Captain Stefano Battinelli speaks with pride and passion about Carnival Breeze. He worked at a senior level on each of her sister ships - - Carnival Dream and Carnival Magic - - and recognizes the evolutionary step that Carnival Cruise Lines is taking with Carnival Breeze. Moreover, commanding such a ship is living a long-held dream.
Living the dream
Although he looks too young for it to be so, Captain Battinelli has spent 30 years at sea.
Captain Battinelli comes from the island of Proscida, off the coast of the Italian mainland near Naples. “ There are three islands, Capri is the most famous. I live just in front of Capri.”
The Captain's father, like 78 percent of the population of Proscida, went to sea. Accordingly, Captain Battinelli attended the nautical academy on the island, the Marine Technical Institute Francesco Carraccio. “You go to the nautical school, you finish and you start to work on a ship; that's it - - your life is decided.”
His first ship was a traditional cargo ship carrying general cargo and wood. Following that, he worked on roll-on, roll-off ships and container ships.
One day, the cargo ship that he was working on was docked aft of the Grand Princess in Barcelona. “Walking on the pier, I started to dream of working on a passenger ship because, in our profession, it is at the top level.”
Some 15 months later, the chance to live that dream presented itself when he was offered the opportunity to join Carnival Cruise Lines as a second officer. However, by then, he was the captain of the cargo ship and thus joining Carnival would mean giving up command of a ship and becoming a subordinate officer again.
“In my mind, I said: 'Let's have this experience.” He saw Carnival as an opportunity to grow, both in his profession and as a person. In addition, “if I am a good officer, most probably I will have as good a career as well, just comparing what I was doing there to what I would be able to do on the passenger ship.”
“In five years, I was staff captain. After nine years as staff captain, I was promoted last year to captain on Carnival Magic.” Each new job brought new experiences. “I did all the class of ships, starting from the Holiday class, I did the Fantasy class, Spirit class, then Conquest and all the newest ones - - Splendor, Dream, Magic and Breeze.”
Indeed, Captain Battinelli not only has sailed in all of the Dream class ships but he has taken part in the building of each of these three ships while they were in the shipyard. As part of the newbuild teams, this involved not only overseeing the work being done by the shipyard and observing the sea trials but also assembling the crew and helping to form them into a team.
While Captain Battinelli has played a formativeulative role with regard to each ship, he clearly has a favorite. “Having been on all three ships, I can say clearly that the Breeze is the most beautiful of the three.”
The highpoint of his career thus far was bringing Carnival Breeze into Miami - - the port where Carnival first began and where its headquarters remains - - for the first time. “It has been a great experience for me, probably the best experience I could have. It will always be remembered as something special. I was honored to be the captain to bring the ship into Miami, the newest flagship. It is kind of a prize, gratification for so many years at sea. To be the captain of the newest ship when it arrives in Miami was an amazing experience for me.”
A professional opinion
Looking at Carnival Breeze from a veteran mariner's point of view, Captain Battinelli is clearly pleased. “She is very good, very stable. She is a good girl.”
Even though she is the largest ship in the Carnival fleet, Carnival Breeze has a maximum speed of 23 knots, which is about a knot faster than Carnival's previous Conquest class ships.
Her size does make her more subject to the wind. Modern cruise ships tower over the water. Their tall sides can act like a sail in the wind, which can affect the ship's ability to maneuver. On Breeze, a side “is more than 12,000 square meters. So for sure the wind affects the ship very much. However, good ship handling is to understand what you can and what you cannot do.”
In addition, Breeze has some technical features that help to make her more maneuverable. For example, her rudders have hinged flaps on them. “When you turn [the rudder] 15 [degrees] and the flap turns, the result is 30 [degrees] or more.” Consequently, the ship is more responsive than traditional ships at slow speeds. Also, “ it helps a lot when it is windy.”
While all the Dream class ships have hinged-rudders, Breeze“is the only ship of the three sisters which has three thrusters on the stern. It helps very much with the ship handling.”
Having worked on all the current classes of Carnival ship and having been intimately involved with each of the three most recent ships, Captain Battinelli is very much aware that Carnival Breeze marks a significant evolutionary step for Carnival Cruise Lines.
To begin, Carnival Breeze represents an evolution in the visual appearance of the Carnival ships. “This is the first ship where we have changed the architect. The interior design is not by [Joe] Farcus [who created the interiors of all the previous Carnival ships now in service]. He just did the casino and the theater. The rest of the ship was designed by the Partner Ship Design, our German architects. You can see in the colors and everything that there are some changes from the past.”
“I do believe that this is a beautiful ship and everyone says the same. I am quite proud to be the captain of Carnival Breeze.”
Carnival Breeze also represents an evolution in what is offered to the guests who travel on Carnival ships. While some Carnival ships have been refitted according to Carnival's Fun Ships 2.0 program and some (e.g. Carnival Magic) were built with various elements of Fun Ship 2.0, “this is the first ship to [be built] with all the 2.0 facilities.”
“We can see that there is a lot of difference [in the guests' cruise experience] now with Fun Ships 2.0. The [purpose of this] evolution is to give the guests a new experience and a new way to have fun on the ship.”
“We have a lot of things on this ship for guests. We have Blue Iguana, we have Guy's Burger Joint [for example]. Consider the entertainment in the evening. On this ship, we have different shows that we don't have anywhere else in the fleet. I do believe that we are doing a lot to evolve and bring more fun for our guests.”
Yet another evolution is in the management of the crew. “Everything starts from our crew. The [experience] of the guests is better when we have people who are happy on the ship who show pride in what we are doing. So the company is going in that direction.”
Accordingly, Carnival Breeze is the first ship to roll out the Carnival Service Values. Under this program, “all the crew is trained to share pride in the product that we are giving to the guests, pride in our jobs, [and to have] care and respect for crew and guests. Carnival Service Values is all the values that we have to show in respect of each other and the guests. The company view is that we live as a family.”
Captain Battinelli understands that part of his role is to put these words into practice. “ I do believe my philosophy is this one. If I take care about my crew members, as captain, I lead by example. Leading by example from the top [has a nice effect] going down with everybody showing a nice product to our guests. You see that our crew members always smile. They are very courteous, gentle, polite, they try to help the guests.”
Along the same lines, he believes in getting out amongst the guests when his other duties permit and not spending all of his time on the bridge or in his office. “I feel the need to go out because I know that most of our guests are looking for the captain. They want to take a picture or want some information. I know that when people see the captain it is something nice, they feel good. The fact that the captain is in the middle of the people is something good, I like it. That is my philosophy.”
Cruise ship interview - - Carnival Breeze - - Carnival Cruise Lines - Captain Stefano Battinelli