• Home
  • Blog
  • A Thankful Tradition: Interview with Captain Nazarov

A Thankful Tradition: Interview with Captain Nazarov

by Oceanwide Expeditions Blog

It takes a village to run a polar cruise. The guides show us the terrain, the serving staff keeps us fed, and the passengers make sure the bartender has never a lonely moment. Yet among all this fine-tuned circuitry, the captain plays the most important part.
Antarctic Peninsula

Questions for the captain

It takes a village to run a polar cruise. 

The guides show us the terrain, the serving staff keeps us fed, and the passengers make sure the bartender has never a lonely moment.

Yet among all this fine-tuned circuitry, the captain plays the most important part, navigating us through the often-treacherous conditions inherent to the polar regions. Without the captain, we wouldn’t be going anywhere – at least anywhere good.

Yet indispensable as they are, captains are seldom-seen presences on board.

To dispel some of this mystery, we asked Captain Alexey Nazarov a few questions about his work, what got him into it, and what he does after taking off his captain’s hat.

First things first: How did you get started in this line of work?

I grew up by the coast, in Arkhangelsk, Russia – the “Pomors Capital” it is called, after the Pomor people of the White Sea – and I always dreamed of being a sailor.

After finishing high school at the age of 15, I left home and started my naval career in the oldest maritime college in the country. I graduated in 1997 at 19 years old, and three months later became third officer on the research vessel Yakov Smirnitsky.

I made my first Arctic voyage for the Russian Hydrographic Department on that vessel, and I have worked in the Arctic and Antarctic ever since: eight years sailing nuclear icebreakers in heavy ice conditions, and almost 17 years with Oceanwide Expeditions.

Oceanwide promoted me captain of m/v Plancius in 2012.

Take me through your first few hours on board. What do you do?

My first hours on board are always the same: The previous captain signs off, handing the duties of the vessel over to me. This involves learning the condition of the ship inside and out, ensuring all the safety equipment is working, making necessary log entries, a lot of things.

Then I report to Oceanwide that I have assumed the captain’s duties and have taken over responsibility for the vessel.

What is one particularly memorable moment you’ve had in the polar regions?

Difficult question. I’ve had a lot of memorable moments out here.

I’d say the time we spotted more than 80 bowhead whales along the Greenland ice edge was a pretty memorable moment.

What are some common misconceptions people have about the polar regions?

They think it’s always freezing, it’s uninhabited, there’s nothing but ice and snow and rock.

Many people also imagine that global warming has made it easier to travel here. But since much of the travel takes place over “ice roads,” these routes have naturally disappeared over time, making overland travel far more difficult.

The northern lights also aren’t constant, and penguins are only seen in the polar regions south of the equator.

One other thing I’ve noticed is that some people who’ve never been to either the Arctic or Antarctic think these areas are going to be boring. That’s absolutely untrue, and I’ve heard a lot of great passenger comments that refute that assumption.

Even for me, after so many years in the Arctic and Antarctic, every day is unforgettable.

Do you still take pictures?

I’m no professional photographer, but yes. Usually I only show them to my family and friends if I think they’ll be interested, but sometimes I put my photos on Facebook.

Maybe when I’m older, I’ll collect everything and put it all into the right folders.

What’s one luxury you miss during your time at sea?

That’s easy: My family and my car. During my time off, I like to visit different countries with my wife and teenage son.

Finally, what’s the last thing you do before you step off the ship?

I thank the crew for doing a great job during my contract, and I wish the oncoming captain and crew a safe and happy sailing.

But always when I leave the ship, when I’m on the gangway and just about to step onto dry land, I put my hand against the vessel and in my mind say, “Thank you, Plancius.”

This is my tradition.

Love this article? Share your appreciation:

Related cruises

Weddell Sea - Antarctic Discoverer
Up to 2000 USD discount

Weddell Sea - Antarctic Discoverer

Tour one of Antarctica's most scenic seas

PLA30-19. The Weddell Sea Discoverer cruise sails through the iceberg-blessed Antarctic Sound on their way to the eastern side of the Antarctic Peninsula. You’ll get to spot out a variety of seals, the fantastically beautiful landscapes, and the noisy rookeries of thousands of nesting penguins.

m/v Plancius

m/v Plancius

Cruise date:

11 Mar - 22 Mar, 2019

Price:

10100 USD 8100 USD 2000 USD discount

Chevron
Scoresby Sund, Aurora Borealis
Up to 900 USD discount

Scoresby Sund, Aurora Borealis

Witness the Northern Lights at Scoresby Sund

HDS15-19. The East Greenland – Scoresby Sund cruise crosses the Arctic Circle into the home waters of multiple species of whale. The expedition will spot huge icebergs as it journeys into the largest and deepest fjord system in the world. Along the way the Northern Lights is guiding our way.

m/v Hondius

m/v Hondius

Cruise date:

17 Sep - 25 Sep, 2019

Price:

4500 USD 3600 USD 900 USD discount

Cool Deal
Falkland Islands - South Georgia - Antarctica
Up to 3850 USD discount

Falkland Islands - South Georgia - Antarctica

Meet at least six penguin species!

HDS21-19. A cruise to the Falkland Islands, South Georgia & the Antarctic Peninsula. Visit some of the most beautiful arrays of wildlife on Earth. This journey will introduce you to at least 6 species of penguin and a whole lot of Antarctic fur seals!

m/v Hondius

m/v Hondius

Cruise date:

3 Nov - 23 Nov, 2019

Price:

19200 USD 15350 USD 3850 USD discount

North (82 Degree) & Around Spitsbergen – Kvitøya
Up to 2050 USD discount

North (82 Degree) & Around Spitsbergen – Kvitøya

Full Spitsbergen Circumnavigation with a visit to Kvitøya

HDS11-19. This cruise around Spitsbergen gives you a great chance to see whales, foxes, reindeer, seals, and polar bears. The expedition will make a landing on the island of Kvitøya, a site of historical significance, and home of a large walrus population.

m/v Hondius

m/v Hondius

Cruise date:

10 Aug - 21 Aug, 2019

Price:

10900 USD 8850 USD 2050 USD discount

Antarctic Peninsula

The 'Classic Antarctic' route

PLA26-19. The 'Classic Antarctic' route. This cruise delivers you to wondrous landscapes found in one of the harshest environments on Earth. The great star-actors of Antarctica are the penguins and in total seven species could appear before your very own eyes.

m/v Plancius

m/v Plancius

Cruise date:

28 Jan - 7 Feb, 2019

Price:

on request