Life on-board with Mark Symonds, captain of Crystal Symphony

Mark Symonds

Interview with Mark Symonds, captain of Crystal Symphony.

Did other members of your family work at sea, or was it just a love of the sea that led you into a maritime career?

My father had ambitions to join the Fleet Air Arm, but I am the first member of my family to go to sea. I grew up around the Solent, and I first wanted to be an airline pilot. I took part in dinghy  racing and yacht racing and while I was at 6th form college in Southampton one of my mother’s friends showed me an advertisement for careers in the Merchant Navy. I applied and within a few  weeks, at the age of 16, I was flying to Singapore to join my first tanker, working for Mobil Oil. It was a very big adventure.

What was the attraction of moving to Crystal?

In 2013 I was approached by the agency that found me the Saga job. They actually said: “You will not believe who is looking for a captain.” I never dreamt it would be Crystal – they are such a close-knit community with a low turnover of crew. I was very excited, but I assumed I would be up against tremendous competition. I didn’t dare to dream that I would get the job. I had interviews  in Oslo and Los Angeles. I joined the ship in July 2013 and I have been here ever since, sharing duties with Captain Zander.

How is life on board?

We try to make the ship a home away from home for the guests. They want to relax but they also become part of the family. Like the passengers, I have very comfortable accommodation, but you have to remember it is also my office as well as my home.

What’s your favourite destination?

You can’t beat the sail-ins to Sydney and New York, especially when we have an arrival in daylight and the passengers can get to see exactly what we see from the bridge.

Least favourite?

I used to say Southampton because when I came into port on turnaround days I was so close to home but I couldn’t leave the ship to go home. Nowadays it would be any port that’s cold and rainy, especially if I had to work on an open bridge wing.

You can read the remainder of our interview with Captain Mark Symonds in the October/November 2015 edition of World of Cruising magazine. Subscribe today to receive future editions direct to your door.