Cruise Staff

On your cruise, you will have the services of a full-time western cruise director and a river guide, who will provide interesting lectures about China and the Yangtze, and narrative about the sights along the river. In addition, our well-trained and accommodating local staff will make you feel right at home. It's our service that makes the difference!

  • Desislava “Dessy” Todorova

    Desislava “Dessy” Todorova

    Born and raised in Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria, Dessy’s first job was as a barista and waitress.  She later continued gaining experience in the area of services.  Prior to joining Victoria Cruises, Dessy was a Project Engineer in the field of building automation, living and working in an international environment with a multicultural team. 
    Dessy is graduate mechanical engineer. She speaks English and French, and has a working knowledge of Russian and Spanish.
    Her greatest passion is traveling and unfolding the diversity of cultures around the world. Her work as Cruise Director affords Dessy the advantage of meeting people from all over the world. 
    As Cruise Director, Dessy tries her best to assure an excellent standard of on board service by providing personal attention to each guest and a pleasant environment.  

  • Richard Carpentier

    Richard Carpentier

    With nearly three decades of experience sailing onboard cruise ships and now Victoria Cruises river boats in China, Dick is a seasoned veteran of the waters of the world.

    Having visited over ninety ports worldwide and spending his career on over twenty-nine ships, he still finds the lifestyle of a mariner to be fun, exciting, and at times challenging.

    Dick worked over the years with Norwegian Cruise Lines, Royal Caribbean, Royal Viking, Commodore Cruises, Epirotiki and many others. One of the highlights of his career was in being the first Cruise Director on the S.S. Norway , formerly S.S. France and implementing the programming and activities for this fabulous lady of the high seas.

    Dick has lived in Asia for over eleven years, and finds the opportunity to work onboard Victoria’s vessels on the Yangtze River a privilege and a pleasure. The year 2014 brings Dick into his eleventh year with Victoria Cruises. Having worked on all seven Victoria boats, he has had the opportunity to view the changing Yangtze and its environs, its people, its magnificent Three Gorges, and most of all the sincerity and commitment that all of the crew members of Victoria dedicate to the guests onboard.

    Dick’s goals onboard are to exceed the expectations of Victoria’s guests, by presenting them with excellent service, unexpected quality entertainment, and to pass on his knowledge of the cultural differences and similarities of the West and the East that are a simple, yet complex, ever changing part of the Yangtze River and of China.

  • Michael Darby

    Michael Darby

    Or simply "Darby" as he is known by friends, was born in Lancaster Pennsylvania, but now hails from a houseboat on the Colorado River just above the Hoover Dam near Las Vegas Nevada.

    Darby earned a B.S. in both Hospitality & Hotel/Restaurant Administration from Johnson & Wales University in Providence Rhode Island. Upon graduating, Darby embarked on his cruise career aboard the Mississippi Queen paddle wheel cruise ship plying the great rivers of the American Heartland. 

    He has over twenty years progressive management experience in a diverse arena of multicultural and international shipboard endeavors emphasizing professional growth while fostering his passion for travel. Subsequent positions include Chief Purser and Hotel Director aboard large ship cruise lines like Regency, Renaissance, NCL and Commodore. While challenging, these increasingly larger ships only served to reinforce the advantages of smaller more intimate cruising platforms. Darby cites some of these small vessel benefits as mobility, flexibility, relaxed pace, connectivity to native cultures, nature, scenic advantages and regional flavor. Focusing on this segment of inland, river, and costal cruising, Darby’s most recent appointments include the Columbia River and Sea of Cortez with Lindblad Expeditions, Hudson River and ICW with American Cruise Lines, and the Inside Passage aboard Glacier Bay Tours & Cruises, and Alaskan Dream Cruises.

    Darby enthusiastically anticipates the opportunity to leverage his experience and expertise combined with an outstanding accompaniment of professional crew to welcome you aboard, exceed your expectations, and make you feel at home on the Yangtze too. 

  • Marion Gaston

    Marion Gaston

    Born and brought up in Germany, Marion spent several years in England, where she passed her Cambridge exam in English, and then moved to New York; here she was a daycare center administrator for seventeen years. She then began her career in travel as a tour manager for American Express, traveling throughout North America and the world in the late 1980's. She was elected Chairman for North America of the International Association of Tour Managers, serving for six years, and arranging a couple of the organization's annual conventions. In the 1990's, Marion worked for a variety of tour companies, traveling mainly with incoming guests to the United States and Canada. Marion joined Victoria Cruises in 2002 as cruise director, and has had experience on several of Victoria's ships.

  • Ernie Kemm

    Ernie Kemm

    Ernie Kemm has worked nearly three decades on the Yangtze River. Born in Albuquerque, New Mexico, he earned a B.A. and M.A. from the University of New Mexico. He came to China to work for Lindblad Travel in 1985, as a pianist/entertainer and assistant to the cruise director, spending three years on the Kunlun, Chairman Mao's state ship, and two years (1987-1989) on the Bashan. He continued working on the Bashan for Abercrombie & Kent until 1993, and joined Victoria Cruises in its inaugural year (1994). In his previous career in the entertainment field, he was a ragtime pianist, composer, and opened the nightclub "The Back Door", in Denver, Colorado, where Judy Collins played her first professional engagement. His nightclub act with Al Fike, "The Modern Minstrel Man", played some of the top rooms across the country from Florida to Las Vegas. Solo engagements at several clubs in New York included twelve years at Mrs. J's Sacred Cow. Engagements at sea included Celebrity Cruises, Sitmar, Royal Caribbean, and Cunard (Countess, Princess and the QE 2). He studied at H.B. Studios and with Broadway and tv star Charles Nelson Reilly, and Tony Award-winning composer Albert Hague among others. He was winner of Colorado's Bicentennial Song Contest ("Here's To Colorado"), and was recipient of the "Confetti" award for best performance in Charles Nelson Reilly's off-Broadway production "Confetti".

  • Molly McBride

    Molly McBride

    Molly was raised along the Mississippi River and, like this iconic river, has followed a path of diversity & adventure.  She received her BA in Communication from the University of Colorado, Boulder, and her career has included working in the fitness, hospitality & entertainment industries. She has followed her passion & profession through the streets of New York City to the boulevards of France to the esplanades of Southeast Asia.  Molly is thrilled to have been able to live & work along the world’s most enchanting & chronicled rivers: The Mississippi, The Mekong, The Ayeyarwady and The Yangtze. Molly loves the "step" workouts she gets in China, and encourages guests to experience all the treasures China has to offer: the food, the scenery, the people.  Working for Victoria Cruises has allowed her to share the splendor and majesty of the Yangtze River with people from all over the globe.  We look forward to sharing our home & hospitality with you, Bon Voyage!

  • Mirza Natasuria

    Mirza Natasuria

    Born in Indonesia, Mirza's educational credentials include a B. Sc. in Industrial Technology, an M.B.A., a Graduate Certificate in International Business, and an M.Sc in Computer Science.

    His interests include traveling, tennis, swimming, and reading.

    Mirza has an abiding interest in the people of China, and aims to offer passengers the most memorable travel experience of their lives.

River Guides

  • Cathy Huang

    Cathy Huang

    Born and raised in the Three Gorges region, Cathy has worked for Victoria Cruises for twelve years. She has an intimate knowledge of the lifestyle of the people living along the Yangtze, and has observed the changes taking place here. She has a keen interest in the Three Gorges Dam project, and enjoys communicating with guests on a variety of topics. She likes to share her experience with passengers, and bring them a pleasurable and informative journey.

  • Daniel Li

    Daniel Li

    Hometown: Chongqing

    Number of years with Victoria: Fifteen

    What I try to offer passengers: An interesting perspective relative to the ancient and modern China, as China moves its people and country into a new era of exciting challenges, and I also relate to passengers the impact on the Yangtze River

    What I enjoy about working on the Yangtze: Meeting guests from around the world, and introducing the fast-changing China, its people, and the Yangtze to them.

  • Three Shi

    Three Shi

    Born in the city of Yichang, site of the Three Gorges Dam. I graduated from the University of Yichang, and then served in the Chinese army for three years. When I left the army, I became teacher in the Policeman's School of Yichang.

    Number of Years with Victoria: Ten (I started as receptionist, and was later promoted to Front Desk Supervisor, then Operations Manager. In 2010, I was asked to be a River Guide.)

    What I try to offer passengers and enjoy about working on the Yangtze: As a river guide, I have enjoyed being with passengers and providing information about the Yangtze and Three Gorges Dam. I also enjoy pointing out and discussing the various interesting sights along the river, and making passengers feel at home in my country and on our ship.

  • Bobo Wu

    Born in Szechuan Province. Attended university in Chongqing in the 1990's.

    Number of years with Victoria: Eight (Has worked on the Yangtze for fourteen years)

    What I try to offer passengers: Since I have seen the changes that have occurred in the Three Gorges and in the people's lives over the years, I endeavor to convey this to passengers.

    What I enjoy about working on the Yangtze: I enjoy relating to the passengers from different countries. I hear their ideas, and also have been able to improve my English.

  • Luther Zou

    Luther Zou

    Born in Shuangshi, a small town in the Chongqing municipality.

    Number of years with Victoria: Eight

    What I try to offer passengers: During my presentations, I always try to provide information, entertainment and outstanding service to all our passengers.

    What I enjoy about working on the Yangtze: I enjoy sharing my knowledge of the magnificent Yangtze River, my beautiful country-China, and personal life experiences from the countryside to river wide. I am looking forward to meeting you in the near future and sharing a wonderful voyage.

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