I couldn't believe my stroke of good luck when Stephen Peter telephoned me from Switzerland to ask me if I wanted to join Renaissance Cruises on their new ship being built in Italy. Here I was unemployed in Jasper Alberta during the slow season. The restaurant where I was working had closed for the winter about a month earlier. Now I was hoping that I would get a call from one of the cruise ship companies I had mailed a resume to just a couple of weeks before.
To my surprise the conversation started off on a friendly personal note. " Hello Steven, this is Stephen Peter, do you remember me?" Thrown completely off guard by this opening I responded with a hesitant sound in my voice indicating I recalled nothing of this person. He then reminded me that we had met two years earlier in Switzerland. At that precise moment it became clear how fortuitous I was meeting Stephen while I was in Switzerland.
I was working at the Hotel Eden au Lac in Montreux Switzerland. It was my second and final year that I would be working there and my future hinged on finding employment the following year. The difficulty was finding work elsewhere in Switzerland. Being a foreigner I was required to leave the country and apply while outside their border which would mean a long period of waiting for work permits to come through and worse still a period of little or no income. So the plan was just to wait till my contract expired in December and head home and take it from there. One thing I didn't want to do was put an end to my travelling days. My return home was going to be temporary.
As mentioned, even though my odds of finding a job while working in Switzerland was near impossible I used to enjoy looking at the hiring announcements available in the hotel newspaper that circulated every week. While looking one time an ad caught my attention. It explained a new luxury cruise line company was launching it's first ship and was hiring for all positions. In addition, the interviews were being conducted in Rapperswil, a suburb of Zurich. What excited me even more was the ad and contact name were both in English. I checked out my schedule and noticed I had a couple of days off the following week. Going by my motto of always checking things out I decided to give them a call. The appointment was set.
When the day of the interview arrived I was hemming and hawing about calling the interview off. I was glancing at the train connections and how long I would be traveling before I got there in the afternoon. I recall it being a nice sunny day and thinking how nice it would be to sip a beer on a patio and soak up the sunshine. It was Fall at the time and days like that were getting further and further apart. I thought long and hard about cancelling the interview.
Finally deciding that this might be a once in a lifetime opportunity I got myself cleaned and attired then headed up the hill to the train station. Four trains and five hours later I was sitting opposite Stephen Peter talking about Renaissance Cruises. It sounded wonderful and I applied for a bar tender position on their first ship.
There was however one hurdle. My contract at the hotel did not finish till just before Christmas and the first ship was going to be ready for November. So I was hired on the condition that I could get an early release from my work at the hotel which I didn't really want to ask for or there was an unforseen delay in the opening of the ship. As it turned out the ship was right on schedule. Shortly after the interview I received a letter stating my position was filled. I never gave it much thought after that and moved on with my life.
I did go to England in 1990 and now had just worked from January to November in Jasper. I still had a yearning to travel more and make some money working on cruise ship. I chose a few companies and forwarded my resume on to them. All I had to do was wait for an answer back. I didn't realize that one of the companies I applied to was one I had an interview with two years earlier. Lucky for that too because it was the only answer I got back!
In retrospect, that interview in Rapperswil changed my life. I am glad I decided to go and not cancel the appointment that day and thankful I made a good impression on Stephen. I was hired to join their seventh ship called the Regina Renaissance as a waiter.
Two months later I was in the Red Sea working on 10 day cruises. I saw the pyramids in Giza and the Lost City of Petra in Jordan. It was surreal. Just a short time before I was watching elk graze in the Rockies and now here I was in a totally different landscape. That first six month contract I visited 23 countries.
To top it all off on my fourth contract I met my wife who also worked on the ship. You could say this was the job interview of a lifetime.
It definitely was worth checking out!