It's World Maritime Day on September 26 and Australian company Coral Expeditions is a great example of cruise lines honouring this year's theme, Empowering Women in the Maritime Community.
Coral Expeditions has a near 50/50 balance of men and women on board its four ships and Verity Rowland is one woman who has made her mark in the business. She is the Second Officer on board the 120-passenger Coral Adventurer, learning under the guidance of Captains Craig Argent and Jacopo "JB" Barchetti, having joined Coral Expeditions in 2011 as a cruise attendant.
"Within the first 12 months of joining Coral Expeditions, I gained my coxswain certificate and was offered the opportunity to join the deck team on board Coral Expeditions II," Rowland says. "From that point on I have strived to gain as much experience in all aspects of the multi-faceted roles on board all our vessels. I have worked my way from maritime trainee to general purpose hand/deck rating to mate and second officer aboard Coral Discoverer and now Coral Adventurer."
Throughout her eight years with Coral Expeditions, she has worked with many captains, deck officers and crew. "They have all taught me something that helps me to be the best at my role. Most recently, Captain Craig and JB have taught me the new skill of how to drive an azipull vessel."
Rowland's advice for women interested in entering the maritime industry: "There are many skills required to be a good seafarer – however, it pays to be tenacious in pursuing your goals." See coralexpeditions.com
SONGS IN THE SOUTH
For a musical experience that's really out of this world, you're invited to join renowned singer-songwriter Paul Kelly on board Chimu Adventures' 21-day Antarctic expedition in March 2021. Chimu has hosted artists and writers in Antarctica and the company's co-founder Greg Carter says, "Paul shares many of our concerns about the environment and climate change. We think his extraordinary storytelling abilities through music and verse will add an incredible dimension to this departure." The 200-passenger Ocean Endeavour will sail to Antarctica, South Georgia and the Falkland Islands from Ushuaia, Argentina. See chimuadventures.com
Past passengers sailing on MSC Cruises' newest ship, MSC Bellissima, will recognise the line's signature sparkling Swarovski staircase in the atrium, but the ship also features the line's first crystal cabin. The sparkling stateroom is in the MSC Yacht Club, the private ship within a ship complex, and its furniture and fittings are embellished with 700,000 crystals. Even the number on the door – 16018 – is done out in crystals. MSC Bellissima is cruising the Med until November, when it will move to the Arabian Peninsula until March. See msccruises.com.au
INSIDE DOWNTON ABBEY
Viking Cruises has a long association with Highclere Castle, the real-life star of the TV series Downton Abbey, where it offers insider tours. To celebrate the launch of the movie version, Viking has announced a new five-day pre/post cruise extension, Great Homes, Gardens & Gin, which has been designed to give guests an exclusive look at several country estates that have served as the settings of acclaimed TV productions. Starting in 2021, the program includes Privileged Access tours of Highclere, Broughton Castle, Chavenage House (of Poldark fame) and the gardens of Prince Charles' Highgrove House. See vikingcruises.com.au
What is the name of the longest river in Europe? It flows through the world's biggest country. Last week's answer: 14
Space in cruise-ship bathrooms is usually at a premium, so make the most of it with a toiletry bag you can hang from a hook. Sea to Summit's models are ultra-lightweight, very sturdy and have mesh pockets so you can see what you've packed where at a glance. It comes in small (three litres) and large (six litres), in black or blue (pictured). RRP $34.95, $39.95. See travelgear.com.au
JAN AND JOHN PORTER, WARRIEWOOD, NSW
NUMBER OF CRUISES TAKEN 15
LAST CRUISE From Bergen, chasing the Northern Lights on Viking Sky. Highlights included the Flam Railway and picturesque Norwegian coastal towns – but no Northern Lights. The most memorable part of the trip was the helicopter rescue from Viking Sky after the engines shut down off Norway in a gale. The ship's officers and crew handled the emergency really well and the local people and Norwegian Red Cross and Civil Defence were incredibly welcoming and effective. Viking was also very supportive during and after the event.
NEXT CRUISE With Viking for the fall colours, from Montreal to New York, Bermuda and the Caribbean. Quebec City will be a highlight, as will Boston and stage shows on Broadway.
DREAM SHIP We prefer smaller and mid-size ships such as Holland America Line's MS Prinsendam and the Viking fleet for the more intimate atmosphere and access to smaller ports. Viking's inclusive fare and absence of casinos, photographers and art auctions are very appealing.
DREAM CRUISE The Baltic Sea offers so much in culture, scenery and history in a very compact area and Scandinavian ports are a real bonus. A transit through the Kiel Canal is an experience.
DREAM PORT St Petersburg – the magnificence of The Hermitage; so much heritage, history, scenery, art and culture. Even a journey in the underground is a cultural experience. The challenge is to make a Russian smile!
BEST CRUISE TIP A balcony cabin is fantastic in warmer climates but of limited use in cold climates.
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