Tell us about your roles as the Cruise Director and the Activities Manager:
Alejandro: Well, we both work very closely with one another. The Cruise Director is in charge of the entertainment and is also the visible face for the entire ship. The Cruise Director gets the opportunity, the great chance to get up on the stage every night to introduce the shows, welcome the guests. But it is not just about the entertainment, it is about being the face of the cruise as I am the communicator of everything that happens on board. Whether it’s a show or a port of call, where we arriving, what time we have to be back etc. I love my job and it gives me the chance to interact with the guests. Hospitality is an industry which attracts people who like people, so personally I feel I have the best job in the world.
Esperanza: The Activities Manager is in charge of all the activities from the daily activities to the fun game shows, parties and all that. I work very closely with the Cruise Director in assisting them in anything that has to do with the entertainment.
How did you come about working on a cruise ship and was it an easy transition from working ashore to working at sea?
Alejandro: I had a dream of travelling around the world and working in all different hotels. So after graduating in Tourism & Hotel Management, I started travelling. So I went to Brazil, Mexico and the United States, I worked in different hotels, always in the entertainment department. My experiences in Cancun, Mexico were so much fun that I decided that I wanted to do the same thing on a ship that would allow me to continue to travel to places that I would never be able to get to if I was on land. The kind of job is exactly the same from a resort, beach resort to the job that we have to do here aboard a ship.
Esperanza: I think that it all comes down to your personality; you definitely have to be people person and not want privacy because you are never alone. You’ll either love it or hate it and know within the first month of working on board. I got into working on a cruise ship since I am from Vancouver and being a port it receives a large number of cruise calls a year.
What does a typical working day for both of you consist of?
Alejandro: With me, it is usually being with the guests. Like I said, welcoming guests in the theatre, being at the gangway when the guests leave and when they return. So my role is being with the guests, a lot. Organising fun activities is what both Esperanza and I love to do.
Esperanza: For me, doing the daily program, schedules for me, planning the next day in advance or in fact the next month. Ultimately I am in charge of the Cruise Director’s Staff, so I have to make sure they are where they are supposed to be and overseeing their duties. I’m also in charge of the other things that aren’t usually mentioned such as tendering and other important duties.
Working aboard a cruise ship must be very fun but also quite challenging at times. What would you say is the best and worst parts about working aboard a “floating resort”?
Alejandro: The best part has to be interacting with the guests and the worst part; well I can’t really see anything bad with my job, apart from the occasional day when you miss your friends and family.
Esperanza: For me, it is that we are the ones to make sure that you, as the guest are having a great time. So who could have a better job than that? I mean it is a lot of work but at the same time, it is what we love to do. For me, everyday does not feel like work. Ultimately I am dancing, ensuring the guests the happy and it’s wonderful. The hardest part would probably be away from friends and family. Even though you can keep in contact with them, you have the odd day when you miss your mum, sister or friend but other than that I can’t really see anything else. I love excitement; I love the fact that we are changing every day so I don’t really get bored with that.
It’s great that your roles allow you to interact with guests. What has to be one of your favourite events that you offer on board and why?
Alejandro: I enjoy the dance classes, teaching them a routine and then allowing them to perform on stage during the talent show is great fun, both for me and the guests.
Esperanza: For me, dancing also has to be my favourite activity. I mean if nobody stops me, I would be dancing with guests until three in the morning which is a problem since I have to be up around six o’clock each day. But it just what I love to do and to pull me away from that is very hard. It’s when I can really just enjoy myself and no paperwork as that bores me, but dancing; I just love it.
Celebrity is renowned for its Celebrity Life Activities, which allows guests to not only enjoy their vacation, but also to enrich their lives. What is your favourite one of these activities and why?
Alejandro: One of my favourites has to be the Hot Glass Show. As you know, Celebrity Cruises has a partnership with the Corning Museum of Glass and I think that it unbelievable that we can offer something like this to our guests. It is one of those activities that differentiates us from the other cruise lines. I also really enjoy the dance lessons where our professional dancers will teach many types of ballroom dancing from the Rumba, Tango to the Salsa and Cha Cha. So that has to be my favourite Celebrity Life activity.
Esperanza: I really enjoy the Beyond the Podium speakers as sometimes it is really interesting to see what kind of quality of guest speakers we have. It’s great to find out that they are all professionals and see where they have travelled. Usually they do this because they are retired, so their experience is unbelievable. Sometimes for me, I get sad on cruises like this that are so itinerary based that not all the guests get an opportunity to actually listen to them, but if they do then I hear nothing but positive comments.
If you could organise any event on a cruise ship, whether it was traditional or quirky, what would you organise and why?
Alejandro: I’ve been thinking and I can’t really think of anything that we don’t offer as a lot of things are already invented. I mean every cruise line can only offer certain activities due to rules and regulations put in place by maritime bodies. However when I was working in Mexico, there were a number of fun activities such as game shows that I think would work well on board.
Esperanaza: I think a flash mob would be amazing. We tried a few months ago however it would have to be pre-organised because we tried in the Casino one day and it didn’t really work. It would have to be something to come from the outside in. However it would be amazing, especially If it would happen poolside.
Many people often associate working aboard a cruise ship as not just a job, but a lifestyle. Do you agree with this statement?
Alejandro: I agree completely. Working on a cruise ship is a great way to meet new people, learn a different language and see the world. It’s not like working with colleagues, you become one big happy family.
Esperanza: 100% yes. It feels like it’s not reality at all. If you are somebody that has been doing this for as long as I have then when you back ashore and you feel that you don’t really fit in anymore. I mean all my friends are married and have kids and I don’t even drive. But would I have gone back and decided not to work at sea? Never. Alejandro added: Well, I believe that people can get used to anything. When I go home, for the first few days I may feel like I don’t belong there, but in a short while, you’ll feel right at home.
Many people often wonder what privileges entertainment staff receives. Please could you tell us just a few?
Alejandro: We are lucky to enjoy the shows from our guest entertainers and not only that but we get to chat to top stars and be their friends which are just so awesome. Plus being able to interact with the guests and chat with them about their cruise is also great and wander around the vessel too.
Esperanza: I think that it is great that we are able to cruise like how we do on Celebrity but with Royal Caribbean. I’ve never taken advantage of that, but I know a lot of crew members who do and think it’s great. For me, it is unreal that at the end of the day, we can go and have a drink in the Martini Bar, which I think is one of the best, or go to Cellar Masters and the Speciality Restaurants and the fact that we are allowed to do that each day, not just on special occasion.
What advice could you give to those who wish to pursue a career aboard a cruise ship within the Entertainment department in the future?
Alejandro: You need to enjoy being with other people, otherwise it won’t work. As I said earlier, I started by working in many hotels through the American Hospitality Academy and many cruise lines, like ourselves here at Celebrity also ask for at least a years’ experience in the position you wish to have at sea. In all honesty, it happens that we hire people that don’t necessarily have the experience, but they have the personality and the drive to succeed. Languages are always a bonus, especially on a cruise ship. If you speak or know more than one language, then nine times out of ten, you’ll probably get hired over someone who only knows one language.
Esperanza: Be ready for it. Be ready for non-stop work; don’t expect it to be a 9-5 job, you could be working in the morning or all day long. Be prepared for little or no privacy and you need to have a people personality. I don’t think you can be taught, you either have to be one of those who love to chat with people, so you’re a people person or you’re not. I had some previous dance training and then I was a teacher. So I was kind of used to being on stage and talking with a microphone. I come from a family of entertainers so I studied music for eleven years at the Royal Conservatory, I play the piano. I’ve been in a lot of shows and things like that. My grandfather was a great dancer/entertainer so my whole family is in the entertainment business and at first, I never thought I was going to do it.
What can you both see yourselves doing in five to ten years from now?
Alejandro: That’s a great question, but to be honest I don’t really know the answer to that yet. I think in possibly ten years I’d be working at a beach resort in paradise and I’ll be in a non-stressful job like I have now, but in paradise somewhere.
Esperanza: I’m the same as Alejandro, I don’t really know the answer yet, but I’ve always wanted to be where the sun shines, so that’s why I am kind of chasing the sunshine on a cruise ship. Being from Vancouver, it is very rainy there. And I love the sunshine so somewhere in paradise at a resort would probably be for me too. I’m also a beauty therapist so I know that I can always follow that career path as there is always a spa resort located in paradise. However ultimately, owning my own spa somewhere would be the job for me.
I would like to thank Alejandro, Cruise Director of the Celebrity Solstice and Esperanza, the Activities Manager again for taking time out of their busy schedules to chat with me.
You’ll find Alejandro aboard the Solstice for the next few months whilst Esperanza is now on vacation before returning onto another Celebrity vessel soon.