Tony Fitzsimmons Food and Beverage Director on the Jewel of the seas
From Liverpool England.
If you ever have the chance to meet up with cheerful Tony Fitzsimmons on a Royal Caribbean ship. Ask him about his encounter with Elizabeth Taylor and the blue dress. While I promised I wouldn’t share that hilarious tid bit on my blog I didn’t promise that I wouldn’t suggest you ask him about it 😉
More importantly stop whatever you’re doing and chat. He’s one of the most delightful personalities you’ll come across and will be someone that you hope to meet again. Along with having a chance to interview him my friends and I along with only a few others were invited to his table to dine with him. (Photo of him and head Chef Ashley Duff below). There and at his presentation about 55 years of life at sea we had the chance to learn more about his fascinating life and career. He took the time to share some of his thoughts on how he feels about what he does. The interview is below.
What made you go into this line of work?
Well Liverpool during that period when I was starting to grow up was a very large seaport. And more or less every family had a member of the family going to sea. So I thought I’d like to do it, and that’s what made me go to sea.
So is it something that you thought you’d do as a kid?
Yes. My father went to sea, and my uncle, both my uncle and my father died at sea. That was during the war, but yes I thought I’d like to go to sea.
So what do you enjoy most about your job?
Meeting people (it’s) very important, listening to people is also very important. And once you go into food and beverage you very seldom come away from it.
What’s your favorite port to leave from and to visit?
I’ve no favorite ports in particular. It’s a voyage. At the end of my contract yes that’s my favorite port of call. (laughs) To go the airport…(smile) If I were to look back I liked Valapariso, Bunos Aires, Santos Uruguay, Montevideo. …South American Ports, only because of Che Guevarra the revolutionist…
Me: So it was something exciting.
Tony: Yeah. (Laughs)
So if a young person says to you. I want to do what you do — I want to work on a ship too. What would you tell them what would you encourage them to do?
I’d tell them (about) sometimes the heartache of being away from home if anything happens. And the actual blessing that you’re going to be amongst people of good nature and good character and all working together for one particular aim and that’s to make the guests happy.
Speaking of guest if a guest comes up to you and say Tony this is the first time I’ve been on a cruise, what should I do to have a good time?
Well first off I’d say…well okay you’ve got your cruise compass. That’s your Bible sort of this week, you’ve got one printed every day. Not what seating are you on? Are you first or second sitting, and if they ask me if I can change it I would change it for them. Just as long as they’re happy. Do a follow up call to make sure they’re okay. And that’s exactly what I’d do.
This might be another tough question like the ports but do you have a favorite ship?
Well really from a seamans point of view they sort of say your favorite ship is your last one. And yes I like this one, I like this class of ship. This class of ship suits me and the way she’s built she has some nice bells and whistles in her. I think so.
Is there anything in particular that you just want to share with people?
About the company Royal Caribbean, they like to take expertise over age. I should have retired six years ago at the age of 65, but no no I kept going. You’re not (sic) pressured. … I can go anytime but it’s my choice to be here. There’s no pressure coming down the pipeline …”well you know Tony you are 71 don’t you think you should (laughs) well that’s what I do like and I’ve been here going on 28 years. And yet they’ve looked after me as much as I’ve looked after them, and I would recommend this company out of all the companies out there. Even though I’ve sailed all the world with Cunard — that was 4 classes which wasn’t very nice. Segregation. I didn’t like the people unable to mix. Now they’ve opened the ship up to the neighbor next door … they save their pennies and then they come. That’s what I like about today’s guests. It’s a vast cross section of the public, whereas before you saw people dressed up for dinner you saw people dressed up every evening for dinner the bow ties, the tails…everything.
So it’s one of the biggest differences between back then and today.
When you’ve got one class everyone’s in the same boat. I like that. As I say from the company…(there’s) no pressure for retiring.
That says a lot about the company.
I think that it’s a good company to work for. People have their moans and groans about companies, but get over it. (Laughs)
Do you have a favorite cruise memory.
Only that one I told you about Elizabeth Taylor (laughs) don’t print that! (laughs) No not really…the greatest cruise memory I have is when I brought the ships out when you’re on board and the ships getting finished and she gets her first passenger on board and over night she comes alive, until such time she goes to breakers yard she’s alive every day.
Thank you Tony it was such a pleasure meeting you and I hope to see you again on a ship one of these days!
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