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Carnival

AN INTERVIEW WITH
CAPTAIN FRANCESCO
LA FAUCI

Master of
Carnival Triumph

by Richard H. Wagner
   Captain Francesco La Fauci is from a seagoing Sicilian family.  Both his
father and his grandfather were fishermen.  However, after attending the
maritime academy at Messina, Captain La Fauci went to sea on tankers.  Then
in 1983, he left the oil giant Chevron and went to work for a small cruise line
operating out of Miami called Carnival Cruise Lines.   “When I came here
there were only four ships.”

     Today, there are 22 Carnival ships and as one of Carnival’s longest serving
captains, Captain La Fauci has seen the line not only grow but evolve from
party boats to family vacation palaces.  “They are not the Fun Ships they used
to be with lots of young [people].  Now, it is more orientated to families and
middle-aged guests.  This run out of New York is all middle-aged people.  You
don’t have any younger cruisers onboard.  In the Caribbean, there are lots of
families in the summertime.  Before, it used to be a lot of groups of young
people, having a good time, let’s say,” he says with a smile.

     For the last several years, Captain La Fauci has been in command of the
legendary Carnival Triumph, a 101,000 gross ton giant.  Triumph is a Destiny-
class ship, a design that has been used extensively by both Carnival Cruise
Lines and sister company Costa Cruises.  In fact, some of the most recent
Costa and Carnival ships (e.g. Costa Concordia and Carnival Splendor) are
evolutions of the Destiny design.   “Destiny was the first one in 1996. - - I took
the Destiny out as Staff Captain.  In 1996, it was the biggest ship in the world,
built in Malfalcone in Italy.  After that, there was the Triumph in 1999 and the
Victory was in 2000.  Triumph was the second Destiny class.”

    “The ship has been in service for almost ten years and is well up-to-date in
her bridge instruments.  Keep in mind that every three years, this ship is in dry
dock.  We spend money every three years when the ship was in drydock for
major refurbishment.  You have to upgrade a ship like it was your own house -
- every few years you spend money.  We were in drydock in September and
we invested millions of dollars for a full bridge update on the vessel - - new
radars, new echo sounder and so on.”

    “A ship of this size and quality can last 30 years as long as you spend
money. It all has to do with investing.  If every three years you keep spending
money, the ship can last 30 years, even a modern vessel.  Ships of the past
went on 30, 40 years, look at the Queen Elizabeth 2“.

    One factor that can limit the life of a ship is the implementation of new
more stringent safety regulations. “The reason why the older ships of the past -
- the Rotterdam, the Nieu Amsterdam, those beautiful liners - - went out of
service was because they [could not] meet the new safety regulations.  To
upgrade the ship would have cost them millions and millions of dollars and it
was not worth it.   It was cheaper to buy new ships.  So, most of the time, [the
limiting factor] is implementation of new rules and regulations, which cost
millions of dollars.  As long as every three years you spend money as we do,
the ship can go on.”  Thus, Triumph will have no problem meeting the new
international Safety Of Life At Sea (SOLAS) regulations that will be
implemented in 2010.

    In addition to upgrading the marine technology, a cruise ship’s amenities
must be up-graded periodically so that the ship remains attractive to the
cruising public.  Accordingly, a giant outdoor LCD movie screen was recently
added to Triumph overlooking her main swimming pool area. “The movie
screen, which was very expensive, was installed this past drydock in
September - - lots of work.  The workers came from Italy to create this big
frame. I can’t remember how many tons of steel there were welded by
professional welders - - special steel and professional welders built the actual
frame for the screen.  Then, they mounted the electronics behind it.  The
screen is very popular.”

   Of course, before a new feature is added, the cruise line must take into
account how it will affect the seakeeping abilities of the ship.  In this instance,
it was determined that the additional weight would not affect the ship’s
stability.  However, based upon experience with Carnival Victory, which had a
similar screen added to her earlier, “sometimes at night when there is poor
visibility, the reflection of the screen [might affect the vision of the officers
driving the ship on the bridge].  So, we may need at certain times to switch it
off because the reflection of the screen may affect the navigation.  Otherwise,
there will be no problem at all.”
    The Destiny class ships such as Triumph “handle the sea pretty good.  The
Sprit class [i.e., Carnival Spirit, Carnival Pride, Carnival Legend and Carnival
Miracle], are longer, lower sail, let’s say more marine.  So, in bad weather they
probably handle the sea better than this class of vessel.”

   Still, as noted earlier, the Destiny class design has been tremendously
successful and remains the basis for new ships. “We carry more guests than the
Sprit class, so [we are] more cost efficient.  There is more revenue on this class
of vessel because you have more passengers.”

   In addition, Triumph and her sisters are very maneuverable, which is a
necessity when calling on islands where tug boats are not always available and
very useful in ports like New York where the currents around the piers can be
very tricky. Captain La Fauci attributes Triumph’s maneuverability primarily
to the fact that Triumph has “variable pitch propellers.  A variable pitch
propeller is very good for maneuvering.  The response is fast.  It is not as good
as the Spirit [class, which have azipod propulsion where the propellers are
mounted on pods suspended below the hull that can turn 360 degrees].  I have
done the azipod [system] as well.  Azipods are the best for maneuvering.  For
reliability, I don’t know because azipod is a very delicate system.  If it works, it
is perfect.  But, the variable pitch propeller has more reliability.  In fact, we [i.
e. Carnival Cruise Lines] are not building any more azipod ships.”

    In recent years, Triumph has been based in Miami doing Caribbean cruises.  
However, in 2009, she did a series of re-positioning cruises up the East Coast
including cruises out of Charleston, South Carolina and Norfolk Virginia before
arriving in New York for the summer and early fall.  The New York runs are
primarily short four and five day cruises which can be taxing on a crew.  
However, “the crew loves this run.  I am the first one who likes this run.  I like
Nova Scotia, I like New England, the good temperature.  It is nice to walk out
in St. John, you have a shopping mall, a shopping area, a Canadian atmosphere
- - different shops, different culture, different buildings - - all within walking
distance.  Halifax has a beautiful waterfront, a beautiful sailing vessel of the
past, a nice museum, very pretty - - all within walking distance.  The crew can
go  shopping in Halifax and St. John.   They all get out in New York.  They go
to Broadway, they go to Central Park, they all hang around New York.  The
crew loves New York.  The crew morale is bursting, mainly because of New
York but they like Canada as well.”
Click here to return to the Carnival
Triumph Profile Page.

We also have photo tours and
commentaries on these other Carnival
ships:

Carnival Conquest

Carnival Destiny

Carnival Dream

Carnival Freedom

Carnival Glory

Carnival Imagination

Carnival Legend

Carnival Liberty

Carnival Miracle

Carnival Pride

Carnival Sensation

Carnival Splendor

Carnival Valor

Carnival Victory
CLICK HERE FOR A PDF VERSION OF THIS ARTICLE
CARNIVAL TRIUMPH TOUR 1

CARNIVAL TRIUMPH TOUR 2

CARNIVAL TRIUMPH TOUR 3

CARNIVAL TRIUMPH TOUR 4

CARNIVAL TRIUMPH  TOUR 5

CARNIVAL TRIUMPH  TOUR 6

CARNIVAL TRIUMPH  TOUR 7

CAPTAIN INTERVIEW

HOTEL DIRECTOR INTERVIEW

CRUISE DIRECTOR INTERVIEW
Cruise ship interview - Carnival Triumph - Captain Francesco La Fauci
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