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Hernán Zini

Captain

Hernán Zini
It was the spirit of San Fernando, the nautical capital of Argentina, that inspired Captain Zini to take up sailing and rowing as a child. Today, his passion for nautical adventures continues as captain of some of the most innovative ships in the industry.

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What inspired you to become a ship captain?
My love of sailing and rowing. I was born next to the river, and entered the Navy boarding school at age 12. After high school, I became a merchant marine. I worked on cargo ships and then moved to Miami. Nordic Empress was my first ship with Royal Caribbean. Then I was staff captain on Viking Serenade through the Panama Canal and Alaska. Then Vision of the Seas and Voyager of the Seas. It's been an amazing experience.
If you could be any explorer from history, who would it be?
I'd like to be Columbus - the first person to discover so many places.
If you could have discovered some place on Earth, what would it be?
Antarctica.
How many days a year are you in the Caribbean?
There are two captains on Grandeur of the Seas, and each of us basically spends three months in the Caribbean and three months in Europe.
What do you like most about navigating the Caribbean?
All the open space - and the weather, of course, is a big bonus.
Do you have a favorite Caribbean island?
Puerto Rico. It has a great mixture of history and Spanish heritage - from its forts to shopping to dining. St. Thomas is another favorite because of the beautiful beaches.
How do you like departing from New Orleans?
We have had an extremely good reception from the people of New Orleans. People are very happy that they have another choice in cruise lines. But the best part is navigating through the Mississippi River. It's challenging, but that's what makes it so interesting.
Have you ever been involved in building a new ship?
I was involved in the building of Voyager of the Seas. It was an amazing experience, especially during the sea trials. The ship is a magnificent engineering marvel. Prior to that, I had also played a part in the building of Legend of the Seas.
What do you like best about your job?
Getting to work with different people - the crew and the guests - and getting to interact with so many different cultures.
What do you do when you're not the "Captain" onboard?
Spend quality time with my family and my wife's family. We alternate avoiding the winters in Argentina and England. I never use a cell phone or a pager while on vacation. Only e-mail and that too is limited. I think it's important to spend quality time with one's family on vacation. I also enjoy sailing, playing squash, and swimming.
Who are the most interesting people you meet onboard?
The past guests that sail with Royal Caribbean time and time again. They're so important to us. Each of them brings a different experience to the voyage. They're part of our family.

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