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The Queen, Olympics and…Breakaway?

The Norwegian Breakaway arrives in Bermuda today, its first port on its first cruise, and we're hoping Richard Janicki is on the ship.

Who's Richard Janicki?

He is a Norwegian employee, a hotel director, whom we happened to meet when we were last on the Epic. He's an interesting guy and — here's the reason we hope he's on the Breakaway as expected — he has paid his dues.


As a boy in France, he wanted to work in a hotel. He did, and cooked twice for Queen Elizabeth II…the woman, not the ship. His surname sounds as French as Wilson or Smith or Jones and he lives in his "paradise" — Greece. He has worked, as a volunteer, at seven Olympic Games.

Is that interesting enough?

"Usually, the boys, they want to be a firemen, you know," says Janicki, who was scheduled to work on the Breakaway's inaugural cruise this week. "I always wanted to work in the hotel industry when I was a kid…cooking and all that. You are quite fortunate when you are young and you know want you want to do."

Fortunate, later, to work at the Berkeley Hotel in London.

"I was a chef there," he says. "I cooked for the Queen of England twice. I make one dish for her…lobster salad. She just came for dinner. She was on a night out with her husband, that's all it was. Not formal. She was out on a date. The second time, the hotel was celebrating its 21st birthday and when you reach 21 years of age in England, it's a big deal. We brought in chefs from around the world during the year and on that week it was Chef Miko Lee from Tokyo and since he spoke more French than English, I was assigned to work with him the entire week, and she came the second time to eat from the menu of Chef Miko Lee."

Working at the Berkeley was one circumstance that would shape Janicki's career. The Olympics was another, beginning in Albertville, with the Winter Games of 1992.

"They were looking for volunteers and I applied," says Janicki, who has worked on cruise ships for 17 years, the last 13 with Norwegian.  "My sister and my brother were in Lens, and they volunteered. At the Olympics, I worked for a group that catered to VIPs, in hospitality. You learn a lot of things there. Cooking was my major but I worked in dining rooms and bars, a lot of logistics…accounting, because you need to learn about these things. You never know if you're going to work on a cruise ship one day or if you're going to own your own restaurant, so you need to be a good accountant, too."

After Albertville, there were Summer Games in Barcelona (1992), Atlanta (1996) and Athens (2004), and Winter Games in Lillehammer (1994), Nagano (1998) and Torino (2006). Some of those experiences surface on cruise ships today.

He elaborates this way:

"Sometimes I explain to the crew when things have to happen right now…it's like a 100-meter race. They have billions of people watching on TV, and more in the stadium, and the race is going to happen right now. So the guy with the gun who starts the race, the gun has to work. And the guy with the chrono, the chrono has to work because it takes less than 10 seconds, and you don't have a re-take, like a movie.

"When guests come on the cruise, they save money all their life to buy a cruise for their anniversary or they're honeymooners, and it's their first time cruising. It's irrelevant how good we were the cruise before, or how good we're going to be for the cruise the next week. We have to be good for them right now, because that's their time — right now. And people will judge you on that because it's their cruise right now. You cannot spoil that and say, 'Well, sorry, we'll do better next time.'"

This week, that means the Breakaway's inaugural guests.

Holland America Zaandam
7 nights
June 2, 2013
Anchorage, Glacier Bay, Haines, Juneau, Ketchikan, Vancouver
Inside: $299
Cost per day: $42

Olympics, Cruise Ships Messengers

   Photo credit: Matt Deegan

As we were watching the Opening Ceremonies of the Olympic Games from London the other day, watching athletes mingle in the human melting pot in the center of the stadium, once again it was obvious what's good about the Olympics.

Medals aside, the Games bring the world together. People from different countries, and different cultures, get to know each other. Maybe they become tweet pals. At the very least, they find out for all their differences there are so many similarities…everywhere. The Olympics help to bridge the differences.

So do cruise ships.


Last week, the Queen ElizabethCunard's newest cruise ship — made a port stop in Kiel, Germany. Now, granted it was a long time ago, but it was the Germans who in one world war bombed the London where right now their athletes compete…and who were the instigators of another world war. Regardless of who was on which side, there were reasons for deep-rooted hatred.

So when this big new ship sailed into the Kiel Fjord, guess what the German people did? They lined the shores and gave it a standing ovation. They fired water fountains and not bullets, and their firefighters were escorts and not first responders. And all that was before the people on board disembarked to mingle with the people of Kiel.

While much less dramatic, this is what happens whenever a cruise ships visit a foreign port. The passengers mingle with the locals. They get to know each other, to learn from each other, to dissipate any real or imagined differences. Maybe it doesn't happen all the time, but it happens lots of times.

Just like in the Olympics.

Carnival Valor
6 nights
September 9, 2012
Miami (return): Key West, Grand Cayman, Montego Bay
Inside: $349
Cost per day: $58

Olympics of the Sea on Oasis


When the Olympic Games open tomorrow, there will be advertising connected to the Games — advertisers pay big bucks for that — and there will be what could be called "Off Olympics" advertising. These are advertisers who are linked by association, and benefit accordingly. The linkage is informal and unofficial — that usually means they pay nothing for Olympic linkage.

You have to give Royal Caribbean high marks for its Off Olympics campaign.

Number one, it's going to be humorous. Number two, it has name value. Number three, it's clever.

The ads will start running tomorrow…coincidentally, the day of the Opening Ceremonies in London. They'll be on stations owned and/or operated by NBC, the official Olympic broadcaster, so maybe Royal Caribbean has to loosen a few purse strings for this campaign. Two former Olympians are involved, ex-figure skater Michelle Kwan and ex-diver Greg Louganis. In the campaign, they will be competing on the Oasis of the Seas. Their event?

The deck-athlon.

While neither has been a decathlete, they will face off in 10 events ranging from wall climbing to decorating cupcakes. Two of the events are the ones that made them famous — figure skating and diving. Presumably one of them will win a Royal deck-athlon medal. The other six events are the flow rider, mini golf, zip line, table tennis, basketball and…wait for it…casino.

How the Olympics have changed!

Royal Caribbean Oasis of the Seas
7 nights
November 10, 2012
Fort Lauderdale (return): Labadee, Falmouth, Cozumel
Inside: $799
Cost per day: $114

Celebrity Cruises and the Olympic Way


News item:

It's estimated that more than one-billion people will tune in for this year's Olympic Games in the host city of London, and Celebrity Cruises has arranged the rare opportunity for guests sailing on its modern luxury fleet to be among them.

Question: Does Jacques Rogge know about this?

Monsieur Rogge is the head of the International Olympic Committee, which stages the Games every two years and which is the protector of all things Olympic. The Olympic brand is sacred and must not be used to advertise "product" for "profit" without paying homage (also dollars) to the IOC.

This is the organization which took to the courts against a decades-old family business called Olympia Pizza. The IOC also warned news media at the last Summer Olympics about using the hallowed word in directing readers to a page of the online version of a newspaper "for more Olympic coverage."

We produced and wrote the official souvenir program for one Olympics and had to be cautious about calling it the Olympic Winter Games and not the Winter Olympic Games. Olympic must always come first, especially when it involves trademark revenue.

It's not a stretch to say that Celebrity will generate revenue by advertising Olympic coverage (sorry) for its passengers, "live" from London this summer. Seven sports and both opening and closing ceremonies will be live on all 10 Celebrity ships, and repeated on ships in the Caribbean, Alaska and Bermuda, because of the time change.

So it is safe to assume that Monsieur Rogge and the IOC know all about Celebrity's coverage and that somehow, either directly or through the satellite TV carrier, compensation is being made.

If a pizza restaurant is big enough to be fair game for copyright infringement, imagine what a target a cruise line is.

Norwegian Epic
7 nights
May 20, 2012
Barcelona (return): Naples, Rome, Florence, Cannes, Marseille
Inside:  $569
Cost per day: $81

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