Captain Gerry Larsson-Fedde prefers to be called ‘Captain
Gerry.’ "To me, it comes more natural. I try and be more
personal and using your first name makes it more personal."
Indeed, it reflects with his style of command. "We need to
work together. It is not who is in charge of this. We are all in
charge of making sure the guests have a good time. More
cooperation and the less authoritarian style of management, I
think works best."
Captain Gerry started to develop his style of command in his
native Norway. A fifth generation sea captain, Captain Gerry
graduated from the Norwegian Naval Academy and then
commanded ships in the Norwegian Navy. In civilian life, he
first worked as a marine pilot in Norway before joining Royal
Caribbean International. Following a period working
shoreside in Norway, he joined Celebrity Cruises.
"I am the first non-Greek to be a captain with Celebrity
Cruises. The company used to be part of Chandris and
Chandris was a Greek ship owner. When Royal Caribbean
Cruises Limited purchased Celebrity 20 years ago, they had an
agreement that entitled the Greek officers to continue to work
on the ships. Then as we moved on and we now have the
Maltese flag on the ships, it opened up for more of an
"I was fortunate because when I worked for Royal, one of the
years that I worked in the corporate office, I was fleet captain
for Royal. I had a lot to do with the fleet captain for
Celebrity. I actually did navigation audits on all of the
Celebrity ships, so I knew quite a few of the people onboard
and about the company before I joined."
"Working, whether they are Greek or Norwegian, it doesn't
really matter that much. They are all qualified sailors and
officers. One thing I have found here is that the Greek
officers are very, very skilled, very, very capable. Norwegians
and Greeks, we have a long maritime tradition and so I think
we work well together."
In addition to being the first non-Greek captain, Captain
Gerry is the first Celebrity captain to have also commanded
ships for Royal Caribbean International including Voyager of
the Seas, Vision of the Seas and Grandeur of the Seas.
Although RCI and Celebrity are both owned by Royal
Caribbean Cruises Limited, marine officers from one line do
not normally serve on ships of the other line.
"The only reason [I was allowed to crossover] was that I was
outside the company for two years working in a hydrographic
office in Norway as a managing director. You have to be out;
you can't swap from one to the other. But if you go out, you
can be hired in again. It is not like you can do one contract
on the Constellation and the next on the Voyager - - maybe in
the future, but not now."
This separation flows from the fact that although the two lines
have a common ownership, each line endeavors to provide a
different style of cruise experience. Having commanded ships
for both RCI and Celebrity, Captain Gerry is in a unique
position to explain the difference between the two lines.
"We have two market segments that we are approaching.
With Royal, it is more of an adventure type of cruise. They
have all of these innovative things on the ships that appeal to
families - - ice skating, rock climbing."
"The Allure and the Oasis are fantastic ships and they are
good for us as a company because those ships are fully
booked, very popular and they get a lot of attention in the
media, which is good for all our brands."
"If you are a family with 12 or 13 year old kids, you probably
want to go on one of the big Royal ships."
"I think we are more like cool-elegant. It is still
contemporary but we still keep an elegant aspect to it. We
have more crew per passenger, the service level is higher, the
food quality is higher. [Although elegant], it doesn't become
too stiff. It is somewhere in between, which I like."
"I remember the first time I went on the Eclipse - - I was
lucky enough to be there for the conveyance and the sea
trials. That was the first time that I was on a Solstice class
ship and I was blown away - - the design of the interior, the
contemporary look. It just looks very, very elegant. At the
same time, for someone my age (I'm 44) you still want to have
a good time and you have that chance - - you have a very cool
martini bar; you have all these things. I think that
combination is really nice. "
"If you are my age - - and even if you have smaller kids
because you have the [children's] club here - - and you want
to go and enjoy yourselves then these ships are phenomenal."
Captain Gerry is also in a position to compare the ships of the
two lines from a mariner's perspective. For example,
comparing Celebrity's Millennium class ships to Royal's
Voyager class, he said: "They both have azipod propulsion
systems so the maneuvering part is very similar. Being that
the Voyager is about 50,000 tons heavier, I found that these
ships [i.e., the Millennium class] are a little more responsive
meaning when you have winds, they respond to the wind
quicker. The same when you use your engine and your
thrusters, they are more responsive. On the bigger ships you
would find that it takes longer to get going but when she gets
going, you need to be careful because she is harder to stop. So
there is a bit of a difference."
"The Voyager had more power so even though the ship was
bigger, she could sustain more side winds [and thus do] more
maneuvering without tugs than we can do here. This one can
handle up to about 30 knots of wind without a tug.”
"From an operational point of view as mariners, there are not
huge differences. The good thing for me when I joined
Celebrity after having been with Royal is that we have the
same policies - - how we run operations is the same for both
brands. For navigation are policies are the exact same."
Captain Gerry with his senior officers
and members of the crew of Constellation.
Captain Gerry Larsson-Fedde
AT THE HELM OF
A conversation with Captain
Richard H. Wagner
Cruise ship interview - - Celebrity Consteallation - - Celebrity Cruises - - Captain Gerry Larsson-Fedde - page 1
In the next part of the interview, Captain Gerry talks about
Solsticizing the Constellation and importance of treating
the crew well.
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