This post has been a long time coming! (Thank you for taking the time for the interview Mikael and my apologies for not posting sooner 🙂
In December (’15) DH and I took a cruise on the Norwegian Breakaway, it was our 3rd or 4th cruise on this ship and needless to say we enjoy it, that’s why we went.
I had a chance to have a chat with Captain Hilden. I’ve called it an interview in the heading but Mikael Hilden and I had a chance to have a chat and discuss the history of Finland, his family and suggestions for those interested in his line of work.
Read it all below!
Captain Mikael Hilden: We have merged with Denmark and we lost sometime we won sometimes and at some point we went together and then we agreed on one country. But then soon after that, we became a different country. So Denmark and Norway have been long time partners with some warfare as well. But between Finland and Sweden, there was never a war. We were just one country. There were not really countries those days, Sweden was a country. But for example, Russia did not exist, it was just the big steps of them. Germany, as we know today, did not exist. There was a lot of, I think 29 or 30 Kingdoms around. They work together, but that was not a country. Sweden was a country before England.
Travel Xena: Wow, I never knew, so it’s really, really lots of history there.
Mikael Hilden: Yes, I mean England belongs to the Roman empire and part of Germany belongs there and they push them off of it. I mean the borders went like this. Sweden was more stable these days…So Finland and Sweden were together together than Sweden had been part of Sweden.
Travel Xena: Ok, so that’s why….
Captain Mikael Hilden: So that’s why we have traditions, we have Swedish-speaking population. It’s very, very small it’s like 5 percent to 6 percent today. But it’s the official language, we have Swedish-speaking schools where I went and we have to learn Finnish of course and in Finnish-speaking school you have to learn a little Swedish and so we still have the tradition there.
Travel Xena:: That’s truly is something. So in general, if you live in the area where you spoke Swedish that no one spoke Finnish for the most part?
Captain Mikael Hilden: No, not anymore because this Finnish-speaking population grows faster than Swedish because we are so cute. So we still have some traditions of the Swedish-speaking areas, but we have all on Island it’s like 99 percent Swedish-speaking. We have the archipelago, which is more Swedish speaking, but there is a lot Finnish speaking. There was maybe 80, 90 percent recall, now it’s narrow down to 60 percent. Some areas where, when we move just outside of Helsinki.
If you go to Finland and you see all the signs, they are always in two languages and if you see the Swedish name first then you know that majority is Swedish-speaking. If the Finnish name is first majority is Finnish-speaking.
Travel Xena: Ok, so you know where you are based on that. Oh, that’s helpful; I guess when you go there. Wow, that’s interesting, I have to go there I always say I would go there one day.
Travel Xena: When did you decide to be a captain or to work on ships or was it something that you didn’t decide it was just your family?
Captain Mikael Hilden: I did not decide. No, my family would have been something else when I grow up I can’t even remember anybody told me I to be something. It was sort of just an understanding of I was going to become a doctor. My father was something else in the family before we’re doctors. There were a lot of priests, but that was not the thing. We have a couple bishops in our family, but that was not the plan for me.
My grand-mom wanted me to become a Mathematician because she was and math was an easy thing for me when I was a child but it was not really my thing. And it was just a teacher of mine asked: “have you thought of becoming a captain?” Just out of the blue, just like that. I said no. He said: “would you like to go for an interview?” And that’s it, I mean you have to be up for different things so let’s go and it was already arranged.
I know that teacher, he still keeps in touch. I asked him a few years ago, how did you come up with that? He said: I don’t have a clue, I don’t know. So I went for the interview and it actually sounded interesting. So I decided to become a captain.
Travel Xena: That’s so interesting, especially coming from a family that had totally different ideas what you going to do.
Mikael Hilden: We didn’t have a single family friend involved in shipping. I knew one person that had been working on a ship, but he was like ten years older than me. We knew each other. It was a cousin of mine who lived very far. It was like I have nothing else, he was so much older…I knew as much about captains as anybody here like the captain steering the ship but as soon as we learn, that is really not the case but it is what it is.
And so I had a long chat with my dad he did not really…I mean sailors had a bad reputation, they were drinking, which was not really true anymore but that was the reputation that hangs in there.
Travel Xena: Especially him being a doctor.
Captain Mikael Hilden: And then so, we talked a long time. Then he finally admitted that he wanted to become a naval officer, but after the second world war, they said: Ok, you could not do anything else you are not good enough because some many remained in the naval army. He was in the navy as well, so he decided I will show that I can do something else than become a naval officer but that was what he wanted to do.
And then he was a dentist at first and so he started to train and that’s basically how I decided to become a captain and I’ve not even think about anything else before I get my captain license. But he was a dentist and then he did a surgery, he wanted to finish up that part but he didn’t like. So by 34 years of age decided that he wanted to become a medical doctor instead.
So he studied again and became a neurosurgeon specialist. So I told him when I get my captain license, at that point I knew a little bit more so I said I would be about the same age when you changed your mind. So he said: “why don;t you think that I could change my mind and do something else?” So that’s where he gave up, I said Ok. Now I decided that I could become a captain, I would work as a captain and then I would decide what to do.
Stay tuned for the rest of the interview on Captain Mikael Hilden of the Norwegian Breakaway.
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