Holidays are when we step away from the day to day and forget about the office, but what about the people whose job it is to make your holiday unforgettable? Uniworld Cruise Manager Rik Sprengers spends his summers cruising the Rhine, Main and Danube Rivers with the luxury, boutique river cruising company. We’ve spoken with Rik about his life on the waterways of Europe.
How long have you been working on river cruise ships?
I started in 2003 and have been on the river since, I’m about to start my 11th season with Uniworld.
What is your favourite cruising destination?
I love the Tulip and Windmill Cruises in the spring. I am able to show off my home country when it is at its most beautiful. I also love the sailing on the River Queen along the Moselle and Rhine, especially the Moselle River during the autumn, you find miles and miles of vineyards and the turning of leaves in autumn is spectacular! I cannot wait to be able to travel to our newest itinerary in Italy! Perhaps that will be my favourite cruise soon.
What does the job entail?
I make sure the perfectly prearranged program is running smoothly and take care of our guests. Confirming buses, tour guides, writing daily programs, daily talks, making sure we deliver what we promise and helping with individual guest requests or medical help if necessary, are just some of my daily tasks. Another important task is to assist guests in choosing from our diverse program and help them decide what to see and do in the ports.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
The diversity, every cruise has different group and different individuals. Every day we are in a different port, city and perhaps a different country. No two days are alike.
Who is the most famous person you’ve ever served?
The son of President Ronald Reagan, Michael was on board with his wife. He was very charismatic and very kind person. He shared some great stories about his Dad’s time in the White House.
What is the most interesting request you’ve received from a passenger?
To make the Icelandic volcano stop erupting so the guest could go home and see her newborn grandchild.
Do you have any embarrassing cruise stories you can share with us?
A guest was carrying her passport with her in a money belt the whole week; she did not want to put it in the safe. All went fine until the last evening. She got dressed up for the Captain’s Farewell Cocktail and Dinner then thought the money belt did not look very nice underneath her dress. She decided to take it off and put the money belt with her passport in the garbage bin of the bathroom in the cabin. After dinner she got a shock when returning to the cabin and discovered that during the turn down service her bins had been emptied.
She came running up to me and explained the story. There was only one way to find it. A team of three ladies from the housekeeping, the Hotel Manager and I got all the garbage bins, put on some plastic gloves and started to search. After about 35 minutes we found the money belt and returned it to the owner. She was very pleased and so were we.
How do you spend your holidays when you return home?
Mostly relaxing at home in the Netherlands. I love to cook and bake, especially when my family and friends come over enjoy it with a good glass of wine!