Captain Charles Teige. Picture: Niall McIlroy

Voyager of the Seas' Norwegian captain, Charles Teige, has had a good chance to get to know Australian passengers while commanding the biggest ship ever based Down Under over the past two summers.

"I've cruised to Australia six times and it's always been great," Capt. Teige laughs as we share a cup of coffee on the bridge of the 3840-passenger ship.

Before us are mirror-like seas and the captain is relaxed and in the mood to chat.

"Australians are very laid-back and happy as long as there is enough to drink and they can watch their footy," he says.

"Australians know what they want but they are very international and well-travelled and always a pleasure to have on board."

The cheerful Norwegian visited Fremantle and Perth a number of times after joining cargo line Wilh. Wilhelmsen at age 18.

"Fremantle was actually my first port ever in Australia as a cadet," he says.

He joined Royal Caribbean as a 28-year-old and has played a big role in the building of Splendour, Radiance and the Brilliance of the Seas.

He was in command of Serenade of the Seas and Liberty of the Seas in 2007 when it was the world's biggest cruise ship.

Two years ago, he took command of the Voyager of the Seas for the second time with the responsibility of introducing the ship to Australia and Asia.

"It's been a fantastic time I just love Asia and I love Australia - you have a fantastic country," he says.

"There are a lot of children on board this cruise and a different atmosphere. Australian children are very well behaved; they don't tear around the ship.

"The distance between ports in Australia tends to be longer with more days at sea but this is a ship with a lot to do so it's good for cruising here."

He's very aware of his responsibility as a captain in charge of both ship and occupants.

"She is a fantastic ship to be in command of in every way but you still have to have a feel for ship handling, just as you do with skiing or driving on ice, you need to know what you're doing and especially in places like Fremantle where there's not much space to turn around," Capt. Teige says.

"It's important to be humble as a captain. I'm responsible for 5020 people and an $800 million ship but you just have to have respect for the weather and know that things can change at any second."

Although Voyager of the Seas will be laid up in dry-dock for 40 days in Singapore in October while new attractions, restaurants and cabins are installed, Capt. Teige will still be a busy man.

"There'll be so many things happening at once and we have to make sure all the different teams work together.

"There are critical parts where if there is a delay with one thing it will delay everything else and the devil is in the detail, so we just have to make sure things happen."

Niall McIlroy travelled on Voyager of the Seas as a guest of Royal Caribbean.

A revitalised Voyager of the Seas will return to Australian waters in December. A 16-night cruise departing Sydney for Fremantle on March 16, visiting New Zealand, Melbourne and Adelaide costs from about $1765.62 per person for an inside cabin. royalcaribbean.com.au and travel agents.

The West Australian

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