Interview with Royal Caribbean’s first Asian captain

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Hailing from China’s harbour city of Qingdao, Captain Wu Huimin is Royal Caribbean’s first Asian captain.

He joined the cruise liner in 2014, and was announced as Captain in October 2018. Newly appointed to helm Voyager of the Seas, ASEAN Cruise News gets to know Captain Wu on board the ship.

Tell us what led you to become a ship captain?

No one in my family has seafaring experience, but I finished high school and found myself enrolling in a maritime university. I didn’t know anything about sailing!

Then, I worked in a shipping company for 5 years, and subsequently found job openings in cruise lines. I became a third officer in 2000.

How does it feel to be Royal Caribbean’s first and only Asian captain?

It’s an honour. I really appreciate the company recognising my efforts and giving me the opportunity to be the first Asian captain. I’ve also enjoyed working with so many people from all walks of life and nations.

You started helming Voyager of the Seas in November 2018. What has the experience been like?

I was a deputy captain for 6.5 years before taking command of this ship. I definitely felt the added responsibility upon becoming captain. The safety and well-being of 5,200 people are resting on your shoulders! You are also the leader of 1,200 crew members.

How did Voyager of the Seas celebrate last month’s Chinese New Year?

We’ve decorated the ship and tailored the onboard programme for the Chinese demographic.

It was a different experience compared to spending CNY at home. You don’t need to cook − just enjoy the food! We’ve also planned lots of activities and will broadcast programs for mainland Chinese guests. There’s also a New Year’s Eve countdown on the Royal Promenade, which my senior officers and I attended.

How do you celebrate CNY and cope with being away from home for extended periods?

My family joined me on board for CNY, I’m very happy about that! I’ve been sailing for 24 years − you do start missing home and family members. But work is work, so I stay focused on delivering a good experience for guests.

Being from China, how do you think cruising has developed there?

Business is currently booming there, as compared to the first couple of years where we were educating the market. Of course, we always have to adapt. For example, altering our product in terms of food, activities and check-in/check-out processes.

What are your favourite cruise destinations?

Hong Kong is one of my favourite ports. Victoria Bay is beautiful. And Sydney as well. Coming in to the harbour early in the morning, you have the bridge in front of you and the Opera House on the left. It’s fantastic!

Lastly, any memorable cruising experiences?

On Quantum in 2018, we were sailing out of Nagasaki and made a detour at the request of guests to visit Battleship Island (where they filmed the James Bond movie Skyfall). We stationed ourselves in front of a cliff, and gave the guests a fantastic view.