Captain’s Log – An Interview With Captain Hugh Maynard
Since joining Thomson Cruises 9 years ago, Captain Hugh Maynard has worked his way from First Safety Officer on Thomson Celebration to the biggest gig of them all on Thomson Dream. Here’s what he has to say about life on the ocean waves…
Getting my sea legs
I grew up in the market town of Maldon in Essex, on the banks of the River Blackwater. My dad was an accountant because his dad had been an accountant and, like most kids then, I was expected to do the same.
But I was a wayward youth. I’d grown up sailing with my dad – he’s a great seaman – up and down the rivers and creeks of the east coast and across to Holland and France in his small boat. When my mum was confident I wasn’t going to drown, she let me loose on my own boating adventures. By then there was no turning back.
I first went to sea in 1979 as an assistant steward on the cross-channel ferries out of Dover. I soon looked for another job and gained a deck apprenticeship. After that, I worked my way up through sea time and study time – a cadetship on a cargo ship, time on tankers and cable ships, and now passenger ships.
The grit and the glamour
I loved it the first time I went away. I spent 6 months on a cargo ship travelling to the Caribbean, West Africa, Singapore, and China. I fell in love with the sights and sounds of Asia – it was like landing on the moon 20 years ago. Eventually, my mum had to call and ask when her boy was coming home.
Now, I work 3 months on, 3 months off. Onboard, I’m the face of the ship. I host dinner on the gala nights, I officiate at blessings at sea, I talk to passengers. I also manage a team of 60 in the engine room and I’m always on the bridge for arrivals and departures to take the ship in and out of port.
Putting down anchor
I’ve docked at hundreds of ports in my time. My favourites? I love Venice, and Barcelona is a great place, full of Catalan joy. Then there’s Palma in Majorca. Its old quarter has some great tapas bars. I’m also fond of Naples. I like that it’s rascally, but it’s got some great architecture and fantastic food. South Africa is the only place I’m yet to visit.
Now, I live in the US when I’m not at sea. During a spell working on a yacht in the Eighties I met an American girl and chased her back to her homeland to eventually marry her. For the past 25 years, we’ve been in the Rocky Mountains of Wyoming and Idaho, very close to Yellowstone National Park. I like hiking and biking and during the winter months I work for a local ski company. We’ve got a canoe and paddleboards, but I have to admit that my 11-year-old son has got more used to grizzly bears than boats.