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Cruise Hospitality Specialist


Have you ever been on a cruise? Maybe you've only ever seen those ads on television for vacations at sea. Doesn't everyone on cruises look like they're having so much fun? There are night shows, dancing, scrumptious meals, shuffleboard, competitions, games, and port visits. The cruise hospitality specialists are one the masterminds behind it all. Anything that looks fun and effortless was put together by a hardworking, dedicated cruise hospitality specialist.

Cruise hospitality specialists program entertainment and recreation activities for cruise ship passengers. They supervise the day-to-day operations of all areas involving the passengers' entertainment. So while they don't worry about the cabins or the ship's fuel levels, they do concern themselves with the entertainment areas, lounges, restaurants, and other customer service areas. They are also among those responsible for the safety of the passengers: they know where the lifeboat and fire stations are, they understand emergency signals, and they ensure that all passengers are prepared for any situation.

While they are away from their home for months at a time, including for holidays, birthdays, and other major events, the ship becomes their home. They know it, the crew, and the passengers inside and out. They organize major, large scale events like Vegas-style showcases, as well as paying attention to minute details, like knowing the native names of dishes.

Cruise hospitality is hard work, and not something to be taken lightly. Unlike other jobs, cruise hospitality specialists can't go out for dinner or to the movies and forget about their job. They are stuck on that ship for better of for worse. That is why cruise hospitality specialists often come up from the ranks of cruise workers. They may start out working with children in the kids section, or as a server in the dining room, or as a performer during the evening shows. That way, they can be sure that life aboard a cruise ship is the ideal life for them.
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  Interests and Skills  
Cruise hospitality specialists enjoy being with people. These individuals typically crave adventure and travel and require fantastic communication skills. It is important for cruise hospitality specialists to be mature, responsible, and open to other cultures and beliefs. They should also be extremely organized, and have a lot of self-confidence. To work as a cruise hospitality specialist it is valuable to be a safety-conscious individual, and know some first aid. Cruise hospitality specialists tend to be logical thinkers, who can react to difficult situations calmly and professionally. Some skills with another language is beneficial. As a whole, cruise hospitality specialists should be patient, tactful, and pleasant to be around at all times.

  Typical Tasks  
  • Plan events, dinners, shows, and games
  • Oversee assistants, performers, chefs, and wait staff
  • Visit regularly with passengers, answering any questions and addressing any complaints that arise
  • Meet with other ship staff to ensure everything is running smoothly
  • Keep detailed reports of ship's activities
  • Evaluate programs
  • The typical day for a cruise hospitality specialist is spent on the ship, planning and monitoring events, games, and activities for all passengers, young and old. They spend a lot of time working closely with others. They will get to travel to many popular tourist destinations, however, due to their heavy work load may not get to enjoy all the destinations have to offer. They spend some time outdoors on the deck if activities are scheduled there.

  Workplaces, Employers and Industries  
  • Cruise hospitality specialists are employed by cruise lines, often spending months at a time on these floating luxury resorts. Though they spend their time working, they are surrounded by excellent food, swimming facilities, nightly entertainment, and interesting ports to visit on the odd day off. They work alongside a staff of assistants and other hospitality workers. They work long hours, often 15-hour days, in a variety of climates.

  Long Term Career Potential  
Cruise directors can become event planners, hotel manager, restaurant owners, or travel agents. Depending on their background, they may even become performers, or write travel guides and articles about their adventures at sea.

  Educational Paths  
There is no set path for people who want to become cruise directors. However, there are some suggested guidelines. It is a good idea to complete a college diploma in hospitality management, travel and tourism, recreation, theater, or dance.

You should try to supplement your education with courses in geography, psychology, other languages, history, and communications. You should also get some first aid and CPR training.

Because you have to work your way up to cruise director, try and get a job working on a cruise where you work directly with the public, and advance from there. Non-cruise work is also useful, so be a camp leader, a tour guide, or a singer with a band, and then go to work on a ship if you still think it's for you.

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2002, http://www.bls.gov/oes/2002/oes_nat.htm

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