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Review: Island Sky - Noble Caledonia

Cruise - Ocean Cruise

Interview with Captain Svensson

  • By SilverTraveller Steve-Newman

    18 reviews


  • Jun 2010
  • Solo
  • Special occasion
  • Oceanview

128 people found this review helpful

Captain TorbjÖrn Svensson
Master of Noble Caledonia’s Island Sky

Do you come from a Seafaring Background?

In a way. My father was an artist and writer who loved islands and the sea. As a family we sailed around the Stockholm Archipelago on Folk Boats and there is no doubt I inherited my father’s love of the sea. At 17 I was bored of school and a career at sea just came naturally to me.

Where did you train?

At Stockholm Nautical College, I left with my Master Mariner examination and graduated as a Deck officer in 1974, I was a Master Mariner Captain when I was just 22.

How did your early career develop?

I first went to sea professionally as a deck boy for the Johnson line sailing and the BrostrÖm company, and in the domestic shipping service in the archipelago. After College for a time I worked on reefer ships then I got the idea about cruising with people As a young man I bought an old steamer the SaltsjÖn, she was 40 metres long and could carry 300 people. From those small beginnings I became a self employed captain and shipowner. I initiated the rebuilding of the well-known “Linblad Polaris” and my company also for sometime operated the legendary “Lindblad Explorer.” I also have a restaurant in Stockholm. I fell in love with expedition cruising and my last ship before Island Sky was Clipper Adventurer which I left in 2009.

What is this ship like to serve on?

Very nice! We have 71 crew on board who are mostly Philippino seamen as well as the expedition staff who work with the one hundred guests. The crew work usually on a 7-8 month contract whilst Senior Staff work two and a half months on and off. My First Officer is Swedish and my Chief Engineer is Ukrainian whilst both the Cruise Director and Hotel Manager are South African. I brought both my engineers from my previous ship with me. I simply love expedition cruising especially the interaction between the nautical and hotel elements. It’s fair to say I would never go back to cargo shipping.

What specialist knowledge do you need for working on this ship?

You need a flexibility to be one step ahead of the guests. I tell all of my crew that we do not have passengers on board but guests. I try to install this in all of them from the hotel staff to the engine room. In the expedition cruise sector you need not to be just an excellent seaman but a diplomat and an entertainer. We have an open bridge policy during daylight hours and when not involved in manoeuvring so I can be talking to passengers one minute and involved in docking or leaving port the next.

How does poor weather affect you?

We react to bad weather by rerouting to avoid it and thus I have to think on my feet if we have to say to the guests, sorry but you can’t go to A now but we have B which you will find just as, if not more interesting. Expedition cruising is all about getting the guests ashore in zodiacs and if we have to cross bad conditions to get to somewhere like St Kilda and when we get there we can’t land, there is simply no point in going. Most of our guests are seasoned expedition cruisers and they understand this. Sometimes when we reach a destination the swell has become too big to safely launch the zodiacs at a designated landing spot so we have to find another spot that will be safe or abandon the landing. What has been your most difficult experience at sea?

Without doubt sailing in Antarctica. There is a tremendous amount of pressure on you with the rapid changes of weather and you really have to adjust quickly. As I said before I love expedition cruising but the Antarctic can be a challenge if you’re not careful. It’s very ‘interesting’ but I would not like to do a full season down there.

What is the most useful innovation you have seen introduced in your time at sea?

Communications and such items as GPS and AIS. We do have a sextant on board and we can use it if needs be but really the technological advances have been phenomenal. The fact that I can pick up a telephone and find our exact position and talk to anyone anywhere in the world is so useful. Also to be able to ascertain one’s position with accuracy when out of sight or radar range of land is a revolution. All in all, shipping has become much safer in recent decades and years.


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This review is solely based on the opinion of a Silver Travel Advisor member and not of Silver Travel Advisor Ltd.

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