Ahead and behind in the pale morning light was a queue of vessels, large and small, waiting to enter the port. The radio crackled into life to say there would be a considerable delay, owing to congestion in the area. Mark Dexter immediately mustered his very best British voice of authority. "I was told to present myself at 6.30am, I have presented myself at 6.30am, and I expect to be allowed into the port immediately." Short pause…… then "Go ahead Minerva, your berth is ready."
This was not the first time I had sailed with the affable Sea Captain Mark Dexter, but I was delighted to witness him at his most dignified standing his ground for the benefit of his guests. We first met him on board the intimate Hebridean Princess, and on this occasion we were on board Swan Hellenic's Minerva, at that time part of the Carnival empire.
It was no surprise to us when, in 2007, he was snapped up by another Carnival company, Seabourn, their most luxurious line, where he most recently served as fleet captain, overseeing the implementation of Bridge Resource Management for Seabourn.
Now he has been named as captain of the company's newest vessel, Seabourn Encore. He will oversee all operations of Seabourn Encore, which is scheduled to launch in December 2016 - a perfect choice, as far as we are concerned.
Currently a resident of Christchurch, New Zealand, Mark leaves his wife and two young sons enjoying the good life when he goes to sea. So he is always happy to get back to them, and indulge his many passions: flying light aircraft and gliders, riding his Harley Davidson motorbike, beekeeping, and flyfishing. He is a New Zealand Cricket Umpire and member of the Lord's Taverners charity.
We are all bursting with anticipation to see his new baby the Seabourn Encore, currently nearing completion in Fincantieri's Marghera yard in Italy. A true 'big' sister to the triplets Seabourn Odyssey, Seabourn Quest and Seabourn Sojourn, she will feature one additional deck to accommodate an extra 75 suites, all with veranda, and the public areas will include some amazing innovations such as The Retreat on deck 12, housed in a distinctive flower-shaped canopy to shield guests from sun and wind, with 15 private cabanas designed as individual luxury living rooms and bookable by the day.
The ship will feature many of the Seabourn Signatures we have grown to love on the existing ships, including the Seabourn Square, the beautiful sun deck aft of the Club, perfect for watching the sea, the lovely Sky Bar, and the Marina for watersports from the back of the ship. We are most looking forward to taking a look at the new dining area, the Grill by Thomas Keller, an indoor outdoor dining space with amazing menu overseen by renowned three Michelin Star chef Thomas Keller. The countdown to launch is well under way, so if you want to be one of the first to experience this very special new ship, call us now - there is still space as she makes her way eastwards for her Maiden season in South East Asia.