Dec 01

Touring the bridge on Allure of the Seas | Travel Smart: Florida vacations, staycations, beaches, resorts, attractions, tourism & more | The Palm Beach Post

Touring the bridge on Allure of the Seas

by Travel Smart

Captain Hernan Zini on the bridge of Allure of the Seas. Photo: Gerry Barker

Captain Hernan Zini on the bridge of Allure of the Seas. Photo: Gerry Barker

Editor’s Note: One of a series of posts from a preview sailing on the world’s largest cruise ship, Royal Caribbean’s Allure of the Seas. 

By Gerry Barker

ONBOARD THE ALLURE OF THE SEAS — It is Day Two of our preview sailing on Allure of the Seas and we have been invited to get a tour of the bridge, led by Allure’s captain, Hernan Zini. Here, perched high atop this massive floating city, is where Captain Zini and his staff oversee all of Allure’s 225,000 tons as it glides through the warm waters of the Caribbean.

Click here for a photo tour of the Allure bridge.

The ship’s command center occupies a surprisingly small space in the center of a large, curved expanse of glass. Even more amazing, the Allure’s four, 7,500-horsepower bow thrusters are manuvered by joysticks that could belong on a video game. In this case, a $1.5 billion video game.


“We can go port to port just using the computer,” said Captain Zini. Just the day before, Captain Zini announced over the ship’s PA system we were ready to depart Port Everglades “if I can just find the keys. Now where did I put those keys?” The affable captain would be right at home in the comedy club.

But here, in the ship’s nerve center, it’s all business. And a big part of what goes on is insuring the safety of the passengers, which, when fully loaded, numbers 6,318 guests and 2,384 crew. Like I said, a floating city.

To that end, the room behind the control console features double rows of flat screens monitoring every aspect of the ship’s operation. There are 1,309 cameras placed around the ship in all the public areas.

For a ship the size of an aircraft carrier, the cruise is remarkably smooth. Captain Zini explained how crucial it was to maintain an even ride, in part to accomodate the various entertainment venues, such as the high dive act at the Aqua Theater. “A variance of one degree” would not be a good thing for high divers he said.

At the time of our sailing a Hollywood film crew was aboard filming scenes for the 2011 movie, “Jack and Jill,” starring Adam Sandler, Katie Holmes and Al Pacino. The captain had to keep moving the ship so the wind and light would be right for shooting.

Just another day at sea for Captain Zini.

Below is an a Q&A with Captain Zini from the Royal Caribbean web site:

“It was the spirit of San Fernando, the nautical capital of Argentina, that inspired Captain Zini to take up sailing and rowing as a child. Today, his passion for nautical adventures continues as captain of some of the most innovative ships in the industry.”

What inspired you to become a ship captain?

My love of sailing and rowing. I was born next to the river, and entered the Navy boarding school at age 12. After high school, I became a merchant marine. I worked on cargo ships and then moved to Miami. Nordic Empress was my first ship with Royal Caribbean. Then I was staff captain on Viking Serenade through the Panama Canal and Alaska. Then Vision of the Seas and Voyager of the Seas. It’s been an amazing experience.

If you could be any explorer from history, who would it be?

I’d like to be Columbus – the first person to discover so many places.

If you could have discovered some place on Earth, what would it be?


What do you like most about navigating the Caribbean?

All the open space – and the weather, of course, is a big bonus.

Do you have a favorite Caribbean island?

Puerto Rico. It has a great mixture of history and Spanish heritage – from its forts to shopping to dining. St. Thomas is another favorite because of the beautiful beaches.

What do you like best about your job?

Getting to work with different people – the crew and the guests – and getting to interact with so many different cultures.

What do you do when you’re not the “Captain” onboard?

Spend quality time with my family and my wife’s family. We alternate avoiding the winters in Argentina and England. I never use a cell phone or a pager while on vacation. Only e-mail and that too is limited. I think it’s important to spend quality time with one’s family on vacation. I also enjoy sailing, playing squash, and swimming.

Who are the most interesting people you meet onboard?

The past guests that sail with Royal Caribbean time and time again. They’re so important to us. Each of them brings a different experience to the voyage. They’re part of our

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