Pololu Valley Lookout on the north shore of the Big Island
Where were you born?
I was born in Silvis, Illinois, a town of about 7000 people near the Mississippi River. My parents had a little outboard motorboat so we spent a lot of Summer Saturdays on the river, either cruising around or sunning ourselves on a little sandbar island we liked. I still have an affinity for small towns and the particular beauty of the Midwest, but I love the vibrancy of big cities, as well as the mountains, forests, and mild climate of the Pacific Northwest, which is my current home.
When did you first know you wanted to work in the travel/cruise industry?
I didn’t, actually. I quit college after my freshman year because I really didn’t know what I wanted to do and felt like I was wasting my time and money. Instead, I enrolled in a 1-year travel program because it was fast and cheap. After I got into the travel industry it was hard to get out – it’s easier to get a job in a field where you have experience. But it didn’t take me long to discover the thrill of travel, and the perks that come with working in the travel industry can be addictive. I eventually returned to college and got a degree in English to indulge my love of reading and writing, but came back to the travel industry because the opportunities are so varied and plentiful.
When did you start working for HAL, and have you worked for other cruise lines previously?
I started at HAL in March of 2004. I previously worked for a small riverboat cruise line in Illinois, though they just did day cruises and dinner cruises – no overnight accommodations. As far as the travel industry goes, I’ve also worked for Amtrak (my first travel job back in the late 80s) and a number of hotels.
What areas have you worked in at the HQ?
I started in Reservations, and within a year transferred to Windstar Reservations back when they were still owned by HAL. Just before the sale of Windstar was announced I transferred to Business Development – a rare example of good timing on my part. After a little more than a year in that department the Communication Specialist position became available in Guest Relations, and I couldn’t resist the opportunity to finally use that English degree I spent 13 years paying for. It’s nice to have a job that combines two things I love – travel and words.
Any special achievements, awards, acknowledgements or fun facts in life or while with HAL?
I once won third place in a typing contest, and I used to do pretty well at spelling bees. As far as HAL goes, this month is my 6-year anniversary, which I consider an achievement since that’s twice as long as I’ve worked for any other company. I must be getting less restless as I age.
Tell me about your family and where you live.
My original family would be mom & dad and 2 older sisters – Dana & Wendy. Dad passed away many years ago, but my mom & sisters are well and all still living back in Silvis. They aren’t quite as obsessed with wandering as I am, though I did take them on a HAL coastal cruise on the Volendam a few years back and we had a great time. They also came to visit me in Seattle last summer and I took them out to the Olympic Peninsula to see where the vampires hang out – they’re big Twilight fans. A few years ago I met Henry and added him to my family, and we registered our Domestic Partnership with the State of Washington as soon as they gave us the option back in 2007. We bought our first house last summer, and my mom & sisters were our first houseguests. Luckily, Henry loves traveling as much as I do. In fact, we just booked our third HAL cruise.
What is your favorite ship in the fleet?
That’s hard to say, since I’ve sailed on so few of them. I’m intrigued by the Prinsendam because I prefer smaller ships, but of the ships I’ve sailed on, I’d choose the Amsterdam. It was just a 3-day Coastal sailing, but everything about it was wonderful, except for the scrambled eggs. We were in a Deluxe Suite, so I spent a lot of time lounging and reading on the huge verandah, and thought the Neptune Lounge was a very nice perk. I love the Astrolabe art piece in the Amsterdam’s atrium as well.
Since you have also worked for Windstar Cruises when it was part of HAL, what is your favorite Windstar ship (or other small ship)
The only one I’ve sailed on is the Wind Surf, and she was a beautiful ship. I was lucky enough to be sent on a fam cruise for work – the Barbados northbound itinerary. I felt like it was a karma payout for every good deed I’d ever done in my entire life. And it was the best food week of my life. So I have a deep fondness for the Surf.
What is your favorite port of call?
Of the cruise destinations I’ve been to, I would probably choose Iles des Saintes. It’s a tiny little port in the French West Indies – basically an old fishing village – terribly quaint. Supposedly the residents are descended from pirates. There’s a protected cove on the Atlantic side that was the first place I ever snorkeled. I also had an interesting walk down an old dirt road, through a New Orleans-style above-ground cemetery, to an empty beach. It was marked “Dangerous!” on the tourist map, which is probably why it was empty, and probably what compelled me to go there. The surf was pretty impressive, and it was at the end of a little runway, so I got to see a couple of small planes take off right over the beach. It was a wonderful day, made even better by the fact that I had absolutely no idea what to expect from this port. Of course, if I went back now it would have a lot to live up to in my mind, and would probably fail. Low expectations can be a wonderful thing.
Name your dream 10-day itinerary if fuel and logistics were of no concern. (Meaning you can depart from Rome and be in Costa Rica the next day if you like, etc)
This one’s tough – too many choices. I guess the first stop would be Dubrovnik, which I’ve wanted to see for a long time now. From there we’d got to Tunis to visit the ruins of Carthage (Henry is a Hannibal fan). Next stop would be Stockholm, as I’ve heard it’s the most picturesque of the Baltic capitals from a sea-going perspective. I’m kind of fascinated by the Faroe Islands, so that would be stop number 4, then to Belize City to do some snorkeling and visit a Mayan ruin. After a detour down the Amazon and back, we’d make a quick stop in Antarctica just to say we were there. Next we’d sail north through the Chilean fjords to Lima for an excursion to Machu Picchu. Stop number 8 would be Easter Island, then to Auckland to satisfy my New Zealand craving. The final stop would be Bangkok for some great Thai food and a quick land excursion to Cambodia to visit Angkor Wat. Then home to figure out how I’m going to get to the other 10,000 places I want to see…
“Secret Beach (my favorite beach) on the north shore of Kaua’i.”
Thanks for sharing with everyone Jeff!