Humans of Hornblower: Jeanne Fleming, First Officer
HEALING HANDS ON DECK
When Jeanne Fleming was working in theater in New York, she never knew she’d one day serve as First Officer at Hornblower Cruises & Events on the California coast.
Jeanne decided to spend a summer in Alaska for a change of pace- but never returned to her New York apartment. She spent the next couple of years working and living aboard boats, and falling in love with being on the water.
“The deckhand on my first boat gave me brilliant advice, which I use to this day. He said, ‘Don’t forget to stop what you’re working on and just look around.”
Jeanne decided to move to California. “I lived on boats for a couple of years, but missed having an apartment in a big city- so I chose San Diego.”
Jeanne arrived in Southern California as a licensed Merchant Mariner but decided to find a nursing program, “To have in my back pocket,” she says. Jeanne is now a registered nurse, and works at Sharp Grossmont Hospital in the cardiac unit- and she’s a First Officer with Hornblower Cruises and Events San Diego.
What’s a typical day like for her?
“When I get to work, I say hello to people- and then I say hello to the boat. I walk the interior and exterior decks, inspecting for safety and cleanliness. I say hello to the engines and generators, and walk around the engine room- always looking, listening, smelling. My favorite part is the reverent quiet of the wheelhouse. Being on the water is a powerful thing.”
Jeanne’s favorite yacht in San Diego’s Hornblower fleet is Admiral Hornblower, though High Spirits comes in a strong second.
“Admiral is stout, but still pretty and boaty. High Spirits is intriguing with her history, Prohibition compartments, and the stories that swirl about ghost sightings!”
Jeanne’s most memorable Hornblower experience so far? “A few years ago, we took Adventure up to the waters off Camp Pendleton and got to witness and participate in some drills with the U.S. Marines. We saw some exotic weapons, vessels, and uniforms.”
Even with two incredible careers, Jeanne still finds the time and energy to volunteer with The Thousand Smiles Foundation.
“I travel to Ensenada, Mexico four times a year with American volunteer surgeons, anesthesiologists, residents, and nurses to treat children with cleft lips and cleft palates. Maxillofacial surgeons are total rock stars!”
As if that isn’t enough to cram her calendar, Jeanne is trying to do even more volunteer work.
“My goal is to insinuate myself onto USNS Mercy, a naval hospital ship in San Diego Bay. I’m fine-tuning how to sell myself as a volunteer nurse for one of their humanitarian aid missions for the U.S. Navy.”
So, what makes working at Hornblower so pleasurable?
“I enjoy being able to provide time on the water to people who might not get to experience it often. I enjoy being part of the overall experience for the guests, and being part of an ensemble. My co-workers give and give. I see it everyday. Whether it’s being patient with a passenger or being empathetic with a co-worker, these people are the salt of the earth.”