Would you switch cruise lines to follow a crewmember? Wit and charisma go a long way in the cruise industry and many cruise ship captains achieve near-celebrity status.
When Captain Dag Dvergastein left Regent Seven Seas Cruises and moved to Seabourn in 2010, for example, he took with him a loyal following of guests who enjoyed the fun and camaraderie of his cruises; he once famously diverted his ship up a remote Norwegian fjord and entertained the passengers in his own garden.
Meanwhile, Cunard’s first female captain, Inger Thorhauge, has built up a loyal following over her three years as Master of Queen Victoria. “Cunard has so many loyal guests and some of them do get very much attached to captains,” she told Cruise Critic. “So people will cruise when they know I am on board, which is very nice. Guests come to see me at receptions and bring clippings from newspapers that they want me to sign, which is a surprise, as I am a very private person.”
Captains have become a selling point for their cruise lines, to the extent that they’ve become part of the overall ‘package’ of a cruise. Fred. Olsen, for example, puts little biographies of all its captains on its website, while Saga goes even further and publishes the sailing schedules of each captain.
It’s not just captains who attract a loyal fan base; a good cruise director can also engender a cult following. Saga recently lost one of its most popular cruise directors, Neil Horrocks, who has jumped ship for cultural specialist Voyages to Antiquity. He had developed a fan base on Spirit of Adventure and later, Saga Pearl II, for his gentle eccentricity and sharp wit, often bringing on local British diplomats in obscure ports to greet guests, or arranging spontaneous talks on board.
“Although I have not made my transfer public knowledge until today, I have been amazed at how the grapevine works,” he told Cruise Critic. “Cruising is clearly a very well-connected world as many passengers I’ve previously sailed with have heard that I’ve transferred and some have already booked cruises with me later this year.”
Similarly, John Heald, Carnival’s famous blogging cruise director, has become such a celebrity in his own right (not least for his self-deprecating and often bawdy humour) that not only do people book cruises around his schedule, but he actually becomes the ‘theme’ of the cruise. The seventh annual ‘John Heald Bloggers’ Cruise’ departs next month, packed with fans and followers of Heald’s blog.
Have you ever booked a cruise purely because of who’s on board? Maybe you’ve followed a maître d’, or even a favorite cabin attendant. Let us know!