September 26 is World Maritime Day 2019 and, in keeping with this year’s theme, “Empowering Women in the Maritime Community”, Regent Seven Seas Cruises (RSSC) is proud to welcome the industry’s first female captain to helm a newly-built cruise ship when Seven Seas Splendor is unveiled in February 2020.
Captain Serena Melani is an influential 30-year veteran of the maritime industry who has helped to break many molds. Starting her career at age sixteen as a cadet working on cargo ships in her hometown of Liborno, Italy, Melani graduated from Nautical College and went on to serve aboard oil tankers, cargo and container vessels, being one of the few women to take on such roles at the time. She joined RSSC in 2010 and quickly ascended through the ranks, becoming the cruise line’s first female Master Captain in 2016.
To women who aspire to become cruise-ship captains, Captain Melani offers this advice: “Strive for the best at all times at each stage of your career. Keep improving through professional education. Never give up on a challenging situation. Maintain your sense of humor and remember to laugh at those who think women can’t do it all.”
As Seven Seas Splendor will be spending much of her inaugural season sailing the waters of the Mediterranean, and Captain Melani is both a native and resident of the region, RSSC turned to her for a few expert tips to share with its potential passengers.
Captain Melani’s Top 5 Recommendations for Cruising the Mediterranean:
— Get Up Early – Although guests are typically still asleep during morning arrivals, Captain Melani recommends getting up earlier than usual to get a first glimpse of your port-of-call. She says the view approaching a city from atop the deck as the ship puts into port is among the most unique you’ll find in your travels. Her favorite sunrise views are overlooking the port of La Valletta in Malta and the view on approach through Kotor’s submerged river canyon in Montenegro.
— Browse Local Markets – The Captain encourages everyone to visit local markets during their travels in order to gain an inside perspective on their destinations. Markets are the places where tourists are just about guaranteed to get opportunities to interact with area residents, and discover locally-sourced goods, unique handicrafts or works of art. Some of her own favorites can be found in southeastern France, where almost every village holds its own weekly, or sometimes daily, market. RSSC offers the Go Local Tours program to help guests gain a more intimate view of their destinations’ culture and communities.
— Bring a Book – According to Captain Melani, the ideal cruise-ship voyage isn’t complete without a few books, and she recommends packing some select literary works with ties to your planned ports-of-call. For a voyage to the Mediterranean, she suggests acquiring a copy of Predrag Matvejevic’s “A Cultural Landscape”.
— Sail to Istanbul – The Captain says that cruise-goers often overlook Istanbul when considering their route. She shared: “I will always remember my first call to Istanbul. It’s a magical port, with so many interesting places to visit. The Istanbul Archaeology Museums are among the most fascinating places on Earth. Take a local ferry to connect the European and Asian parts of Istanbul and get lost in a sunset while drinking Turkish Tea in the little glass like a local.”
— Come to Ancona, Italy – Captain Melani is spending much of this year working with engineers and designers at the shipyard where the Seven Seas Splendor is being built, and recommends that travelers experience the area, too. In her own words: “Ancona is a cozy and welcoming town in the small but rich region of Marche. You’ll experience Mount Conero Riviera with its hidden villages and delicious seafood; Urbino, home to masterpieces of the Italian Renaissance in the Galleria nazionale delle Marche, which includes works from Piero della Francesca; and discover the poems of Giacomo Leopardi, one of the greatest Italian poets, born in Recanati, a small village south of Ancona.”
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