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Meet the Captain of the MV World Odyssey
Captain Kostas Siamantas roams the ship, making his daily rounds of inspections and check ups on the MV World Odyssey. He routinely makes this route and waves hello to the shipboard community as he goes, maybe challenges a few students to a match of Ping-Pong, and then returns back to his post. His true passion is his work on the vessel, and he can’t stay away from the bridge for long.
Captain Kostas has worked as the Staff Captain with the Institute for Shipboard Education (ISE) since 2005, but has held the captainship on other ships since 2011. Growing up in Greece, his true passion for sailing started near the end of his high school career. At the age of 18 he enrolled in the Marine Academy and started on his path towards navigating the seas.
“I was mainly attracted to the business because I love traveling,” said Kostas. “It’s one of my dreams to be able to circumnavigate the globe.”
During his time at the Marine Academy this dream pushed him further and further into the next levels of schooling. After three years he became a cadet, setting off on one of his first voyages for the required 12 months of apprenticeship. Kostas returned to the academy with his third mate license, continuing on with education and another 36 months of a position on board to get his second mate license. The process follows the same pattern of schooling and real-world placement all the way from first mate license, known as the chief officer, to finally obtaining the captain’s license; but the placement process doesn’t stop there.
“Getting the license as a captain doesn’t automatically mean you’ll get command of a ship,” said Kostas. “It depends on the skills you have, and if your supervisors are happy with you. If you prove to them that you are confident enough to be in charge of a ship, then they can put you in command of a ship.”
This mix of confidence, skill and training is what first caught the eye of ISE. In 2000, Kostas was placed with the Voyager, the sister ship of the MV Explorer, which was then owned by the Royal Olympic Cruises in Greece. He had heard about the Semester at Sea program, but it wasn’t until 2005 when V Ships was searching to fill a position on the MV Explorer that the company approached him. From there his dream of sailing around the world began to take shape.
“We are a kind of family—V Ships as the management, the people from ISE, everyone really. I love the program, and I knew then that I was going to stick with it for the long run,” said Kostas.
Since the Fall 2015 Voyage Kostas has captained the MV World Odyssey for eight straight months. Ports throughout Europe, Africa and Asia are no longer foreign to him, especially since he gets the opportunity for some personal travel each time the ship docks.
“I might take a few hours to travel off the ship, but with responsibilities so high, it’s hard to spend long hours off and constantly thinking about what’s going on back at the ship,” said Kostas. “But especially when family comes I love getting to enjoy some time with them before coming back.”
Based in Waterlooville England , only 20 minutes drive from Southampton, his wife and two children often visit and sometimes travel with him on voyages. At 16 years old, his daughter is due to graduate and looks forward to beginning college focusing on performing arts, following the footsteps of her mother. His 7-year-old son enjoys many of the stories that his father brings back from his travels.
“It’s like I have two jobs when they’re on board—I’m the captain but I’m also the dad,” said Kostas. “Of course I want them on board, but I often get too busy.”
While his family doesn’t have plans to join him on this voyage, Kostas instead will focus his attention to the safety and wellbeing of his shipboard family. He recognizes the allure and adventure of independent travels, but the safety of students remains his top priority while we are in port.
“When everyone comes back on board safe and sound I’m quite happy,” said Kostas. “I believe we’re doing the best we can do, and we always hope that we have no incidents.”
Looking to the future, Kostas hopes that his ISE and V Ships family will remain strong. His dream of circumnavigating the world has become a reality, and in one stretch nonetheless. Captain Kostas now looks forward to where the seas will point him in the coming years.