Dave: Thank you. If I may have your attention everyone, I would like to tell you about some of the activities. The Reggae band will be playing calypso music poolside at the sail away party. After dinner tonight, our fantastic dancers will be performing for you in the theater. Tomorrow, anyone who does not wish to go ashore will find plenty of activities to do onboard. Be sure to read the daily program delivered to your room every morning, enjoy your evening!
Donita: Our luggage has been delivered; I’m going to unpack. Sandra: Why don’t we do that later? Let’s get our cameras and go up to the Lido deck. I want to enjoy the calypso music! Donita: Good idea. We don’t want to miss any of the fun! Sandra: I’d like to find time to explore the ship from top to bottom. The ship is just like a small city. (They lock the door and walk toward the elevators. They meet one of the officers who introduces himself Manager: Good evening, ladies. I’m the hotel manager, Firmin van Walle. Donita: Hotel? Firmin: Yes, the Maasdam is a floating hotel. There are rooms for 1800 people. How is your room? Sandra: The room is very nice, especially the huge window to look at the ocean. How did you become manager of such a huge ship? Firmin: It’s a long story; are you sure you want to hear about it? Hotel Manager Firmin van Walle I was born and raised in Antwerp, (world Capital of Diamonds) Flanders, Belgium. I’m celebrating 28 years in the cruise industry. I started as a cook apprentice in 1961 in restaurant Pere Mouillard, Brussels. I continued to go through some of the best restaurants and hotels in Belgium, France, Germany and the Middle East. It as when I was working in Germany when I met a lot of hotel staff who had been working at sea. I was curious and signed on my first vessel in San Francisco in 1979. I went from working in Provisions, Dining Room, Bars, Purser, Controller, Food and Beverages and ended up being Hotel Manager. Sandra: Have you been to many countries? Firmin: I’ve been on several ships sailing Europe, the Baltic and Mediterranean, New England-Canada, the Far East Mexico, Alaska, and the Caribbean. Donita: What do you like about working on ships? Firmin: I like the challenge, the camaraderie, and the team work. Sandra: Are you able to go home very often? Firmin: Yes, (he laughs). I’ll be going home soon and my wife already has a “honey-do list waiting for me! Donita: Where do you live? Firmin: My wife, Fernanda, four grown children and 4 grandchildren live in Ichtegem. It’s a small country village in Flanders, Belgium. Sandra: It must be difficult to be away from your family. Firmin: We are very fortunate on this ship; there are many computers for the staff and crew to use everyday. And my family loves the gifts I bring home from all the different ports. Donita: You sound like you really like your work. Firmin: As I tell other people, you don’t spend 28 years on a ship if you don’t love it!