Meet Spirit of Scotland Captain, Helen De Cent

New Zealand-born, Helen has had ample experience navigating Europe’s waterways. Having previously worked in France, she now takes the helm aboard the elegant Spirit of Scotland, traversing the Caledonian Canal and the Great Glen.

Spirit of Scotland Captain, Helen de Cent

How long have you worked for EW?

I believe it has been since 2008, with a few breaks in between!

Is it how you expected it to be?

Not at all, and I did not expect to still be in the industry all these years later, but it is still fun and I am always learning new things.

Spirit of Scotland crew -

What was your very first job?

I worked in a seafood restaurant near the beach in Nelson, New Zealand.

How did you get started in this line of work?

A friend mentioned she could get me a job on a river boat near Paris as a chef, I saw the Renaissance during those three months and the rest is history!

What are you most proud of about working for EW?

Making trips of a life time for people

Guests aboard the Spirit of Scotland

5 daily tasks / duties?

  1. Wiping down the boat first time in the morning
  2. Servicing the generators
  3. Presenting the barge to new clients
  4. Making coffee for the early birds and having a lovely chat with people one-to-one
  5. Introducing whisky to people at the bar.

Favourite region to cruise in?

The Canal du Midi

What makes your barge unique?

The living space inside and out, and the large windows that allow you to enjoy the view even in bad weather

Spirit of Scotland saloon

Do you look after the barge in the winter?

Yes, I do take care of Spirit during the winter, and being in Scotland the one thing that creates challenges is the weather !

Outside of the season, do you live on a boat?

Yes, while working on the barge we do live on board. But to do enjoying going home to see my Boyfriend and dog

Where did you grow up?

Nelson on New Zealand’s South Island

Nelson National Park, New Zealand

Do you miss any home comforts?

My dog and taking long showers

How do you spend your time when you’re not working?

I love travelling and going on camping adventures in my campervan!

What would you do if you weren't a barge Captain?

Who knows, maybe a long distance truck driver or a National Park Ranger. I believe you can be whatever you want to be. Who knew back in 2008 when I started with European Waterways as a Hostess that I would be a Barge Captain years later!

The Spirit of Scotland luxury hotel barge cruising the Caledonian Canal

Meet Captain Helen aboard the Spirit of Scotland

Discover wonders of the Caledonian Canal aboard the spacious 12-passenger Spirit of Scotland with Captain Helen and her fabulous crew.

View our Spirit of Scotland Classic Cruise itinerary here >

For help in planning your post-lockdown escape along Europe’s charming waterways, please talk to a member of our team or order a copy of our brochure.

Inspired? Visit our Special Offers page to further inspire your wanderlust. 

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