• 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.
A Thankful Tradition: Interview with Captain Nazarov

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

Falkland Islands - South Georgia - Elephant Island - Antarctica - Polar Circle
Up to 1800 USD discount

Falkland Islands - South Georgia - Elephant Island - Antarctica - Polar Circle

Meet at least six penguin species

HDS31-20. This Falkland Islands, South Georgia, and Antarctic Peninsula cruise is an animal-lover’s dream come true. The expedition explores one of the last untamed areas on Earth – a land of ruggedly beautiful landscapes and amazingly varied wildlife. Including photo workshops with Massimo Bassano and video...

m/v Hondius

m/v Hondius

Cruise date:

24 Feb - 17 Mar, 2020

Price:

18500 USD 10900 USD 7600 USD discount

Antarctica - Whale watching discovery and learning voyage
Up to 2850 USD discount

Antarctica - Whale watching discovery and learning voyage

In search for the giants of the seas

HDS32-20. This Polar Circle and Antarctic Peninsula cruise will take you further south of Antarctica, crossing the Polar Circe. This expedition cruise passes through waters travelled by Humpback, Minke and Fin whales. Including photo workshops with Massimo Bassano and video workshops with Myriam Casper. Acous...

m/v Hondius

m/v Hondius

Cruise date:

17 Mar - 30 Mar, 2020

Price:

10450 USD 6250 USD 4200 USD discount

Antarctica - Polar Circle, Deep South Discovery voyage
Up to 1950 USD discount

Antarctica - Polar Circle, Deep South Discovery voyage

Whale watching voyage

OTL29-20. This Polar Circle and Antarctic Peninsula cruise will take you further south of Antarctica, crossing the Polar Circe. This expedition cruise passes through waters travelled by Humpback, Minke and Fin whales. Anchoring in various spots around the region, the expedition offers the chance to hike, and...

m/v Ortelius

m/v Ortelius

Cruise date:

18 Mar - 31 Mar, 2020

Price:

10450 USD 6250 USD 4200 USD discount

Antarctica - Whale watching voyage
Up to 2850 USD discount

Antarctica - Whale watching voyage

In search for the giants of the seas

PLA33-20. 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:

20 Mar - 29 Mar, 2020

Price:

on request

Antarctica - 'Basecamp'
Up to 4000 USD discount

Antarctica - 'Basecamp'

The best activity voyage in Antarctica

PLA31-20. The Antarctic Peninsula Basecamp cruise offers you a myriad of ways to explore and enjoy the Antarctic Region. This expedition allows you to hike, snowshoe, kayak, go mountaineering, and even camp out under the Southern Polar skies.

m/v Plancius

m/v Plancius

Cruise date:

27 Feb - 9 Mar, 2020

Price:

on request