Tag-Archive for » Captain Frank Juliussen «

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


An Epic Journey Ending In Caribbean

Barnacled and bruised, and beleaguered since birth, the Norwegian Epic is riding off into the sunset next spring. Perhaps the sun will be kinder to the big ship in Barcelona because, on this side of the ocean, the sun appears to have done melanoma-like damage.

EpicAmong the critics, that is.

The Epic arrived in New York in the summer of 2010. Despite her size (4,100 passengers minimum and close to 6,000 maximum), she was never the biggest. She was never the prettiest, sometimes derisively described as the ship with a box-top hat. She was never duplicated and when the idea of a potential sibling was aborted before Norwegian spent any more on the plan it only added to her unpopularity.

Yet we loved the Epic.

We were fortunate enough to cruise on her twice. She was the biggest “freestyle” ship anywhere, and that helped. She introduced Blue Man Group to the seas, and that was better than we anticipated. With a somewhat unorthodox traffic flow, there were pre-launch predictions of line-ups everywhere, but they never materialized. Only on the Epic was serious attention paid to accommodation for singles, and that made her a trend-setter.

Maybe it was because her first master, Trygve Vorren, was as nice a captain as we’ve ever met after being told he wouldn’t be, and because we had a chance to know him a little, not many months before he boarded the big cruise ship in the sky. And that his successor, Slam AllenFrank Juliussen, was just as warm, as honest and as entertaining…two years later. Maybe it was because Slam Allen blew us away with his performances at Fat Cats Jazz & Blues Club on the Epic, even though we’re not huge fans of fat cats, jazz or blues.

The disaster in the cabins — sort-of see-through bathroom doors — was so much a non-starter with passengers that two years ago (when she was a two-year-old) readers of Travel Weekly picked the Epic as the “best overall individual cruise ship” for the third year in a row, and that same year Porthole Magazine named her the “Best Mega Ship.”  She has also been decorated for her entertainment, new restaurants, gambling venue and family appeal.

In what has to be an unusual marketing ploy, Norwegian is promoting her final Caribbean cruises as the Epic’s “Farewell Tour in the Caribbean” when her cruising days there end next April. Judging by the ship’s passenger popularity, it’s probably a certainty to sell out.

Why is the Epic leaving?

Norwegian has launched two ships (Breakaway and Getaway) since the Epic and two more (Escape and Bliss) are coming. The place to start new ships is always in the Caribbean, the world’s cruising hotspot, and there is a limit to a cruise line’s capacity. So it is time for the Epic to move on, perhaps to calmer waters.

It’ll be interesting to see how Europeans take to her. Undoubtedly, the Epic will undergo some changes to cater to Europe’s tastes and culture. They’ll have her for three years, minimum, and probably longer. However, if she’s not welcome, there’s a lot of us who would take her back.


Today at portsandbows.com: The latest in cruise news

Carnival Sensation
4 nights
November 16, 2014
Port Canaveral (return): Freeport, Nassau
Inside: $119
Cost per day: $29

Captain Frank's Tales of the Sea

When Frank Juliussen first joined Norwegian Cruise Line, he was the first officer on a ship called the Southward and his captain was a fellow countryman from Norway, Trygve Vorren. A few years later, they were together again on the Norwegian Sun and in 2011, they were to be co-captains of the Norwegian Epic, flagship of the fleet.

And then Captain Vorren died.

"Suddenly, Trygve was sick and I had to come here a little bit early," says Captain Juliussen. "He was in the hospital when I came to fill in for him."

Like everyone else, cruise ship captains have to deal with life's sad times, as do the passengers who meet them. Trygve Vorren's passing made us sad, too, because on our first Epic cruise we'd been lucky enough to spend some time with him. Frank Juliussen was his replacement on the Epic…and on our second Epic cruise, in conversation with us.

We had been looking forward to meeting him, and he more than lived up to our expectations. He was passionate. He was interesting. He was generous with his time. And he was funny.

Before he worked on cruise ships, Captain Juliussen worked on cargo ships and here's how he explains the change:

"This is the difference between regular cargo ships to cruise ships." he says. "On cargo ships you have optimum freedom. You are a sailor. You only have colleagues around you. On cruise ships, the cargo is people, and you need to talk to the cargo. Yeah, you were talking to the cargo on cargo ships, too, but it didn't argue back so you could be your own person."

His transition was in two stages, starting with a Norwegian ship called the Southward. 

"I was so annoyed about the cruise industry that I simply said this is not for me, so I left. The reason I left was I was not allowed to have a bad day. You had to go around and be happy and smile, and coming from a cargo ship that was a big change.

He worked on ships owned by Exxon, before the Exxon Valdez environmental disaster in Alaska prompted the oil company to sell its fleet. When Juliussen returned, it was to the Southward for a second contract.

"It was only a contract for four months so I thought: 'I can do this,'" he says. "But after that I stayed. I learned to smile. 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. What you learn is the same thing as what you learn on shore — there is a few people who disturb the ways for so many."

On the way to the Epic, he served his captain's apprenticeship on the Dreamward, the Windward, the Leeward, the Seaward and the Westward — all Norwegian ships.

"We took away the 'ward,'" he says, noting that many of them became, as an example, the Norwegian Dream.

Along the way, he twice worked on the Norway, but that's another story that will be told here on another day, because as ships go this one was unique and special…and it deserves special treatment.

In more than two decades of being a captain, Juliussen has introduced new Norwegian ships like the Sun and the Gem and — like most cruise captains — he spends eight months a year living out of his ship's quarters. Back home in Orendahl, Norway ("It's close to nothing") are his wife and two daughters, who arrived just before he signed on with Norwegian and who are now both in university. One is studying to be a marine biologist; the other is studying psychology.

"I think she wanted to be a psychologist to try to understand me, and I told her she can just give up, because it won't work!" he chuckles.

Juliussen's philosophy about being a captain may not be unique but it is crystal clear:

"I have worked from the bottom. I have started from the lowest where you can start. So when I walk my rounds here, I walk with the pot washers, the garbage people, the meat processors…they are the ones doing what other people call the dirty work. For sure, you should give them a tap on the shoulder because the people behind the scenes, the ones you never see, are working their butts off. The least we can do is show them some appreciation for what they do to make us shine. They are the ones who make us shine."

Captains from Norway do, too. Like Trygve Vorren and Frank Juliussen.

Carnival Dream
7 nights
September 28, 2013
Fort Lauderdale (return): Cozumel, Roatan, Belize, Costa Maya
Inside: $409
Cost per day: $58



Seasick: Epic Captain Cured Early


He's been at sea for more than 30 years. The woman he married almost that long ago has been at his side ever since he carried her…not across the threshold, but off the deck. Today, he is the captain of one of the world's biggest cruise ships.

And it all began with being seasick.

His name is Frank Juliussen. He's one of the two captains of the Norwegian Epic. He comes from the fishing islands called Lofoten, in the north of Norway, and as a teenager he decided that he didn't want to fish. The option was to go to sea.

"My Dad had a fishing boat," he recalls, sitting one day on the bridge of the Epic. "He didn't allow me to go with him. He sent me out with a friend and told me to make my own money. The first season you have to do the cooking. I was 15 years old. I was used to the sea but not in bad weather so the first 14 days I was throwing up every day…and I had to do the cooking at the same time. So after 14 days the skipper came and he told me: 'Frank, I think you should consider going ashore.'"

But young Juliussen was either too determined or too afraid to return to his father as a failure.

"Please," he remembers saying to the skipper, "give me another chance."

The story of curing his seasickness is "too nasty" to print, but he tells it anyway. We'll reduce the graphic elements.

"What can I do to get rid of this?" he asked.

The skipper had one cure.

"Because he had seen me, he knew it was psychological for me. In the morning when he started the engine I had to go on deck and throw up. All it took was hearing the engine started. He gave me a cup and told me to go up in the shelter, where we bait the long lines."

Said his skipper: "You go there and take your time."

Juliussen's instructions were, well, a little tough to stomach. So he didn't. He couldn't. He returned to the deck and told the skipper.

"He told me to finish out the day at least. He knew. The seasickness was gone. I don't know if it was a psychological connection but it was gone, and I haven't had it since. But nobody wants to hear that story."

Life on a fishing boat was rough, and often in rough waters. He did it for eight years. He'd heard all about the sailor-man stories and their romances, and he found none of it. Until one day a telegraph trainee — "what we called a telegraphist baby" — followed him up the ramp behind a roll-on, roll-off vessel where he was doing some maintenance.

"She didn't dare go down, because it was too steep," he laughs, "so I had to carry her down on my shoulders."

Her name is Tove and soon after that she became his wife.

Before their children came along, Juliussen left fishing and went to carpenter's school because he wanted to be on land.

"We lived very close to the sea and every morning I heard boats coming in and I went down to the pier to look at them," he says. "She asked me if I wanted to sail again and I said yes. That was it."

With two small daughters at home, he went to captain's school. On his application, nobody asked about seasickness.

Tomorrow: Captain Juliussen's climb to the top of the Epic.

Royal Caribbean Grandeur of the Seas
7 nights
July 12, 2013
Baltimore (return): King's Wharf
Inside: $899
Cost per day: $128


Norwegian Captains a Special Group

We've never met Hakan Svedung. Nor Evans Hoyt. But we hope to meet them. A lot of people who cruise clearly have, since together these two captains have spent 65 years at sea.

Their next assignment(s) is the Norwegian Breakaway. They'll be co-captains of Norwegian's newest ship when it leaves New York Harbor next month on a series of inaugural cruises. At the helm will be Capt. Svedung (left), who will be relieved by Capt. Hoyt (right) when it's time for a vacation.

If you've been reading this blog for a while, you probably know that we have a soft spot for Norwegian captains. It has been our good fortune to meet several of them…good fortune because we've enjoyed talking to all of them of their experiences at sea and their lives on land, both of which they've been willing to have us share with you.

Among them was one of the original captains of Norwegian's last new ship (the Epic), the late Trygve Vorren, from Norway, and Roger Gustavsen, a Norwegian who's climbing the captains' ladder — might the Getaway be next for him? A couple of months ago, we spent time with one of the Epic's current captains, Frank Juliussen, who's also from Norway and who will be featured in this space later this month.

He was not a candidate for the Breakaway, by choice.

"I don't want more new ships," he said. "I just want to be here on the Epic. The young boys can take it now."

Captain Svedung is from Sweden. He has been with Norwegian for almost seven years and before that with a company shareholder, Star Cruises. Captain Hoyt is from America, a Moroccan-born son of a U.S. diplomat and a graduate of the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy.

Says their boss, CEO Kevin Sheehan:

“We carefully chose these seasoned veterans [because they] have a proven track record as successful leaders in our operations team and possess the dedication and passion that will make the Breakaway our most successful new ship launch.”

Sounds like your typical Norwegian captain to us.

Windstar Wind Surf
7 nights
May 28, 2013
Nice, Monte Carlo, Calvi, Cannes, Portofino, Portovenere, Portoferraio, Rome
Oceanview: $2,799
Cost per day: $399

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