Catch Up With the Crew: Meet Captain Mark

View of Holland America Line captain and crew cruising to Alaska.

Sharp navigator. Savvy and spirited seafarer. Adventure seeker. These are ways you could describe Captain Mark Trembling, but none of them come close to adequately describing his passion for sailing and caring for guests and crew. He’s joy in a bottle, skill at the helm and a comedian on stage.

When asked how many years he has sailed the seas, Captain Mark’s authentic charm didn’t miss a beat. “I’m just coming up to 20 years with Holland America Line, and I know what you’re thinking,” he chuckled. “I look far too young to have been with Holland America Line that long.”

Though he’s been with us for two decades, his passion for seafaring began when he was just 16 years old, ready to leave London for worldwide adventures. The sea had captured his heart – first on cargo ships and later as an officer with Holland America Line. It’s a career that has kept him coming back for more – chasing the next sunrise and sunset, exploring the whole world over, and delighting guests along the way. As a captain, every day is new with multiple things to do.

View of Holland America Line Captain portrait.

“I think as a captain you wear many different hats. One minute I’m maneuvering the ship. The next minute I may be doing an inspection of a space on board. Then I may be on stage talking to guests. If there’s ever a medical emergency on board, then I’m working with coast guards, hospitals, fire services or other officials. Every cruise is completely different, and that’s one of the reasons I find my job so fulfilling and fascinating. There’s always that sense of adventure, interest and intrigue. It’s a fascinating job, and it allows me to cover a wide range of roles, which I personally really enjoy.”

So, what is it like to navigate a cruise ship?

“Cruise ships are very big,” he said with a smile, understanding why it may seem intimidating to maneuver. For him though, it’s as natural as driving a car. Well, sort of. He’s had years of training to get it right.

“This ship [the Eurodam] displaces over 45,000 tons of water. She’s 285 meters long, which is 936 feet. It’s a long, big vessel that you have to get around some narrow-type waterways. So, it keeps things very interesting,” he said. “It’s not just about looking at how big the ship is, but also what is the sea doing? What are the waters doing? What’s the current and wind doing? It takes planning, management, and a great navigation team. We all play a role together to safely navigate this ship from A to B. I think that’s another part of the job that’s great. It really is a team effort, and the team on the bridge is fantastic.”

Speaking of teamwork, that’s an area Holland America Line is well known for among guests and crew. Captain Mark knows this well, too.

View of Holland America Line crew beneath We Love Alaska signage.

Team members aboard the Eurodam gather for a group photo in May 2023.

“A ship is made by the people in it,” he said. “At the end of the day, you can have the most incredible ship, but if you don’t have the team to make it come alive, then it will just be a big steel box. At Holland America Line, we are very lucky to have such an amazing team; to have people that really care and want to do a great job.”

He also noted the importance of having programs in place to support employees with career progression, and the difference the company has made for those wanting to navigate careers with the cruise line. “People want to have a path to progress, feel valued and recognized. I think Holland America Line does a really great job of that, too. These are great things that keep people happy, and that’s what it’s all about – happy team, happy guests.”

View of Holland America Line captain and crew on deck in Alaska.

Captain Mark tests his photography skills with Staff Captain Jordi and Onboard Photographer Yoga before the group photo.

Captain Mark has a heart for our people, and he has bonded with many during our sailings. Although five years can go by before they cruise together again, they pick up right where they left off, reminiscing about their adventures. When he’s not busy working, he’s traveling with his family to embark on new adventures and make more memories.

“My wife and I are both avid travelers,” he said. “We spend as much time as we can traveling. We have a 16-month-old daughter, and she’s slowing us down just a little bit, but we’ve already taken her to Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia, Singapore, Canada, Greece, and Belgium to name a few. She’s a very well-traveled 16-month-old.”

If you were to ask Captain Mark about his favorite destinations, he would tell you it’s hard to choose.

“I don’t necessarily have a favorite one because every itinerary truly has something I enjoy doing. We just recently did the Panama cruise through the Panama Canal, which was fascinating. I personally find Central America to be just incredible. There’s a lot of stuff to do there that’s off the beaten track. And with Alaska, there’s the wildlife. You’re on the bridge sometimes and there are whales jumping left and right. There are bald eagles flying overhead, and then all of a sudden to your right, there’s a sea otter floating around. I love wildlife, and there are just some great opportunities to see that. Then there’s the Mediterranean – oh the food is incredible! And Northern Europe, you’re going to the Baltic and the Baltic countries are just beautiful. Going through the Norwegian fjords – breathtaking. And then Iceland…I could go on for hours!”

When Captain Mark talks about destinations and adventures, you quickly realize he could be a tour guide and vacation planner as a side gig. And speaking of vacation planning, he has a few tips to share.

“Travel is such a personal experience. I really think you should delve into all the places you can go. One of the great things about working for Holland America Line as opposed to some other cruise lines is our itineraries are so diverse. We have so much to offer. So, look at everything that’s available. Take in all that information, and see how you feel. What are you looking for and what adventure awaits you? Pluck it out because we offer it and you’re never going to forget it.”

Now for a Quick Cruise Q&A with Captain Mark:

Favorite meal on board: “It’s so tough because the culinary team do a brilliant job – they’re an amazing team. I love the homemade gelato on the pinnacle class – that’s just to die for.”

Favorite onboard activity: “I’ve heard the captain’s talks were fantastic, so probably that. Seriously though, you can never go wrong with any of the main headline show events. With so many options, how do you choose?!”

Favorite mascot: “I saw our new lion buddy! Obviously, Lewie would have to be at the top of the list, and if anyone from the Holland America Line shore team is reading this, I look forward to receiving one.”

Always the charming comedian, Captain Mark is!

Thank you for sharing your Holland America Line story with us, Captain Mark. We wish you a safe and pleasant journey to your next destination.


Join the Discussion

Leave A Comment

Sign up for special offers and announcements