The Captain of a World Cruise Ship

In Venice, a Young Boatman Steers a Course of His Own

Tommaso Fardini, the son of former president of the International Association of Cruise Lines, is one of the most unusual individuals ever to serve aboard a boat.

He is, of course, an accomplished sailor. “I love my job,” he said of the 17-year veteran of the Italian-flagged S.S. Andrea Doria before we took our first sailing lesson. He’s always been a self-starter, though his life in Venice provides an intriguing counterpoint to the sea.

In 2006 Tommaso, then 30, was asked by the Venetian government to serve as captain of a new cruise-ship project. One of the ships, the Molo Yachting, was based out of Italy and sailed from Italy to the Far East. After five years living aboard and traveling the world aboard the ship, Tommaso was ready for an adventure of a different kind.

“I was living at the time in a small town in central Italy called Varese, in the heart of the Emilia-Romagna region,” he recalled. “I was very excited by the opportunity to take a trip to some of the far-flung places I had dreamed of. I had not been to China, for example. I had some experiences on other boats in the Middle East and in Asia, but nothing like this.”

The opportunity arose when the ship was put on the dock in Venice for repairs. The cruise company assigned Tommaso as the new captain of the Molo Yachting, which was now a world cruise ship. “As the ship was on the dock I had the chance to meet with the director of the cruise line, who asked me to accompany him to the engine room. After a few minutes, he suggested that on a trial cruise I would try to sail the ship from the port of Venice to the port of Banyoles, Spain.”

Tommaso knew of the dangers of sailing this particular ship, as the water is not the optimal sailing area in Europe. “The water is shallow, with waves that reach in excess of 15 feet. But I felt confident. In the time I had been at sea, I had sailed many other boats with their navigators, and I felt that I could manage this journey.”

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