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A Captain among Captains

19/08/2016

How much do you know about one of the most popular Captains in the fleet? From turning full circles in the fjords to the thrills of sailing in to the Big Apple, we find out what floats Captain Aseem Hashmi’s boat. Plus, our pick of the best things to do with an overnight stop in the city that never sleeps

Captain Aseem Hashmi standing in front of Arcadia

Being appointed as Arcadia’s Captain was Captain Hashmi’s first command

7 things you need to know about Captain Axseem Hashmi MNM

From flying passenger planes to meeting a special concert pianist on board – we get the lowdown on the man at the top

 

1 He’s a qualified airline pilot

After finishing technical college, Captain Hashmi embarked on a lifelong ambition to fly, by joining British Airways as a trainee pilot in the Boeing 737 fleet. However, after gaining his ‘wings’ in the early 1990s he was grounded, along with hundreds of fellow junior pilots, due to the economic downturn in the aviation sector. The maritime sector, meanwhile, was booming so he altered course 180 degrees and switched from the air to the sea.

 

2 He doesn’t take no for an answer

Initially, 90% of shipping companies turned Captain Hashmi down as they said he was too old to start a career at sea – at the age of 21. However, his persistence finally paid off and he joined Cunard Line as a cadet, thereby starting his formal training to become a Navigation Officer.

 

3 He was awarded the Merchant Navy Medal (MNM)

In 2013, Captain Hashmi was awarded the Merchant Navy Medal by the First Sea Lord, Sir Admiral Lord West of Spithead, for his work over the years in helping to improve safety in the maritime industry with the introduction of aviation-style checklists, procedures and role-play exercises in emergency-scenario-based training for the crew.

 

4 The view from the ‘office’ never fails to inspire him

‘What I love most about being at sea is the changing view of the world,’ he says. ‘Every sunrise and sunset is different. Some days we have flat, calm glassy seas; on others we see tempestuous conditions, which are equally captivating. I have visited many places by sea that you could never reach by plane, including clearing ice floes in the Arctic and negotiating small tributaries in the Amazon.’

 

5 His favourite port of call is…

New York. ‘There is something so special about sailing into New York in the wake of so many great liners before us,’ he says. ‘As soon as we pass under the Verrazano Suspension Bridge, the Statue of Liberty can be spotted ahead on our port side almost as if she is “welcoming” us into the safe haven of the Hudson Bay from the Atlantic Ocean by shining her torch. Then there is the unmistakable sight of the Manhattan skyline at the crack of dawn towering over us on our starboard side.’

 

6 He will never forget…

Being appointed as Arcadia’s Captain, which was his first command. ‘After two decades of preparation, I remember that first departure from Los Angeles as a new Captain. Making my pre-departure broadcast to the passengers and uttering the words “this is YOUR Captain” was a very privileged and proud moment for me.’

 

7 He has another full-time job

Captain Hashmi’s wife Marina is a concert pianist, who he met at sea. They have two young daughters, Ameera (10) and Raeesa (5). Working three months on and three months off, he says he has plenty of quality of time at home: ‘That’s when I become a full-time Daddy again.’


Sail with Captain Hashmi on Arcadia >

Seven Sisters Waterfall in Geirangerfjord

Captain Hashmi recently ‘pirouetted’ Arcadia in Norway’s Geirangerfjord to allow passengers on both sides of the ship to see the beautiful Seven Sisters waterfall

My signature move: the pirouette

Captain Hashmi explains why he loves nothing better than taking Arcadia for a spin thanks to the ship’s revolutionary propulsion technology.

 

‘Arcadia is the only ship in the P&O Cruises fleet that has Azimuth podded propulsion. This means she is much more manoeuvrable and has the ability to enter confined ports, allowing for a more adventurous itinerary.

 

‘With an Azimuth Pod, the propulsion motor is installed inside a submerged pod that can rotate 360 degrees so there is no need for a rudder. The pod can thrust in any direction, giving the ship excellent manoeuvring capabilities, enabling her to travel when required at snail’s pace with precision control and building gracefully to 24 knots – and everything in between in all directions. Compared to conventional propellers, podded propulsion has significantly reduced noise and vibration as well increased fuel efficiency due to the hydrodynamic pod and hull design. Podded propulsion emerged in the maritime industry in the late 1980s, initially on icebreakers, but came into more widespread use in cruise ships in the late 1990s.  It has revolutionised ship handling and manoeuvring in the same way that VTOL (vertical take off & landing) jet engines did for the Jump Jet Harrier.

 

‘I am able to “pirouette” Arcadia’s 84,000 tonnes effortlessly on the spot with over 48,000 HP at my fingertips. That is one of the most fulfilling experiences as her Captain and what I call real “power steering”. I recently did this manoeuvre in Norway’s truly spectacular Geirangerfjord to allow passengers on both sides of the ship to see the Seven Sisters waterfall.’

 

Make the most of the city that doesn’t sleep

New York City is Captain Hashmi’s favorite port of call, and with so much to do there it’s not hard to see why. Many of our cruises to New York include an overnight stop in the port, giving you plenty of time to explore the city by night and day.

 

Day 1

1pm

The sail in to New York is magical, so make sure you’re out on deck for this incredible experience. If you’ve just come off a transatlantic crossing, there’s no better way to reacquaint yourself with dry land than a stroll through Central Park, just a few blocks from the cruise terminal. The city’s parkland heart breathes life into the urban sprawl of Manhattan and is one of the most filmed locations in the world. Established in 1857, the park’s 843 acres are brimming with attractions. From statues such as Alice in Wonderland and Balto the dog and iconic landmarks such as Strawberry Fields to the lawns, beautiful lakes, reservoirs and ponds, you can spend countless hours in this green heart of America’s most populated city.

 

4pm

For art fans, both the Museum of Modern Art and the Guggenheim Museum are close to Central Park. Or if you want to be wowed by window displays and high-end luxury, Fifth Avenue flanks the park. But to get knee-deep in the buzz of the city, head from Central Park to Times Square. The flashing lights, live performances, music, billboards (where you might even see yourself), colours, smells and sounds are an assault on your senses, but an essential New York experience.

 

6pm

Ascending the Empire State Building is top of many people’s to-do list in New York. However, heading to the top of the Rockefeller Center for evening time will provide a stunning view of the Empire State Building along with the New York skyline. Visit the Top of the Rock observation deck or splash out on a cocktail in the bar at Bar SixtyFive. Soak up your first day’s adventures while watching the sun set over some of the city’s most iconic sights. You might even catch a glimpse of your ship’s blue funnels between the glittering skyscrapers.

 

8pm

Manhattan is easy to negotiate on the subway or in one of the city’s famous yellow cabs, so you’ve got plenty of options for evening adventures. Pick up discounted same-day theatre tickets at a TKTS booth, savour the cool vibes of one of the city’s legendary jazz bars, pick up a pizza in Little Italy, eat soul food in Harlem, go on a dim sum crawl in Chinatown… it’s just as well you’ve got all night!

Day 2

9am

Start your morning slowly and fill your boots with breakfast in Greenwich Village. This popular neighbourhood has a distinctly European feel. Wander among pavement cafés bursting with colourful flowers, cosy bakeries, markets where local traders will take time to talk to you about their speciality goods, and an endless selection of restaurants serving hearty brunches. Take your pick of the buzzing eateries and enjoy watching locals go about their daily business – there’s no better way to start the day.

 

11am

A visit to the 9/11 Memorial is an emotional and unforgettable experience. Finished for the 10th anniversary of 9/11 in 2013, two 30ft waterfalls sit where the Twin Towers once stood, with both pools reaching nearly an acre in size – the largest man-made waterfalls in the world. Surrounding the pools are bronze panels inscribed with the names of the 2,977 people who were killed in the terror attacks at the World Trade Center site, in Flight 93's crash in Pennsylvania and at the Pentagon, and the six people who died in the World Trade Center bombing in 1993.

 

1pm

Take the ferry from Battery Park to Ellis Island to get up close to the sight that signified a new life for millions of immigrants. The Statue of Liberty is one of the most iconic symbols of the Land of the Free, and a visit to Ellis Island will fill you with the same sense of wonder experienced by new arrivals of the past as they arrived in the United States.

 

3pm

Heading back to Manhattan, you’ll have time to appreciate the splendour of the Brooklyn Bridge before boarding your ship for a well-earned rest and cup of tea.

 

For details of our New York shore excursions

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