It All Began with Australia

by Captain Andy Patterson

The family with lain's fiancee, Heidi, aboard Diamond Princess
The family with lain's fiancee, Heidi, aboard Diamond Princess

You always hope your children exceed your accomplishments in life; as for me and my wife Judi, we are especially proud of our son Iain. As a marine professional, he attained a higher certificate and achieved a higher rank with Princess Cruises than I ever did, during my six years with P&O/Princess.

Before he was born, in the ‘70s and ‘80s, I was 3rd officer for Princess Cruises, working on the cruise ships, Island Princess and Sun Princess. Prior to that, I met Judi on the sister company ship SS Oriana, while she cruised from Vancouver to Sydney, Australia.

I left Princess Cruises to be at home with my wife and children, embarking on a new career with a local ferry company, quickly attaining the rank of captain. When Iain was only 9 years old, he asked to come to work with me for a day. He thoroughly enjoyed the experience and asked for additional visits. While onboard, he increased the video game revenues substantially, but also spent time with some of the seamen doing rounds and other jobs around the ship.

From a young age, Iain had always wanted to be an airline pilot, which was also my first choice of career. Then at 17 years old, he mentioned that he wanted to be a deck officer for Princess. Cruises. He didn’t just want to follow me to sea; he was very precise in that he wanted to follow me to Princess Cruises. To say the least we were shocked, yesterday he wanted to be an airline pilot and today a deck officer for Princess Cruises. We can only think the seed was sown by the pictures of ships on the walls, salty seadog stories discussed with local friends who also worked for Princess, and his visits to the ships I worked on.

Upon completing school, he commenced a co-op program at the local marine college, submitting an application to Princess Cruises. Shortly after the interview, he received an offer of employment as a deck cadet. After five months at college he joined his first ship, Coral Princess, in Fort Lauderdale. Judi and I met him during his first arrival in Vancouver. On boarding the vessel, we were interested in how the expectations had changed in 20 years. As a young cadet or officer, my generation was expected to be on deck every night in our mess jackets socialising with passengers. I noted Iain’s mess jacket was hanging in his locker, unworn, as modern-day deck officers and cadets are focused on safe navigation and vessel operations.

As Coral Princess commenced her Alaska cruise season, she docked in Vancouver every two weeks, so we came down to meet him and monitor his progress. Working mostly with the seamen, he enjoyed the life and the ability to learn the tasks required on board a ship.

The following year, Judi and I sailed with Iain on Dawn Princess. As senior cadet, he was now working on the bridge assisting the deck officers. We have subsequently sailed with him numerous times aboard Island Princess, Coral Princess, Dawn Princess and Diamond Princess on cruises to Mexico, Panama Canal, Caribbean, Asia and Alaska. While aboard the ship, he tried to keep track of our movements enlisting the assistance of other officers and members of the crew. On Dawn Princess he sailed under the command of Captain Bob Oliver, who I knew from my cadet days, as he relieved me on a ship many years ago.

Iain recently attended a marine college in the UK, taking and passing his Master Mariner or Class 1 certificate of competency, which is a higher certificate than I completed. On attaining his Class 1 certificate, he was promoted 2nd officer and subsequently senior 2nd officer. Although I sailed as Master for over 25 years, he attained a higher rank than I at Princess, as I resigned as only 3rd officer.

I still remember the day he returned from UK with his Class 1 Certificate, it certainly brought a small tear to the eye of an extremely proud mum and dad.

The Princess Cruises link in our family circle continues, as Iain is now engaged to a young lady from the UK, who he met while working aboard Island Princess. We can only hope that they have children who consider a career with Princess Cruises to maintain the family tradition.

Now retired, Andy and Judi enjoys travelling around Canada & the U.S. with the dogs and cat, and also taking a couple of Princess cruises per year. On completion of their next cruises on Emerald Princess in the Caribbean and Trans-Atlantic, they will have spent about 175 days at sea with Princess. In 2015, they are contemplating completing an entire World Cruise.