Sea Cloud Spirit
The Captains Interview

Sea Cloud Spirit – The Captains Interview

Being the captain of a luxurious sailing yacht and cruising through the most beautiful parts of the world must be a dream come true. For Vukota Stojanovic, however, the job on a sailing yacht like the Sea Cloud Spirit was originally love at second sight.

We spoke to the youngest captain in the history of Sea Cloud Cruise about his path to becoming a captain, his favourite routes, and what his brother has to do with it.

»Favourite routes? It’s hard to decide once you’ve seen some of the nicest places on our planet.«
Captain Vukota Stojanovic (@Heike Fritsch)
Do you come from a seafaring family?

No, not at all. Neither my father nor my mother ever went to sea professionally. My middle brother was a very successful professional handball player who inspired me to play handball as well, but when I turned 19, I decided that my career should be in seafaring.

But you did learn something from the sport that is valuable for you today, didn’t you?

Sport taught me everything important to get ahead in life. It taught me never to give up because anything is possible.

The Sea Cloud Spirit
How long did it take you to become a captain?

Actually, I started in 2005 and reached my goal this year. After finishing university, I went to sea in 2008 for the first time, and I have worked hard on my career ever since.

Following your path, step by step, did you set yourself specific goals for each level?

My goal was always to get promoted and reach the next level. I always worked hard and spent my free time on the bridge to learn faster and better. For example, my English wasn’t perfect at all, so I translated the most important nautical books from English into my language.

Becoming a third officer was quite challenging. We all had to learn independently as the ship had just changed its owner, and the previous crew was somehow upset by that decision and didn’t want to hand over any information. It was quite tough for me because we had to cross the Atlantic from Europe to the US in a ten-day passage with very heavy seas against us. One of the longest ten days of my life, I guess (smiles).

When did you have your first Sea Cloud experience?

That was in 2014 when I started on the Sea Cloud as a Chief Officer, and I didn’t like it, to be honest. But then we crossed the Atlantic under sail and I enjoyed it very much. After that, we reached the Caribbean Islands where I saw several nice places that you would never be able to visit if you went there by another cruise ship or by yourself. These experiences gently changed my mind.

So, it was love at second sight?

Yes, definitely. In 2015, I joined the Sea Cloud II for the first time which is a bigger vessel and therefore a bigger challenge for any officer. In 2021, I was offered the Chief Officer position on the Sea Cloud Spirit while she was still in the shipyard. We left the shipyard at the end of August 2021, and it was quite challenging to prepare the Spirit and start cruising for the first time.

Several months later I was offered the chance to take over the command as a captain. So, here I am, the youngest captain Sea Cloud Cruises have ever had (smiles). I am very deeply connected to this ship and its crew and very thankful.

Like to swap?
Captain Stojanovic at work (Hamburg, June 2022)
The Captains Slow Hand
Docking in front of the Elbphilharmonie
Preparation is everything
What skills does a captain need beyond professional knowledge?

You need a lot of leadership skills, of course. You need to understand how people work, and you need to find a way to approach each crew member as effectively and respectfully as possible.

How many people report to you directly?

I oversee four department heads. It’s the Cruise Director, the Hotel Manager, the Chief Engineer, and also the Chief Officer. Regarding the organization of the deck officers, there is always one officer on the bridge who keeps watch, and every officer is assigned some additional specific duties.

For example, the Third Officer takes care of safety on the ship. Then we have the Chief Officer who is second in command, the ship’s security officer, who is also in charge of the maintenance of the ship in general.

Through the wet desert
The first encounter with civilisation after some days at sea
In full sail
Quo vadis?
The moon over Ostende
Are there any favourite routes that you particularly enjoy?

I always prefer a route in the Adriatic Sea because I am from Montenegro. Visiting the ports in Croatia, Montenegro, and Albania, starting from Venice and ending up in Piraeus would be the most perfect route for me.

But there are so many other nice places and routes to explore! You might go along the Italian coast, along Sicily. The Spanish coast is beautiful, then the French coast is stunning as well, or Scotland for example. While the Caribbean islands and the Pacific Islands are just marvellous. You see, it’s hard to decide once you’ve seen some of the nicest places on our planet.

Which destinations will you sail to with the Spirit this year?

We’re going to sail in the Baltic Sea until the end of August. Then we’ll be slowly heading down south towards the Mediterranean. After several cruises in the Mediterranean, we will sail to the Canary Islands by the end of October and cross the Atlantic to the Caribbean by November.

This is going to be interesting as the crossing is always very attractive and we’ll be under sail most of the time.

Thank you, Captain!

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