Captain Vittorio Marchi has worked for Carnival Cruise Line for 30 years and as a captain for the past decade. We asked him why he loves his job and got his tips for the best itineraries, his favourite ports and the tastiest meals served onboard Carnival Spirit.
Q. What's it like to be the captain of one of Australia's most popular ships?
A. I'm honoured to be the captain of Carnival Spirit and I love Sydney, Australia, the clientele and the various itineraries we sail. The Spirit team is the friendliest of the seven seas and I'm delighted to be part of it.
Q. What is the best thing about Australian passengers?
A. Australian passengers are very friendly and welcoming; it's nice to go around the ship and have a chat with them.
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Q. You appeared briefly on the popular My Kitchen Rules TV show where you tasted food made by the contestants. Did you get recognised after this?
A. Yes, indeed, for a period some of the guests recognised me and got very excited.
Q. You take a lot of photos. What's the most Instagram-friendly island you've visited?
A. All places are Insta-friendly! I have to recognise that Isle of Pines (New Caledonia) and Mystery Island (Vanuatu) are a notch above.
Q. How does social media inform your role as captain of the ship?
A. There is the belief that working on a cruise ship is a permanent holiday, which is not the case. We all work hard to consistently deliver fun, memorable holidays.
Q. What's the trickiest port to park the ship in and why?
A. Roatan in Honduras. This is due to the configuration of the port and the wind current direction.
Q. What inspired you to become a captain?
A. I come from a seaside village in Italy, Camogli, in the Italian Riviera. We have one of the oldest nautical schools in the country. I attended it and graduated and soon after joined the navy for mandatory military service. Once that was done, I applied for several different shipping companies; the first one that called me was Carnival. I started to give it a try and I'm still here 30 years later!
Q. What does it take to lead a team on a ship where you are responsible for the lives of more than 2,600 passengers and 1,000 crew?
A. It takes passion, dedication, knowledge, continuous training and positive leadership.
Q. You've been leading cruises for a six-month stint. It's your first day off. What do you do?
A. Can't wait to be home to see my family and relax.
Q. Which cruise would you recommend for honeymooners?
A. I definitely recommend one that stops by the Polynesian Islands.
Q. Which cruise would you recommend for families?
A. New Caledonia and Mystery Island are definitely destinations where families can enjoy their time. They have nice sandy beaches, snorkelling and opportunities to discover the sea life in pristine waters.
Q. Which route would you recommend for groups of friends?
A. A short and fun cruise to enjoy the ship while dancing the night away.
Q. What's your favourite restaurant onboard and indeed your desert island dish?
A. Bonsai Sushi, even though all our restaurants are delicious. As for my deserted island dish, I would say the rum cake from Grand Cayman.
Q. Is there a giant steering wheel? Or is everything done by autopilot?
A. The era of the giant steering wheel is long gone. We still have a steering wheel butnowadays it's smaller than a car's and yes, we still use it when sailing.