The bridge of the MS Paul Gauguin is an incredible sight. There are buttons, switches, monitors and blinking lights everywhere. I got the feeling there was more technology here than could be found on the bridge of “Star Trek’s” Enterprise. Then there’s the view – a 180 degree panorama of ocean and horizon.
Captain Ante-Toni Mirkovic was born in Split, Croatia and grew up in the beautiful coastal city of Dubrovnik. He became captain of the Paul Gauguin in 2006, but has been on cruise vessel since 1980 when he joined the Jadrolinija cruise m/v Dalmacija as Third Officer.
Mirkovic knows the ocean around French Polynesia well. He said occasionally side winds can make things a little tricky for guests on the open sea (I should have seen this as a little foreshadowing – that night our ship was out on open ocean traveling between Bora Bora and Moora, and the ride got a little bumpy), but he is never really worried about that. His biggest concern is always maneuvering – if the ship is coming or leaving a port or lagoon, the captain has to be on the bridge to make sure everything goes smoothly.
Two days prior to my visit, the ship had a brand new radar system installed. It’s basically a very powerful desktop computer. “When I started so many years ago, there was no GPS. I used a sextant. This technology is great, but it still needs to be monitored very carefully,” he said.
Mirkovic is doing what he’s always wanted to do. His grandfather was a seaman. His father-in-law is a captain. “I am 57 years old. I have done this for basically all my life. I can’t complain because I have the best view.”