The captain of the Majestic Princess and one of the stars of ITV’s The Cruise reveals how he negotiates 32ft waves and why you’d never regret taking a holiday on board his ship
- Italian Dino Sagani describes life on board the 143,000-tonne Majestic Princess
- Here he describes his lavish quarters and its ‘pantry’ and how he drives the ship
- He also explains why the Tasman Sea is particularly dangerous for shipping
Italian Dino Sagani is one of the stars of the new series of The Cruise on ITV
The ITV documentary series that reveals what life is like on board a huge cruise ship is back – and this time the star is the Majestic Princess and its crew.
Italian Dino Sagani, 48, is at the helm and he took time out of his busy schedule on the high seas to reveal to MailOnline Travel what life is like on board the 3,560-guest, 143,000-tonne vessel for him.
He discusses parking difficulties and why people who think cruise ships are ‘floating petri dishes’ should book a holiday on one. And much more…
What’s the biggest wave you’ve ever safely tackled in a cruise ship?
When we were sailing from the Falkland Islands towards Argentina on the original Royal Princess many years ago with a swell averaging 10m (32ft). Of course nowadays with all the different tools we have available, it’s a lot easier to avoid heavy seas.
What’s the storm force limit for Majestic Princess?
Majestic Princess has been specifically designed adhering to new rules in terms of strength and stability which make her the strongest and safest cruise ship I have ever commanded. She can go through a storm without any problems as long as we take the sea from the right direction and adjust the speed of the ship accordingly. Of course we’d prefer to avoid any storms… for our guests and for those very expensive bottles of champagne which aren’t secured down.
Do you have any gadgets on the bridge you particularly love?
On the bridge we have the bell of the ship which I love because it is like the heart of the ship. I like to ring it sometimes and think back to when the old captains like my great grandfather used the bell of the ship to communicate time and orders to their crew and passengers.
Do you actually steer the ship?
Yes in several instances – I drive the ship in and out of port either steering by giving orders to the quartermaster or I steer myself using the ‘mini-wheel’ as I call it, which directly controls our two huge rudders at the stern.
Sagani is the captain of the Majestic Princess, pictured, which has capacity for 3,560 guests
Would you go down with the ship?
It would be very unlikely the ship could suffer such damage that would sink her, but in any case as it is required by maritime law I will certainly be the last to leave the ship.
Describe a typical day on board for you…
Well I find there is no such thing as a typical day on the ship. If we are cruising to a port and the drive-in is very long – like when we have to go up river in Shanghai – I’ll have to drive the ship all night in order to be ready at the berth for the guests to disembark. If we are at sea, it tends to be a normal wake-up call in the morning. After checking the ship’s progress and the latest forecasts I like to walk around the different decks to check how the ship looks and of course to meet some of the guests on board. I always try to walk all the way from the upper guests’ decks down to the engine and laundry room, mainly because the crew love to see the captain in their working areas.
In the afternoon if we are at sea, I will have some function with our guests, such as a welcome or farewell party, or perhaps a special event we host for our loyalty guests. Dinner is usually in my suite unless of course I’m hosting some guests in one of our restaurants. If time allows, I do like to have a least an hour in the gym to take the stress off my shoulders and to keep fit. Being Italian I tend to live by the Latin phrase “mens sana in corpore sano”, which means healthy mind in a healthy body.
Do you have lavish captain’s quarters?
I have a suite with a lovely large balcony so I’m not complaining! The best part is the captain’s pantry where I have a fantastic coffee machine. Useful for those early starts.
Sagani said: ‘Majestic Princess has been specifically designed adhering to new rules in terms of strength and stability which make her the strongest and safest cruise ship I have ever commanded’
How long does it take to train as a captain?
It took me 22 years at sea. I moved up the ranks fast, becoming one of the youngest captains ever to be promoted and that was almost 12 years ago!
Could you describe some of the trickier waters you have to negotiate on Majestic Princess and why they need to be tackled with care?
The crossing of the Tasman Sea between Australia and New Zealand requires great care and attention when navigating the ship because the low pressure can develop and build heavy seas. On my last cruise before getting off the ship in December, I had to go full speed ahead in order to pass in front of a storm which in the end created swells of over 10m (32ft). My plan worked very well and we had a beautiful passage but I had to use up a lot of extra fuel. That said, our priority is always the safety and the comfort of our guests.
Do people shout ‘captain on the bridge!’ when you enter the bridge?
No sadly there is not such an official welcome anymore but when I do get to the bridge and take charge after a formal handover, in that moment the officer will loudly state ‘captain has the charge’.
What are the most challenging aspects to the job?
Driving such a large ship in very small ports is definitely the largest challenge especially when the wind starts to get strong. I have two main propellers and six side propellers (thrusters) to use when I manoeuvre the ship. In some ports it’s kind of like trying to do the most perfect parallel parking in a Ferrari with the end goal the same – not to scratch her!
What are the most rewarding parts of the job?
Almost every cruise I receive a lot of notes from the guests who tell me they’ve had the time of their lives on the ship and cannot wait to be back on board. That’s the most rewarding part of my job and thinking that I can bring happiness to people’s lives is an amazing feeling. I guess I’m lucky to be able to create, share and receive all this positive energy.
Are there so many crew members that some don’t recognise you onboard?
I make the point on every cruise of personally welcoming any new crew members as I think it’s important for them to see me and to welcome them into the “Majestic family”.
Sagani is pictured here being filmed for The Cruise
Do you have any funny filming anecdotes from The Cruise?
I had a lot of fun filming The Cruise. I loved pulling the leg of the camera crew that were following me around every day. When one of the young lads was filming me in the gym I told him at his age he should be exercising. So that evening he went to the gym for a workout. The next day he’d obviously gone very heavy in the gym the night before because he was in so much pain that he was struggling to hold the camera, even just for a little bit. I guess lifting weights is not the same as lifting a heavy camera…
Some people dismiss cruise ships as ‘floating petri dishes’ – how would you persuade them to try it?
The one reoccurring phrase I get from passengers who have never cruised before is that they regret they didn’t try it sooner. Across our fleet we offer a premium service at sea that would rival most luxury hotels and restaurants ashore, and at a competitive price. Previously, if guests went to a particular place for a holiday and they were disappointed, then they’d still have to spend the remainder of their holiday in the same place. However on a cruise ship we travel to several destinations, so after exploring all day guests can come back on board, relax in their comfortable floating hotel room and get excited about waking up in a new place.
Captain Sagani can be seen on ITV’s The Cruise on Thursdays at 8.30pm.
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