A Krafft Family Affair
| September 4, 2009
From left: Mikael, Anne, Marie and Eric Krafft.

From left: Mikael, Anne, Marie and Eric Krafft.

To hear Star Clippers founder Mikael Krafft tell it, he never thought his entire family would work at the line, but that’s what has happened over the years. Krafft’s wife Ann looks after quality control and manages the hotel directors and shipboard entertainment, son Eric, 34, supervises finances and daughter Marie, 30, is a director of sales.

“It’s an extra benefit that I didn’t expect,” said Mikael Krafft. “It was not intentional, but has been a pleasant surprise that my family has been interested in working in the business.”

When he started the company 20 years ago, his children were young and the family lived in Brussels. When the kids completed their baccalaureate studies, they were packed off to Stockholm to attend college and get back in touch with their Swedish roots. With the children out of the house, Ann — who Mikael describes as “a very keen sailor” — could turn her attention to the cruise line.

She began by handling the bookings of several hundred Krafft family friends who sail every year with Star Clippers, then gradually got more involved in the hotel and food and beverage operations. Today, she oversees hotel management and entertainment, going on board the ships to check everything from uniforms to food and service.

An interest in rocket engines resulted in an engineering degree for Eric Krafft. Following business school in London, he worked as an investment banker in London and New York, before becoming the Managing Owner of a China-based dry bulk shipping business.

Since 2006, Eric, a vice president in the Monaco headquarters, splits his time between Star Clippers and a real estate business.

Marie Krafft came to the company by way of the ships. She started working on board in the sports department and as a dive instructor, then worked her way up to purser, on to cruise director and finally as hotel manager.

“Marie was always sailing with me,” said Mikael Krafft. “When she started working on board, I never presumed that she would end up working with me.

“When she was 15, Marie told me that I was old and senile,” he continued with a laugh. “When she was 19 she told me, ‘You are still a little bit senile, but you’re improving.’ ”

Marie got an economics degree in Stockholm and then went to work for hotel chains Accor and Rocco Forte in Germany, before asking to return to the ships as cruise director.

“Somehow I had always had in my mind that I wanted to be a cruise director,” said Marie. “I like languages and working with many people — it’s good for your personality to stand in front of 170 people and speak to them in three different languages.”

In June 2008, an internal restructuring of the line’s sales and marketing department created an opportunity for Marie to translate her work on board into a sales position at the line’s Monaco headquarters. Her ability to speak English, Swedish, French and German comes in handy, as she is in charge of sales in the Benelux region, France, Spain, Italy and Scandinavia.

The Krafft family not only works together, they live together, sort of. Star Clippers’ headquarters is in a remodeled old hotel. Mikael and Ann have a penthouse on the top floors, while Eric and Marie each have an apartment in the building.

Asked whether there are challenges to working and living so closely, Mikael Krafft waxes philosophically.

“When I started Star Clippers, it was not the only company I had,” he said. “But over the years, Star Clippers became not so much a company as a lifestyle for us. It’s not just a company, it’s something we like to do; we’re all interested in sailing and shipping.

“I really think about it more as a hobby than a business, which is why it’s hard to separate the business from the lifestyle,” said Mikael Krafft.

The rest of the family agrees.

“We enjoy the work and especially sharing our passion for sailing,” said Ann Krafft.

Marie echoes that sentiment: “It always comes back to the point where you love this product. I grew up sailing and even taught it in Sweden,” she said. “I have sailing in my blood, and I’m used to working together with my father on sailboats. It’s actually quite fun.”

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19 Comments »

  1. fred parle Said,

    July 29, 2010 @ 6:09 am

    wow ! what a real family story like a happy fairytail. and to think that i was part of it all those years ago as chief engineer on stat clipper. life is so full of surprises boss , i remember vividly diving overboard to “lifesave” Captain ? that little angry parrot ! and getting a Gong at Friday nights Cabaret presented by Capt Likstrum and made by od friend Hans. God be with the days, Now when i gaze into the eyes of my daughter in law Linda from Stockholm and hear her twinkling Sveeditch accent I know that Im part Swedish too.

  2. Matt Said,

    April 2, 2011 @ 2:48 pm

    You said…

    “I have sailing in my blood, and I’m used to working together with my father on sailboats. It’s actually quite fun.”

    I share the same bond with my father. So nice to read this post!

  3. Driscoll Said,

    April 7, 2011 @ 5:43 am

    I just pleased to read your post about great Family Affair. Everybody must learn something from the people like Mikael, Anne, Marie and Eric Krafft. Wish you more happiness in future.

  4. Calabria property for sale Said,

    April 9, 2011 @ 4:14 am

    I truly admire and like a bond family. It is a real blessing to have an established home with a host family. Great work. Thanks for sharing such a great post!

  5. Colin Said,

    April 10, 2011 @ 6:36 pm

    “Loving what you do and doing what you love.” We all envy the Krafft family for having this. Getting up every morning and looking forward to enjoy one’s “work” – priceless!

    Colin
    Thousand Oaks Property Management

  6. Harry Parker Said,

    April 12, 2011 @ 10:59 pm

    They are truly a great family worthy to be admired by all families. It’s amazing how they are keeping their bond.

  7. Madelyn (Burns) Rich Said,

    September 7, 2011 @ 11:25 am

    I worked with Mikael as the Director of Passenger Services for Star Clippers from Aug 91 – Dec 95. Putting together the packages for the Pre/Post Cruises in France/Italy/Greece/Turkey, and the Caribbean,
    along with reporting the reservation sales in both Europe and the US on a weekly basis. I sailed those seas many times on the Star Clipper and Star Flyer while working with groups and/or charters. Eric and Marie were very young when I first met them and they were the most delightful well behaved children I ever met. Ann was a sheer delight! She was like the glue that held it all together and raised two beautiful children. Mikael had more energy than anyone I ever met! He would travel to the US and work non stop for the entire time he was at the Miami office. Recently my brother and his family were on the Star Clipper sailing the MED, and he told me stories of how he met Marie and how amazing she was and how you could tell that she loved every minute she was onboard! This truly was Mikael’s dream that he turned into reality. I will always cherish the time I spent working at Star Clippers as it was one of the most exciting times of my life. I left only to return home to family, and now I have my own travel agency and talk about Star Clippers to anyone who will listen. My best to this wonderful family! Someday I will return to sail those seas that I loved so much as a paying guest. The ships are impecably beautiful sailing vessels, with an extremely high repeat guest factor. A cruise line that is developed out of love for sailing, with people onboard to make your trip with them an absolute wonderful adventure you will want to repeat again and again. Treat yourself to one of their sailings and believe me you will talk about it as one of your favorites for a very long time! Much Luck & Love to all!

  8. alain caris-reynders Said,

    February 13, 2012 @ 2:51 am

    I have got the pleasure to be hired directly by Ann & Mikael as Cruise Director for Star Clippers in 1998-1999
    It has been such a great time that I came back… as passenger
    And now, I’m intending to propose Star Clippers to my clients, being specialized on Tailor-made Cultural Trips to Russia and neighbour countries, as well as on VIP Cultural Trips arround the world.
    Alain Caris-Reynders
    RTA EAST-WEST Belgium

  9. Thomas Richter (Hamburg) Said,

    June 17, 2012 @ 1:49 am

    Hallo Herr Krafft,
    haben Sie noch Visionen?
    Wäre es nicht eine Herausforderung , einen sechs Mast Segelschoner zu bauen?
    Wie zu Beispiel die “Addie M. Lawrence”
    Da Sie so phantastische Schiffe gebaut haben, halte ich Sie als Einziger für fähig ein solches Schiff zu bauen und zu vermarkten.
    Ein Großschoner würde sich auch gut in Ihrer Flotte machen.
    Vielleicht haben Sie ja eine ähnliche Vision!!!
    Mit freundlichen Grüßen
    Tho.Richter

  10. Tom and Sylvia LARRAD Said,

    July 2, 2012 @ 8:19 am

    We have just returned from our first cruise EVER (star flyer Athens to Istanbul Jume) I am 60 this year and we have been married 40 yrs so we wanted to celebrate. What a truly fantastic time we had. The crew were marvellous and Peter the cruise director made the whole thing so memorable. The food was interesting with plenty of choice. We felt so safe and our every need was catered for nothing seemed too much trouble. We came back with the video and van belies CD. I think on any further celebration star clippers will be our choice. Thank you for letting us share your beautiful ship for an ” ordinary couple” like ourselves it was such a truly amazing experience. THANK YOU to all your family

  11. Julie Said,

    July 3, 2012 @ 7:08 am

    Thank you for sharing! If you have any photos from your trip, we’d love to use them on the blog. info@starclippersblog.com.

  12. George Crimmins Said,

    August 13, 2012 @ 7:51 am

    My wife Ellen and I just returned from a Venice to Athens Star Clipper Cruise. While on board we had the pleasure to meet Mikael and his wife. Both spent 2 days cruising, meeting the passengers and evaluating the ship’s personnel. What a simple, hands on way to run a business. This is typical of what is lacking on the big cruies lines. Mikael, if you read this blog, thank you for being a personable CEO and allowing us the pleasure of cruising on Star Clipper.

  13. James Atkinson Said,

    October 29, 2012 @ 4:49 am

    M. Krafft Esq

    Dear Sir,

    We had the pleasure of a cruise from Lisbon to Malaga recently on the Star Clipper, and several years ago on the Royal Clipper in the Caribbean, what a wonderful idea you had!

    After boarding the boat in Lisbon, I was looking around when an American said, ‘Well gee you’ve got a nice boat here!’ I assumed he was talking about the European way of doing things, perhaps compared to the U.S.

    A day or two later I was sat enjoying the ambience when Xemia came to sit next to me; (Xemia is a real jewel in your crown). I do not think that she had met Mikael Krafft, but she said, ‘Mr Atkinson there is a rumour going round the boat, that the owner is on board and that you are he.’ I assured her I was not but perhaps wished I was and we had a laugh!

    Returning home I had a look at your website and one of my daughters in particular could see a strong resemblance with you, it may have been the hair but I had to smile.

    In the next year or two we hope to look round a few Greek Islands, Sardinia, Corsica and ‘Porto Fino’ etc. Where do people from the South of France go on holiday?
    Each year we spend a week on the ‘Hebridean’ boat on and around the west coast of Scotland. It is also a niche place and exceptional, just like yours. Obtain a brochure; it may give you some ideas!

    All the best for the future, from J.S. & D.M. Atkinson

  14. Hazel Williamson Said,

    April 13, 2014 @ 2:10 pm

    I have been on 5 Star clipper holidays. I am hoping to go again soon. I love the clippers, the crew are fantastic! Every experience on the ships is wonderful, especially the music and sailing. I met you a few years ago on the Royal Clipper in Dubrovnik,you have a lovely family. Keep up the good work,best wishes to you all. Hazel Williamson.

  15. Julie Camfield-baker Said,

    August 10, 2014 @ 5:40 am

    This was the 1st on royal clipper always been on big cruise ships, that has now ended we will be back next year on star clippers had a great trip met mikeal and Anne on board lovely people loved everything about it so relaxed and had a feeling of a big family cannot praise the whole experience more

    See you next year

  16. Kiran Said,

    December 1, 2014 @ 11:39 am

    Working on these ‘Wow’ Tall ships as Chief Engineer, was a Unique experience for me. The ships are in Top shape as Krafft Family gets fully involved with quality and upkeep checks, on their regular visits to ships. The ambience all around onboard is warm and friendly.
    Going great Guys.

  17. Hazel Williamson Said,

    January 23, 2015 @ 5:22 pm

    Looking forward to going on the Royal next week. This will be my 7th trip on star cliippers, I love every moment on board the captains and crew are wonderful. I would love to go on your new ship. Have you a date for the Maiden voyage? You are a great family and bring so much pleasure to hundreds of people. Keep up with the good work , kind regards, Hazel Williamson.

  18. Sigrid Wikdahl Said,

    March 7, 2017 @ 9:40 am

    Hej Ann o Mikael Krafft!

    Undertecknad som skriver några rader till er är dotter till Liesbeth “Lisa” Wikdahl.
    Vill bara berätta att mamma fortfarande lever och mår efter omständigheterna bra. Hon är fortfarande klar i huvudet och minns er med glädje. Sedan 1 år tillbaka bor hon på ett seniorboende i Nacka.

    Med vänlig hälsning
    Sigrid “Lulla” Löfquist-Wikdahl

  19. Fred Parle Said,

    March 10, 2019 @ 9:20 am

    addressed to Mikael Krafft , I would like to say that now 78 years young that Star Clipper as Chief Engineer was my most memorable vessel in my 61 years from Engineer Cadetship .
    I have a BUCKET list Wish to revisit that now veteran and lovely Ship once again .
    How to earn my keep ? I still have my Licences and seagoing still occupies me , whenever I can be given a berth .
    Of course I could regale the Passengers at Cabaret about my 47 Dasys with an AK47 to my head on one of Maersk Line owned Tugboats off the Somali Coast . Im writing my Autobiography presently and wouldn’t it be lovely to have my last Voyage on my old love , MSV STAR CLIPPER .
    If this short nostalgic note is seen by any of my old shipmates , i send warmest greetings ,nd to Ann and Mikael , my endless thanks .

    Slan agus Beannacht ,
    Freddie Parle ex Chief Enginerer Star Clipper ……….when she was new .

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