Captain Lis Lauritzen, Master of Vision of the Seas, talks to Byron Clayton about her career and ship.
Where are you from and what is your family background?I was born in 1971 and grew up in Denmark, with a Japanese mother and Danish father. My father was a sailor with Mærsk Line, so shipping has always been part of our family life, although he stopped going to sea when my sister and I were born.
When did you first go to sea?In June 1989 as a junior seaman aboard Danish-flagged gas tanker Kosan, operated by Lauritzen for seven months and I enjoyed it. I moved to roll-on roll-off ships working in South America and later to Beltferries.
What inspired you to make a career in shipping?The passion my father displayed talking about his travels. My dad passed away when I was 15 so he never knew that I went to sea. The stories he told me were my inspiration for wanting to see different places in the world.
How has your career developed?The first ten years of my career was spent on various cargo ships. After I completed my education, I worked on a C. Clausen livestock carrier with 4,000animals aboard. This was interesting, but I wanted more of a challenge, so I joined Royal Caribbean and have spent the last 15 years aboard passenger ships.
How has your career developed with Royal Caribbean?Upon completion of my master mariner certificate, I joined Royal Caribbean in November of 1998 as first officer on Grandeur of the Seas. From there I moved to Explorer of the Seas and then Radiance. I had the privilege of being the Chief Officer for Jewel of the Seas and was part of the start-up team in the construction phase at Meyer Werft. I then went to Monarch of the Seas, Serenade, back to Jewel, back to Radiance and then finally to Vision of the Seas.
When did you first become Captain of a ship?I had my first command on Jewel of the Seas in 2008 as a relief Captain, and on Radiance, before I got a permanent command on Vision on 10 August 2011.
What is the difference between a staff captain, relief captain and having a permanent command?There is no difference between being a relief Captain and permanent Captain in terms of responsibility and the job itself. A relief captain is usually a Staff Captain who steps up to a Captain’s position when required, and that can be for a few weeks or just days when the permanent captain has to be away. The Staff Captain is second in command and responsible for the deck department, safety and security. As captain you are responsible for the overall safety of all persons on board, the ship and the environment, but running a ship is of course not a one-person show, as there are so many different aspects, such as safety, guest and crew satisfaction, logistics and the technical side.
Why do you like being Captain?There are many reasons why I love my job and working for Royal Caribbean. We have 765 crew aboard Vision of the Seas from 65 different nations working together as one team. In addition to the diversity of the team, the day-to-day requirements of the job make it very interesting.
Do you feel people treat you differently or have different expectations because you are a female captain?The first impression of passengers when they meet me is kind of funny. When I make the announcement for the guest safety drill, people always believe that I am a big lady because of my deep voice. Then when they actually see me they say, ‘my goodness, how is it possible that this tiny woman can run a big boat like this?’ I don’t think we, as female Captains, are treated differently, but then again, it is still a man’s world, so I think I can speak for all women who, ten years ago, were in a similar work environment, in saying that we always had to be just that little better or more dedicated to be fully accepted. Now things have changed and it is becoming more and more normal to see women in all work areas.
Do you prefer enclosed or open bridge wings?Most Captains will tell you that they do not like having to use open bridge wings in the rain or adverse weather, but you get used to it. Here on Vision we have open bridge wings and I did not like it initially. I came from Radiance of the Seas and Jewel of the Seas, which both have enclosed bridge wings. But with the open bridge wings you also feel the elements, and that can be a benefit and the wind, and that at times can be a benefit.
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