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Friday File: Smile, You're On Cruise Camera!

Among the many benefits of seeing parts of the world from cruising is the happy people you encounter along the way. In North America, photo subjects are often reluctant to smile for the camera — in some cases, permission is requested or demanded. In many countries outside our continent, the smiles come readily from all walks of life, and often you can see from the pictures if they’re genuine, as they usually are…


Brenda Purcell, who takes tourists on her little tour bus in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands.


In Dominican Republic, a man happy to be making the biggest cigars we’ve ever seen.


It must be the cigars…this man in the basement of Nassau’s Graycliff Hotel.


Margarita, not the drink but a hostess in Santiago’s Veramonte Winery tasting room.


Once he was known as Captain Stubing…now in his 80s, he’s Gavin MacLeod of California.


Owners of a Mom and Pop restaurant in Huatulco, near the Mexico-Guatemala border.

A vendor named Rose in Belize City, happy to pose for shoppers who weren’t shopping.


Nobody we’ve met has a bigger smile or bigger heart than Sandy Cuadrado in Cartagena.

In the news…

• Security concerns cancel Celebrity Reflection's port call at Istanbul
• Carnival Pride going back to Tampa to operate 5-to-14-day cruises
• Canadian Port of Saint John to deepen harbor and extend window for ships

Today at portsandbows.com: Regent Seven Seas world tour big hit

Holland America Eurodam
7 nights
November 15, 2015
Fort Lauderdale (return): Grand Turk, San Juan, Philipsburg, Half Moon Cay
Inside: $519
Cost per day: $74

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

Royal Caribbean — No Gamble Here

Employees in the cruise industry know you can go from the bottom to the top if you play your cards right, and nobody knows that better than Dean Bailey.

He is part of the management team in Royal Caribbean, most recently as hotel director on Explorer of the Seas.

In the beginning, he was a casino dealer.

"It was either blind luck…or I wasn't very lucky at sea," laughs the personable British-born, 20-year cruise veteran. "I tell people I'm really a casino dealer masquerading as a hotel director."

The current CEO of Royal Caribbean, Richard Fain, started as a purser.

"A great message for our employees," says Bailey. "The sky's the limit. From the 20 years I've been with the company, I can see that we rarely lose people."

Like so many who people work on cruise ships, Dean Bailey's story is interesting, perhaps even fascinating. And like so many, he's in a time and a place that as a 20s-something he could never have imagined he'd be.

When he was just six, Dean was told he was destined to be a gambler.

"I used to know every card game," he says. "I never have been a big gambler, but I knew the mathematics…the strategy…and I guess I was that good it was logical to say I'd probably be a professional gambler."

Young and single, he and a buddy were looking for work in the remote parts of the world because "most casino workers like to go traveling" and they wound up with two geographical choices — Eastern Europe or the Bahamas.

"I was thinking that Eastern Europe was cold and I couldn't speak the language…Bahamas, sun and sea and sand…sold to the man in the white suit!" he explains Bailey, who was hired by Royal Caribbean after acing a "table test." in his interview. "The woman who hired me said I had all the skills and then she asked me "Why should I hire you?' And I said: 'Because I love people and I have a great smile!'"

His first was Legend of the Seas. Between that and Explorer of the Seas, his personal armada of ships has taken him from Vladivostok to Vietnam and from New Jersey to New Zealand. When he returns from his 10-week vacation at the end of this month, it will be to Majesty of the Seas, sailing from Miami.

It really wasn't supposed to be that way.

"I was studying mechanical engineering and I only worked in a casino to take time off from engineering," he chuckles. "The same thing happened when I went to work on a ship — it was a time-out from getting on with my career."

His buddy went to Budapest. Ironically, today Dean Bailey lives in Budapest, but that's a story for another day.


Disney Dream
3 nights
August 29, 2013
Port Canaveral (return): Nassau, Castaway Cay
Inside: $735
Cost per day: $245

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