From Truro to touring the rivers of Europe

By John and Sandra Nowlan

Published on May 30, 2014

Steve Marchant was bitten by the hospitality bug while travelling the globe

He’s a Truro native who graduated from Cobequid Educational Centre and left for Dalhousie University with his sights on an engineering career. But, as often happens in life, he had a 180-degree shift and now works as a cruise director on Europe’s top riverboat line.


Steve Marchant got the hospitality bug while working off his Dal tuition at the Clipper Cay Restaurant in Halifax. After graduation he moved to Vancouver and started travelling in earnest. Twenty-five countries later, with much touring experience under his belt, he started a career as tour director. He worked in the Caribbean and then for Celebrity Cruise Lines for two years. Then, seven years ago, a friend recommended Tauck and Marchant has been part of North America’s oldest touring company ever since.


Tauck began offering escorted land tours in 1925 and, after many years and many awards, has cemented its reputation as the best in the business. With no advertising, Tauck’s success is built on repeat customers and word of mouth. In 2006, loyal customers requested that the company enter the European river cruise market. Competent, organized friendly people with a flair for travel and hospitality were hired as tour directors on the ships. People like Marchant. He was soon promoted to the top position as cruise director, co-ordinating the work of the tour directors and being the key liaison person for all the guests.


We met Marchant on the inaugural cruise of Tauck’s sixth and most innovative river cruise ship, MS Inspire. We were just two of 120 guests for this Netherlands and Belgium cruise and Marchant greeted us, as he did everyone, as we boarded in Amsterdam. When we introduced ourselves as being from Nova Scotia, he did a double take and said with a big grin, “Well, so am I. Welcome aboard.”


As we learned over the next nine days, Marchant’s personality is a perfect fit for his job as cruise director. Marchant works on the vessel with three full-time tour directors (other river cruise boats have just one) to plan itineraries at each stop and brief guests on what to expect. One emotional tour that Marchant planned for us was to the Red Star Line Museum in Antwerp, Belgium. This is the “other end” of Pier 21 in Halifax, where, from 1873 to 1935, two million Europeans started their long Atlantic journey to Nova Scotia or Ellis Island.


Marchant’s job involves two to three months of working every day, then a two to three week vacation. And then it’s home.

“Absolutely,” he said about remaining connected to the Truro area. “My parents and my sister are still in Truro and it’s important to return to my roots every chance I get.”



John and Sandra Nowlan are travel writers based in Halifax.