Cruise Ship Gig Anyone? The World's Fastest Cruise Ship, not necessarily the Smoothest! JON HAMMOND

August 20, 2009

The World's Fastest Cruise Ship, not necessarily the Smoothest! JON HAMMOND on assignment for Press Publications ESCAPE! Liberty Suburban Chicago Newspapers The World's Fastest Cruise Ship, not necessarily the Smoothest! JON HAMMOND on assignment: USA Inaugral Olympic Voyager *and, Exclusive On-Bridge-Interview with Captain GEORGE T. APISTOLAS ©JON HAMMOND Intl., Inc. R.O.C. ROCKS The Cruise Industry! Dear Friends! Jon Hammond here...your Music & Travel Soft News Reporter with fresh good news to report! This morning I disembarked from the #1. most exciting ship to enter the cruise market....The world's fastest mid-size cruise ship: OLYMPIC VOYAGER-the flagship of the Royal Olympic Cruises! I must give this ship, crew, staff, food, entertainment, special guest lecturers & itinerary, 5 Stars accross the board. Absolute Dynamite! Olympic Voyager has redefined the term: Destination Cruising. First of all, Olympic Voyager was built 100% from the ground up in the famous Blohm & Voss shipyard in Hamburg Germany, known for its fine seam welding. Here they created the revolutionary "Proprietary Fast Monohull Design" which makes the high speeds possible. This powerful vessel is like a giant Mercedes Benz. Every detail...every piece of wood, reeking of quality. In German, the word is Qualitat. This past June, Olympic Voyager was officially christened by His Excellency Konstantinos Stefanopoulos, President of the Hellenic Republic, in Piraeus, Greece. Beginning June 24, 2000, the super ship Olympic Voyager began running a 3 continent itinerary in just 7 days, visiting Greece, Turkey, Egypt and Israel. Phenomenal! From the moment I arrived, the old world friendly hospitality of the largely Bulgarian and Romanian house staff made me feel welcome. The Greek crew and restaurant team went out of their way to attend to the needs of every passenger. The ship makes a bold new innovative statement technologically, while maintaining sophisticated shipboard atmosphere for the "Premium Cruise Experience"! With maximum capacity 836 passengers, and total 350 staff/crew, ROC's hands on style was everywhere at all times. This is also the debut of ROC's Comprehensive Enrichment Program At Sea. Bringing aboard former ambassadors, distinguished scholars and world famous classical musicians! DR. SERGEI KHRUSHCHEV (son of Nikita!) was aboard as guest lecturer for the inaugural cruises, and he appeared to be enjoying himself as much as I. Fascinating to hear this man expound on many subjects: Political Science, Engineering, Butterfly Collecting and Cold War History! I had a rare opportunity to interview the Master of Olympic Voyager, Captain George T. Apistolas. This will give you a unique insight in to the "product" and the Captain's vision for the future of modern day "Destination Cruising". * Here is our conversation which took place on the bridge with the Captain at his controls. *NOTE: Sister ship, THE ROYAL OLYMPIC EXPLORER is now in service! Captain George T. Apistolas *jh: We are here on the bridge of Olympic Voyager with Captain George Apistolas. The ship is here in Port Everglades Florida for inaugural ceremonies. She is a beautiful ship. Every piece of wood is so beautiful, that you want to make a guitar out of it! Now I'd like to turn the microphone over to the Captain... *Captain Apistolas: I'm not aware if I should say good morning or good afternoon...but I would say, "Good Day!" as they say further north in Canada. You said about wood for guitar...and I was thinking, as wood is for the artist, for the musician..my guitar is this beautiful ship! Myself, Captain George Apistolas from an island, it's called Invers Island in the north of Aegean. So you understand, since I was born, being surrounded by sea...the sea is the mystery that always surrounds my body and my spirits. I would like to welcome you on the Olympic Voyager-the fastest cruise liner at this time, from the modern cruise lines...certainly the most powerful engines for the size of the ship, making cruising speeds of 28 knots. The sea trials have proven that it can make much more than that. But of course, on the other hand, we wanted to run itineraries, as in the eastern Mediterranean-the 14 days itinerary, to succeed them in 7 days, and we really can make the 3 continents in just 7 day cruise! And of course here being this beautful port of Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, for the inaugural call in preparation for the winter season. We will be running the cruises from Port Everglades for 12 days Orinoco River, 17 days The Amazon, another 12 days Jamaica, and Mexico. The itineraries are attractive. All we need is to have our guests happy at the end. This is my goal. *jh: Fantastic! So Captain, I see that you are very concerned about the pleasure and enjoyment of the passengers. And this being a passenger ship, it is much different in this way than most other ships on the ocean. Personally, I lived in Hamburg some years, and every day I could see the Blohm & Voss by the Elbe River. Every day ships would come in there for overhaul work, repair and finishing work. I never was aware that they could build a ship from the bottom up there in Blohm & Voss. This is news to me...can you tell me how this came to be...is this the first ship that has been built there? *Captain Apistolas: We must say that with the capabilities that we have today, with the technology, I beleive you could build airplanes in Blohm & Voss or any of these updated shipyards...the ship yes, was built in Blohm & Voss. The keel was laid in 1998 and she was christened on the 20th of June, 2000 in Piraeus by the President of the Atlantic Republic, Mr. Stephanopolous, and she started our Mediterannean cruises. I will come back to this point of the ship yards...I must say that the construction is very good. The ship succeeded what was the target. To have these high speeds, a good speed to make the itineraries that others can't make. But when we talk about the guest satisfaction, not only to run the itinerary, but to have the passenger,,the "Guest" I call...the last day, leaving the ship knowing that they will certainly choose us to come back. You know the size of the ship is for 850 guests, and we have half the number as a crew. What we can give is the personal touch. I must say from my personal experience in this crossing, I had 650 guests...not usual to have these large numbers for crossing. But I must tell you for sure that I've spoken, greeted and I have talked to the 650. But that makes some difference...because in most of the cruise lines with so huge capacities, there's no way that the Captain can arrange to be everywhere. So one of the main complaints, would say, I haven't seen the Captain. Certainly on our ships, with the size that we have there is no way to say that. But of course, having the Greek flag, we have a good number, over 100 Greek crew onboard so that they can perform and display the Greek hospitality.When they dance on the Greek Night, those doing the dances are 100% real Greeks (chuckle!...) you can be sure of that! So they are displaying themselves, their spirit, and not just the show. I would say, the Olympic Voyager having this uniqueness of the speed doesn't stop the warmth and we have the Greek hospitality that is seldom found throughout. *jh: Thank you. Yes, the history of the ocean and the Greek people is well known all over the world! For me, I look at the ocean when it is smooth as glass and I enjoy that. But for you as Captain of a state-of-the-art vessel that is capable of going around the world...I can imagine that the ocean can sometimes be unpredictable. And I know that in all the years that you have been at the controls of large ships, that you must have had some experiences where even though you have nerves of steel, perhaps you have known a little bit of fear when the ocean gets angry? *Captain Apistolas: Captain Apistolas speaks about safety in rough seas... *Captain Apistolas: First of all I must say that we the Captains DISPLAY "Nerves of Steel", we are also sensitive like a "Champagne Glass"! Don't forget, we are human, and what I wanted to say, the Sailors in general we respect the Sea. We appreciate when we see that it's calm, because we know how bad the sea can be if you don't know how to respect. Regarding sailing the rough seas as you said, all of us have experiences. When the knowlege is lacking, then things can be scary and people worry. Of course the guests haven't always had this experience, if they see a little rough sea they may worry. We are NOT worried about those. If you know the art of sailing your ship, the ships are made to resist the most difficult weather conditions. Either you have to avoid the bad weather, or you have to go through some bad weather but you know the art of sailing your ship...having your ship not suffer and of course the guests not suffer. All the rest of the factors are secondary. The suffering of the guests and the safety of the ship is our main concern. And believe me, every Captain would sail his ship with that spirit. *jh: Thank you. In your experience cruising around the world, do you have a favorite place that you would like to recommend to the people? If they could go anywhere in the world, is there one location that is completely outstanding for you? * Captain Apistolas: I must tell you, that we shouldn't always compare to say the "most beautiful place", but to say, the most INTERESTING PLACE! That way we can compare places. Because if we say we can take you to the most beautiful place...you can stay at home certainly. Or if we live in Florida and we are going to see Detroit, you are going to see some of the same things. Maybe a little climate difference but almost in the area of same. The people want to see something DIFFERENT. To experience the strange, the different, something they haven't seen...and this is why we travel. We travel not to go and live some place because it is a beautiful place, but we travel to be able to say one day we have been there, to satisfy ourselves when we are telling our friends....I was THERE. My FAVORITE place of course is the place that I can see the beautiful crystal clear Greek waters. The beautiful sunsets on the top of this volcanic dry land of Santorini...having a little Rizinna or Greek coffee and just see the sun set at the horizon, and that is my dream place. *jh: Sounds very nice Captain! I hope that I can come there someday. And Captain, of course when you are in command of this ship that has this incredible reputation, that is capable of moving at high speeds...with the Captains of the various ships, I have noticed a "healthy spirit of competition" sometimes between the Captains (bridge sounds...) we hear the sounds of the bridge..so we know we are LIVE here on the bridge! I'm very honored to be a guest on the bridge. It's not often that people can come up here. This is a holy place, I know it, this is the control place for people's lives safety here. So I appreciate the privelege of being your guest here. And so, in your plan for these various itineraries, of course there are other ships that you will see...and they will see you. And this will be the first time that they will see the Olympic Voyager. And you will be traveling in the same waterways passing eachother going to and from...and maybe there can be a situation where you know a Captain of another ship and you're going in the same direction. And you have maybe the possibility to put the "hammer all the way down" and show them the tremendous power of Olympic Voyager and overtake the ship and pass them...do you foresee in the future this opportunity coming? Is there one particular ship that you would like to make this demonstration to?! *Captain Apistolas: I must say that the high ship speed means that you have to be more alert. And I've collected here on this bridge the Top Guns of those officers that I know...and we always stay very alert, because when you sail at these speeds you have to get an EXTRA caution. But of course when it comes to how we feel when we will take the other ships...certainly when they see the Olympic Voyager on their radar screens, on the displays...first at the beginning they think they are dealing with a helicopter...a target of a helicopter or something flying fast. After they could think...maybe a battle ship. Then they go...something like a fast catamaran or something like that. And when they realise that the target is almost 600 feet, they realise that this is another "competitor"...for sure it's not a matter of dealing with sizes or speeds, but for sure they are dealing with a smaller size ship with a smaller capacity, where the passengers feel more like on a yacht..more private than the feeling on those "megacruise liners". It is nice. It is beautiful to see them and I really admire them. But our target is the individual passenger to feel well. And the REALLY FEEL WELL on this "Yacht"! *jh: OK Captain! I see that you are "soft shoeing" around this PARTICULAR question, because I am sure that the occasion will come, when as we say in the slang...you can "blow the doors off" of some ship. And I see that also you prefer a ship where there is more of a smaller size than these mega cruise ships that come in to a peaceful area and when the passengers disembark, it could possibly disturb the peace and tranquility of the surrounding area. And this is a consideration when you arrive in a port. The reception, when you are coming back again and again, of course you are going to always be more welcome on the Olympic Voyager because you are of a more personal size. But the final question I would like to ask is, because the ships are getting larger and larger, and you see these "mega cruise ships"...some of the companies feel that the way they can impress the world is to be the BIGGEST ship with the MOST people, and put golf courses on there and everything like this...but for you personally, what is your personal vision of the future of passenger cruise ships? *Captain Apistolas: I must sound a little dramatic with this answer, because I think that we entirely in the world have taken away....that we don't know where to stop! Certainly with this competition, we are trying to display something more, something BETTER. Consequently, this has to stop somewhere. And to start showing more respect to the nature. We have certainly to stop somewhere. And not to forget our identity...that we are human beings. And the cruise is more romantic and tradition place rather than the shopping malls that you can see around here in Florida. I was walking yesterday in a shopping mall...and I could see thousands of people. There was atmosphere of Christmas everywhere. The trees decorated, the shops were decorated. But...to tell you the truth, I didn't see too many people smiling...laughing. So, I think we have to control our speed towards the largest, the biggest. And to come back to the intimate..to the real personal relations. And to not make ourselves addicted to all these new things, because certainly they are built and made more for "financial interest" rather than real enjoyment of our short life. And I must tell you I was driving last night a huge...a HUGE a "truck" a van...how you call it here? SUV? And, the way I'm feeling in this 60 model Austin Mini Cooper...nobody can make me feel THAT WAY! It doesn't matter how big a car you give me after that!! *jh: Thank you very much Captain! OK, so thank you very much for your time here on the bridge of Olympic Voyager! And all I can say is I HIGHLY RECOMMEND THIS SHIP! If you have the opportunity to join the Captain and the crew and very friendly staff on the Olympic Voyager....then you WILL HAVE a FANTASTIC TIME! This is Jon Hammond...over and out. kontakt: JON HAMMOND International http://community.webtv.net/laterent/JONHAMMOND http://www.HammondCast.com *Jon Hammond is Host of HammondCast Show daily radio show KYOURADIO 1550 AM Vice President Cy J. Hopkins and Team The R.O.C. Team at Olympic Voyager USA Inuagural CEO George Stathopoulos Here is the Main Man in charge of the Athens-based Royal Olympic Cruises, CEO George Stathopoulos. He has an illustrious 24 years of experience in the cruise industry. Formerly, European Marketing and Sales Director of Celebrity Cruises and Worldwide Sales Director of Festival Cruises. Mr. Stathopoulos studied at London School of Foreign Trade and is fluent in Greek, English, French and Italian! Dr. SERGEI KHRUSHCHEV Engineer, Political Scientist and Historian Here is Dr. Sergei Khrushchev speaking to an intimate gathering of the Media on the occasion of USA Inaugural, Olympic Voyager-Port Everglades Florida Copyright Statement This piece is Copyrighted and Published by Jon Hammond International, Inc. of USA No Unauthorized Use *update: sister ship "Olympia Explorer" has now been christened by famed Greek musician/composer Vangelis of Chariots of Fire fame. He is the godfather of the high speed cruiseship. Royal Olympic Cruises went in to bankruptcy, both ships seized by bank plus entire fleet sadly. She is now owned by the V-Ships group, and is chartered to Iberojet. She has been renamed Voyager, but is marketed by Iberojet as Grand Voyager. jh *Rough Ride of Voyager Video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rd84oo5p6Cs*Special Thanks: Bruce A. Douglas, Liberty Suburban Chicago Newspapers 709 Enterprise Drive, Oak Brook, IL 60523-8814 KYOURADIO 1550 AM Jon Hammond's Show HammondCast is on daily and streaming around the world. Bankrupt, Blohm and Voss, Cruise Industry, Explorer, HammondCast, High Seas, Jon Hammond, Khrushchev, Liberty Suburban Chicago Newspapers, Shipyard, Voyager, XK-3c

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