With a 35-knot wind and strong Hudson River current, Captain Ubaldo Armellino was in control of a full bridge team docking the Seven Seas Navigator at Pier 88 in Manhattan on an October Monday with two tugboats on standby.
“I treat every maneuver as if it was my first. All ports and situations should be seen as challenging,” he told Cruise Industry News. “As a captain, you need to respect the ship and the sea, and you need to be careful at all times.
“Safety. Safety of the ship, safety of the guests and crew,” Armellino said of his priorities as captain. “After that, we try our best to be on time.”
That helps play into Regent’s near all-inclusive tour program.
Armellino credited Regent with their ability to keep the Navigator in top shape, spending generously on drydocks and ongoing maintenance
“The guests love the Navigator. It’s not a big ship, it’s not small either, it’s medium sized. Our repeaters love it,” he said.
Armellino said that as the required speed of an itinerary leg drops as they pick up distance, he likes to turn off engines to help conserve fuel.
On crossings, he explained that it is best to think days ahead, and go quickly early in the route if conditions permit.
Like most ships, the management structure aboard the Navigator is split into three departments. The general manager heads up the hotel side of the vessel; the chief engineer looks after the engines and propulsion, and the staff captain is in charge of the deck department, while all three report directly to the captain.
The bridge team consists of a navigator, co-navigator, operational director, administrator, quartermaster, lookout and pilot during more tense times. That bridge team is also a mini United Nations with officers hailing from Greece, Bulgaria, Italy, Croatia and the Ukraine.
Armellino followed in the footsteps of his father, who was a chief engineer aboard the Achille Lauro.
“I started to love his job spending summers with him. For me, it was too hot in his working area. There was no engine control room then. I was always telling him ‘One day I want to be captain,’ ” Armellino recalled.
So Armellino made it happen, first going to sea in 1983, fresh out of school aboard a tanker as deck cadet.
He moved up the ranks, serving on all forms of commercial ships, and made the move to the cruise world in 1999 with Radisson aboard the Navigator as a second officer.
In 2011, Armellino was named captain on the Navigator.
Compared to his first ship, Armellino said the role of captain is completely different.
“Before, as a cadet you could not speak to the captain. No way,” he said. “I was speaking with the chief navigator. Now it’s completely different. The cadets can talk to me and share with me. It’s much better."