A day in the life of a Celebrity Solstice cruise director

Jan 11, 2018

Being a cruise director of a international cruise liner sounds like a glamorous job, but with days beginning at dawn and ending at dusk, it is a tough gig. Travel at 60 reader and travel blogger Joycee Smith, spoke to Celebrity Solstice cruise director, Liam Ryan, during her cruise from Sydney to Auckland to learn about the ins-and-outs of the role.

So, Liam what is a typical day in the life of a cruise director?

For me, a typical day is starting work at dawn and finishing at dusk and often later, along with my team of managers. We have managers for digital, broadcasting, marketing, a youth program manager and an activity manager. The activity manager looks after the bands – we have six live bands, including the orchestra and our duo.

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How do you handle your stress levels as a cruise director? The job sounds very stressful!

I know it’s a bit unusual but I feed off other people’s energy. I know I’m doing a good job when people are happy with the entertainment we’re providing for them and laughing at my jokes!

The entertainment is excellent! How do you select the program for each cruise?

We have our own large shore database to select from. We listen carefully to the feedback we get and, of course, consider the age demographic on each cruise.

We’re very careful not to wear talent out in one day. The acrobats we have on board need to be rested for a couple of days, and this goes for the singers and other performers otherwise their performances aren’t up to scratch.

But we do rely heavily on our shore-based entertainment.

We need to have a Plan A and B, then C, D, E …right down to Z to cope with the unexpected. This is where cruise entertainment is different to land-based entertainment. You can’t just ring up and replace an acrobat, or magician when the stage is out in the middle of the ocean.

I’ve been lucky and haven’t had to chopper in any entertainer replacements… yet!

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So…if the magician’s rabbit got sick and had to be replaced tonight, what would happen

Ah, we don’t use live rabbits any more – biosecurity issues and all that stuff!

Do you get rest like your entertainers?

I work four months on and two months off. I do like working on board the Celebrity Solstice and hope to continue with her for a while.

I’d also like to work in Asia at some time in the future – you know, continue exploring the world. I can also see myself spending more time in New Zealand in future years – I really like the country.

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What’s your working background? Were you in the events industry?

No, I was an entertainer. From 12 years of age I was in musical theatre doing classical ballet and jazz. My very first job was in a theme park in Paris when I saw a position advertised on a cruise ship for a dancer. I applied, got the job and have worked my way up from there.

You have an amazing sense of humour – is that the English in you coming out?

I’m English and Welsh, but I was quiet as a child. As a young child, I’d get extremely nervous when I’d have to go on stage to perform (I’d be arguing with myself – why am I doing this!) but once on the stage and seeing the audience, I knew I was where I belonged.

My humour probably developed as I got older. My Dad’s funny and my younger brother and I bounce off each other a lot – he’s a chef on a cruise ship so we have lots of jokes and stories to compare when we get together.

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Finally Liam, what’s your favourite part of being a cruise director?

I’d have to say it’s the people. I get so many opportunities to meet different people all over the world. Everyone loves entertainment, it’s a huge unifier. So, the best part is bringing people together through entertainment.

This interview was conducted by Travel at 60 reader and travel blogger Joycee Smith of Gypsyat60.

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