise-ship captains as they interact with passengers. Some clearly enjoy it, some clearly don't. Some communicate easily (remember, English is usually not their first language), and some struggle to be understood.

Captain Henrik Loy, most recently at the helm of Royal Caribbean's Explorer of the Seas, gets full marks on both counts. He is engaging, articulate, personable and comfortable. He's also just 37, still young for a position he has held for three years.

In our wide-ranging interview, something he said revealed all you need to know about Captain Henrik's character.

Given that he has been with the company for 16 years, given that almost every employer wants to promote somebody who is both good and young, and given that his ship is being replaced on the New Jersey-to-Bermuda run by the new Quantum of the Seas in 2015, we asked how he felt about the possibility that he could stay in the same home port (Bayonne) on a different ship (Quantum).

Here was his response:

"I never really put my name forward and I haven't really had any preferences. I don't have that desire and I take what is given to me. A ship is a ship. Whatever ship I'm on, I want to be the greatest captain and build the greatest team. Whether it's the oldest or the newest, it's not that important. Maybe it's the Norwegian in me. In Norway, we like to be recognized rather than ask for things. It's still in me. It's still in my culture. I would be very honored to be asked to go on Quantum of the Seas but whether a ship is big or small, it's the people who make it."

Captain Henrik — on cruise ships many captains go by their first names — is originally from Bergen but now lives in England, in the midlands north of London. He met his wife Karina on Liberty of the Seas, where she sang in the ship's production show ("a true love boat story," says her husband), and she is British. With three little ones (4, 2 and 1) and Henrik's 14-year-old son, she gave up her profession at sea for family life.


"She loves to be a stay-at-home mom," he says. "She worked ten years at sea so she knows my job. It's not a big mystery. We spoke a lot about this before we got married. I was very honest from the start. I'm completely committed to this and I don't want to stop. We are really on the same page and we're going to make it work. That's our story."

As a captain, he is away 10 weeks at a time and whenever possible his family is able to join him on board. They spend his 10-week holidays doing everything from hiking in the mountains in the summer to skiing the Alps in winter, and making sure their children are kept in touch with their Norwegian roots. He gets a lot of questions about his occupation…and his youth.

"I joke and tell them it's just an online course that takes a week!"

Being a captain is, of course, much more than that. Being a captain like Henrik Loy is a gift.

His command of English began early; in Norwegian schools everybody studies it. His ability to connect with passengers is something he has come to enjoy.

"In the beginning it was yet another breakthrough…public speaking, being social at cocktail parties, chatting with people," he explains. "Now I really enjoy things like that because I feel I can really make a difference to our passengers, and that's gratifying. I evolved personally by having no fear standing in front of people and giving speeches, not being nervous or dreading it. It doesn't drain my energy to prepare for it. I enjoy it more and more."

As captain of the Explorer, he usually has a unique demographic of passengers. Many are from the New York area and that alone makes them unique.

"I have come to love the demographic," Captain Henrik says. "I feel like I know them…resonate…have great rapport with them. They let you know when they're happy, and they really let you know when they're not happy, but they always look you in the eye and say good morning."

And if they're as pleasant as he is, it's no wonder he likes them.

Celebrity Reflection
15 nights
November 1, 2013
Rome, Tenerife, St. Kitts, St. Maarten, Miami
Inside: $749
Cost per day: $49

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