Adam Tucker was just a teenager when the Joseph and Clara Smallwood made its inaugural voyage, but his tour of the vessel when it docked in Corner Brook was all he needed to decide on a career in the cruise industry.
“I went on a tour of the ship, and as soon as I saw the bridge, I knew that was it,” said the Pasadena native Friday, during a break in sessions at the International Exploration Cruise Forum at the Delta Hotel in St. John’s.
“That’s when I decided that I wanted to go to nautical school. I went to Marine Institute, did my program there, did some time in the cargo vessels, and then I did an internship on a Royal Caribbean ship, finished up all my licences, and then after that the company hired me right away.”
In 2004, Royal Caribbean transferred Tucker to its head office in Miami, where he’s based now as the company’s manager of marine operations. He admits that, since it was a love of ships that prompted his career in the first place, it was initially a tough transition into office work.
“It was in the beginning, to go from a dynamic environment like the ships, where there’s always activity, there’s always something going on, to an office environment — I joke with my shipboard colleagues now, I say I’m a ‘desk driver’ now. So you’re in a cubicle, you’re in the bureaucratic, corporate America system. But over time, after I adapted, it got fun, and it got interesting, but in a different way.”
As manager of marine operations, it’s Tucker’s job to make sure Royal Caribbeans are always compliant with safety and navigational regulations.
“With a fleet of 24 ships, it’s busy. It’s never a dull moment, so it’s definitely a challenge and a lot of fun, and I enjoy it,” he said.
At the cruise forum this week, Tucker was part of a panel discussing safety responsibility and accountability.
“I discussed safety factors to be considered before a ship enters a port of call,” he said.
“So, for example, if we’re told there’s a port of call that we’re to go to, before we authorize a ship to go there — and this is in the planning phase, so it could be a year in advance — we’ll look at the harbour, the depths, the channel widths, the characteristics of the pier, and we’ll assess that from a risk and safety standpoint at all times.”
Tucker said he gets back to Newfoundland — his parents live outside Corner Brook now — at least once a year. But even away from home, he’s constantly meeting Newfoundlanders in the cruise industry — especially within his own company.
“For marine officers, our company has the highest amount of Newfoundlanders of any other major cruise brand,” he said.
“It’s wonderful. When I go into ships now, I see a lot of junior officers from Marine Institute. They know who I am. They know where I’m from. And now we have a lot of guys that are climbing up the ranks, slowly, and they’re making it to very senior positions on board the ships, and they’re staying on the ships. The representation, the flag they carry for Newfoundland, they’re very highly respected.”