I was born in Detroit, Michigan, and grew up there. I always wanted to travel and meet a diverse group of people, and working with Carnival has helped me do that. I started in 2007 as part of the entertainment staff, and then assistant cruise director, and now cruise director.
I’m the face and voice of the ship – I host the deck parties, help with the onboard programming schedule, do Zumba class and veteran’s appreciation for those vets on board.
Even before I came on the ship, I always liked working with people. That’s very important for hospitality. I’ve also done theater since I was little, so I’m comfortable talking on stage and in front of big crowds. As entertainment staff, you have to do everything for everyone in the department. As an assistant cruise director, there are more middle management duties. Once I became the cruise director, I had to hone in on the managerial details.
Over time you learn that for different home ports and different clientele, you have to provide different entertainment. If we have bad weather and miss a port, you have to come up with a day-at-sea schedule on the spot. Once you’ve done those things a few times, you know what to do, but it helps to be exposed to those situations so you can handle them better.
We work 70 hours a week, with entertainment and planning and scheduling. There are a lot of staff members from India, Indonesia, and the Philippines. We recruit many Europeans, as well.
As cruise director, I use a microphone because I’m talking all of the time. All of the technical things make us look better, so we have high-definition cameras, huge lights and sound systems, and that’s all important for my job. Our newest ship that just launched has an IMAX theater on board, and larger-than-life TV-game shows. Things have changed for the better – now we are way more family oriented than cruise ships used to be. We have a sky course, sky-ride, and lots of fun games.
In my eight years, I’ve only seen one man go overboard. We’ve had medical situations, and the Coast Guard will come out and provide medical care. We’ve had to divert to different ports of call to get someone to a medical facility.
We were sailing out of Baltimore on the Carnival Pride, and there was a 92-year-old guest with us. We had a lip-sync party and he was given “I’m Too Sexy” to sing. He was loving it and dancing and taking his shirt off, and he got so excited that he dropped to the floor. So we relocated the party to a different area, got the medical team there in two minutes, and got him airlifted off in a helicopter. He ended up being okay, and I sent a DVD of his dance at the party and he loved it.
It’s like a floating city. If everything goes like it should, I wake up at 6:30 a.m., check my emails, host a morning show at 9:30, read dedication letters, and then host the Fun-Ashore, Fun-Aboard presentation. After lunch, I go to leader deck and host a master mixology session, and then go with the kids and do Dr. Seuss at Sea, and then we have bingo or music trivia in the afternoon.
Usually the first sea day is “Elegant Night” where we introduce our staff and have a big show in the theater. The bands are playing, and we do giveaways and comedy. And that’s one day, 6:30 a.m. to 11 p.m.
I really don’t have a day off, not with my job. Some do, like the performers in the show have a day off and the spa people can also, but that’s really it for a full day off. On sea days it’s busier for us than port days, because on port days the guests will disembark the ship and then we’ll welcome them back at the end of the day.
You still should have fun – or look like it – or else you’ll be miserable. There are times to be professional, and there are times to enjoy the crew activities. My job is to be the center of the party so I need to have fun so the guests can, too. There are alcohol limits for us on board so we can be ready to respond at any minute. You can have one or two drinks, but that’s it.
The towel animals are learned from practice. The housekeeping staff will do it and pass it on, and there’s a book that references how to make each of the towel animals. Same thing with the fruit; there are usually two or three staff members on board who do all of the carving for fruit and ice. Those people have special skills and that’s why they were hired.
English is the required and primary language on board. We have a crew training center and ESL classes for our crew members to help new crew members improve their English. It’s funny that everyone teaches you the bad words in their languages first!
I love traveling and meeting people all over the world. I like helping my entertainment staff grow and become better. I’ve seen many places, and I’m able to save a lot of money because I don’t have many expenses.
I’ve done the whole Caribbean, Europe (three times), South America, the Baltic and the Mediterranean. I just came from Australia, and I’ll be going to Alaska soon. I collect a magnet from each place I visit.
I really like helping other people. Although I never became a social worker like I wanted to when I was in college, I realized that I’m helping the guests and the people I work with have a fun time, and that’s what is most important for me.
Our home office is here in Miami, so it’s a huge part of our atmosphere on board. We’re always corresponding with Miami while at sea. Miami is different from the rest of the States because of the Latin population, and the diversity of Miami is important. This is the most popular cruise port for Carnival and having the office here makes me want to live in Miami and stay here longer.
I think Miami is the diversity, the music, the culture, South Beach. It’s an iconic place, and no matter where you travel in the world, people want to visit Miami. These aspects influence the cruise industry and Miami the city and make them special and unique.