A FACE YOU MAY WELL KNOW – CHRISTOPHER WEEKSWednesday 20th April 2011
Christopher Weeks is a familiar face to many, whether behind the counter at the airport or guiding a snorkelling trip on Adventure Antigua.
Christopher was born in Antigua in 1981 and was raised and educated here. As a student, he loved to escape the books and head down to Antigua Yacht Club where he learned how to sail with Karl James and Ashley Rhodes, graduating with both a helmsman and mate certificate. Chris’ father was an engineer, first mate and then captain on cargo freighters so the sea is in his blood.
After high school Chris headed to Wales, UK for two more years of education before returning to the Antiguan work force. During the summer holidays over the course of these two years, Chris returned to Antigua and worked at Sunsail Club Colona as an activities assistant with the younger generation of guests. This included taking them swimming, sailing, on trips around the island, giving sailing lessons, and various other hotel activities. When the two years in Wales were over Chris started a permanent job with Sunsail with the same responsibilities which provided him with his introduction to the customer service industry.
After a slow summer season in 2000, Chris was laid off and soon found himself behind the counter at the airport working for Caribbean Star Airlines as a Customer Service agent. His responsibilities included ticketing/sales, reservations, check-in and baggage reclaim. After only a year, Chris unofficially became an assistant supervisor for his shift and was trained in security procedures, aircraft checks and hazardous materials identification and handling. This was a very exciting time for Chris in a professional environment meeting new people every day and welcoming back frequent flyers. He spent four years at the airport and loved every minute of it.
Eventually Chris was promoted to head office where he became the coordinator for the World Tracer baggage system used to trace and track baggage regionally and across other airlines worldwide. He was also trained in fraudulent baggage claims pertaining to contents and imitation baggage brands for Louis Vuitton, Coach, Gucci, etc. That training took Chris to Montreal, Canada which he found to be a very beautiful city. He would love to explore more of Canada.
After two years at head office came the news that Caribbean Star was shutting down and Chris was severed on July 21, 2007. He took two weeks off to visit family and during that time he received job offers from four different tour guide companies. He weighed his options and finally accepted a job with Adventure Antigua and started work on the 15th of August.
This new job was completely different from Chris’ previous positions. Adventure Antigua does circumnavigation tours on the sea as well as sailing tours and ecology tours up to the north sound area of Antigua. In this job Chris has varied responsibilities - acting as tour guide, snorkel guide and assistant skipper (he’s working towards his day skipper certificate and hopes to move up from there), assisting in reservations, maintenance work on boats including engines, sanding, painting, polishing and repairs. Chris is excited by the opportunity to learn from some very experienced skippers.
Chris loves being on the water. He learned to swim at a very young age and loves being outdoors where he can enjoy the beautiful sea, sun and white sandy beaches. Helping tourists to explore Antigua and spreading his knowledge of the island where he grew up is very satisfying so the job with Adventure Antigua is ideal for him. He has an opportunity to meet new people from all over the world on a daily basis, many of whom are very surprised at how developed the small island of Antigua is.
While the landscape is the same on every tour, it’s the different things that Chris experiences every day that make his job exciting – looking for recent turtle tracks, helping straggler hatchlings into the water, whales breaching having fun, Bottle Nose Dolphins playing with Spinner Dolphins and birds such as terns, seagulls, pelicans and frigate birds migrating to the offshore islands to nest. Even jellyfish season makes life interesting.
Meeting people from around the world has been enlightening for Chris and he has learned a lot about different cultures. For example, he finds that Italians like a lot of sun but don’t like ice in their drinks. The English like a glass of water when they first get on board. Americans are interested in the ins and outs of the boat they are on including engine size, make of boat, fishing capabilities, etc. The Swiss are solely interested in snorkelling while the Chinese take plenty of pictures. Chris has learned something interesting from everyone he’s encountered over the years.
When not busy with Adventure Antigua, Chris enjoys hiking, operating construction equipment, scuba diving (he’s a certified open water diver and studying for his advanced certificate), snorkelling, photography and even flight school which helps with his passion for whale watching!
In August Chris will celebrate four years with Adventure Antigua and even though he sees and does a lot of the same things every day, he tries not to take anything for granted. For many people, Antigua is the first country they have visited away from home and Chris strives to make it a positive experience for everyone. He says, “We Antiguans need to remember that tourism is our main industry and we need to start treating each other as equals and know that common courtesy, respect and professionalism go a long way amongst ourselves and towards bringing people back to visit our little bit of Paradise, because that is what it is. Customer Service is the KEY!”
Article by Kathy Lammers with assistance from Christopher Weeks.
Photos compliments of Christopher Weeks.
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