EXCLUSIVE: Serena Melani is a woman who has charted her own course. Indeed, the luxury cruise ship captain has made her mark in what is otherwise a male dominated profession.
Captain Melani is the Master Captain of one of the worlds most luxurious cruise ships, Seven Seas Splendor. Indeed, it is the flagship of the ultra-luxury line Regent Seven Seas Cruises. When she took the helm of this magnificent vessel she became the first woman to captain a newly launched ocean ship.
So highly regarded was Captain Melani that she worked closely with the builders of Seven Seas Splendor to ensure it performed perfectly. “Witnessing Seven Seas Splendor come to life in the shipyard and being her Delivery Captain, taking her out for the opening was an enormous privilege. I am still excited about that after two years”, she told me. “Now it is like watching your own baby grow and getting more experienced with her, sailing the Seven Seas like I did when I was just a Deck Cadet.”
Serena Melani seemed destined for a life at sea
Captain Melani became a cadet at the age of 16, while still attending school in her hometown of Livorno, Italy. She graduated Nautical College in 1993 and quickly rose through the ranks to assume positions of responsibility on tankers and cargo vessels. In 2010 she joined Regent Seven Seas Cruises.
Perhaps it’s no surprise to learn that she has always been a traveller at heart. “Exploring the world is my way of living and having unique experiences”, Serena Melani explained. “My eyes are still full of wonder and amazement”. Though she admits seeing far-flung ports from a luxury cruise ship is extra special. “Seven Seas Splendor is like one of those elegant and sophisticated ladies: her beauty is discovered one day at a time in all the intricate little details that help to make her so special. She is truly a fascinating luxury cruise ship.”
According to Captain Melani, one of the most beautiful places on board is the Observation Lounge. She especially likes the ornamental glass flowers that decorate the entrance and ceiling. “The stylish, soft colours remind me of the sea of Sardinia in the Mediterranean”, she said.
The turquoise waters of Sardinia are but one of the many beautiful destinations Captain Melani knows well, but the port she loves most is Lisbon, Portugal. “It’s the special and unique light of Lisbon mirroring her vintage beauty on the Tagus River”, she explains. That said, she also tells me there is something new to discover in even the most familiar ports.
Sharing the destinations
Serena Melani is passionate about sharing the world with her guests. “I love that we get to cross paths with so many different types of people for a period of time and create a small community on board our ships. At the end of the voyage you will know everyone on board.” Indeed, this writer can attest to that!
It’s worth remembering there are challenges to a life spent at sea. “You do unfortunately miss a lot of a special moments with family and friends who are left behind at home”, explained Captain Melani. “You need to have a compromise with yourself at the very beginning of your career, that you will also get to experience some amazing sights and journeys throughout your life at sea, and these help to shape you.”
Undoubtedly they do, but it’s also fair to say Serena Melani’s life at sea has shaped her industry, albeit unintentionally. Her seniority among the world’s elite luxury cruise ship captains surely encourages young women to follow in her footsteps.
For more information about Regent Seven Seas Cruises visit the website.