Family Ties to Cruising
"At the Captain's Table" is Cruise Critic's original series of stories penned by Joyce Gleeson-Adamidis. Joyce knows the ins and outs of life onboard -- both as a cruise ship staff member and as the wife of Celebrity Cruises' venerable Captain Adamidis -- and offers a behind-the-scenes perspective on issues facing cruisers and the cruise industry.
Photo is of Simon Weir, member of the famed family of cruise ship entertainers.
Family Ties to Cruising
The cruise industry has seen its fair share of "family ties" -- seafarers sharing their unique occupations and traditions (be it captain or cruise director) with spouses or siblings, or passing them down the family tree to their children. Cunard's Captain Ronald Warwick, who retired recently from his post as captain of Queen Mary 2, was part of a venerable father-son team; his father, Commodore William E. Warwick, commanded Queen Elizabeth 2 when she debuted in 1969.
And when romance blossoms onboard, many couples choose to stay together at sea; I was a social hostess, onboard lecturer, assistant cruise director and cruise director before adding captain's wife to my resume of onboard occupations. I remained at sea, and essentially raised our son on ships.
One of the most intriguing family dynasties currently onboard is the Weir family, a dynasty now represented on Celebrity Cruises' Celebrity Solstice as brothers Simon Weir (pictured above) and Nick Weir handle titles of hotel director and cruise director respectively.
A cruise family I've had the privilege to know, the dynastic reign began with Leonard (Len) Weir, whose name eventually became a benchmark in the profession of cruise director. He got his start singing tenor in church choirs in his native Australia. After wedding his wife Beverly (Bev), both singers left for England on a cargo ship. Len's tenor was excellent enough to move him from engagements at working men's clubs to an audition for composer Alan J. Lerner. Three weeks before London's West End opened with “My Fair Lady,” Len was on stage with Rex Harrison and Julie Andrews, whose understudy was none other than Beverly Weir.
After five years, Len and Bev went back to sea -- not on a cargo ship but the Queen Mary. They created a duo act and appeared onboard Cunard as well as Chandris' Ellinis and Australis for Europe-to-Australia runs (modern cruise travelers will know Chandris as Celebrity). Len generated high revenues for the cruise lines and introduced cruise directors to the dual role of being an entertainer as well as introducing entertainers. Len also organized staff, charmed passengers and officers alike, and reigned supreme over a court at sea. In short, he became a legend while practicing his art.
What Runs in the Blood
Eventually, the Family Weir grew by two: Nick and Simon were seagoing nomads from birth whose mother moved them in sync with the father's cruises. Beverly continued to work onboard jobs until it was time to work at keeping the family together. Nick and Simon were "home" schooled, and having been brought up at sea could recognize ports by sight with speed and accuracy. Neither could profess a loyalty to any particular country and became living cruise brochures.
The boys did eventually disembark, but not for long. Nick attended the University of Miami with a major in Marine Biology, but returned to sea right after college. He had clearly inherited his father's love (and skill) for entertaining, and Nick went off to sail aboard Costa Rivera as the youngest cruise director afloat at age 23. At age 33, he disembarked again and hosted a game show in England, which is still producing royalties; he now lives in Las Vegas and onboard Celebrity's fleet, dividing his time and talent between land and sea.
Simon Weir, meanwhile, studied to become and worked as a chef -- but was all the while learning the overall cruise business. Not to be outdone by his brother, he was a D.J., piano man, light man, sports director and assistant cruise director for the world cruise on Costa's Daphne. Over the years, Simon added to his resume the titles of cruise director and shore excursions director, as well as solo entertainer with another line -- Star Cruises. After another stint at Costa, this one spanning 20 years, he found himself onboard Chandris' Meridian, becoming cruise director of Horizon when Chandris changed names to Celebrity.
After carving out their own careers at sea, engaging in a healthy sibling rivalry as they climbed the ranks, the brothers will be teaming up for their next gig. Simon and Nick made cruise ship and family history when they sailed together on Celebrity Solstice as hotel director and cruise director, respectively.
The Legacy Continues
In the meantime, Simon's wife Anya, also a past crewmember, added to the next generation of Weirs at sea when she their beautiful daughter was born. Perhaps she, too, will one day carry on the rich tradition of working at sea. However, it is always hard to say what your children will do with their lives; whether to make their own history or follow their family ties, they have their own ideas. While Bev and Len had never forced their sons into a life at sea, Simon and Nick were ultimately seamen at heart. As for my own son? I asked him if he would one day like to be a captain as his father, his reply: "No, I don't think so; he works too hard."