This is Part II of our interview with a Canadian dancer who has worked for several major cruise lines. Part I of our interview talks more extensively about employment opportunties for dancers on cruise ships.
CruiseJobFinder members gain immediate access to exclusive Q&A interviews with industry professionals. These experts share their advice on topics including:
What was the interview process like for this position?
The interview process was in the form of a live audition in a large group. We were all taught a routine that we had to learn quickly and then dance in front of the theater director and choreographer from the cruise line. The audition process lasted about 10 hours.
What kinds of answers do you think the interviewers are looking to hear from a successful candidate?
They are looking for excellent dance technique. You must show that you are ready to perform in a group, doing different kinds of dances and that you can handle stress. You will need to stand out from a large group of dancers, and in my audition they selected only 10 dancers from the group of 300.
What tips can you give to other job seekers for passing this interview?
Just be the best dancer you can be. Get some extra practice in before your audition and rest well the day before, so that you are in top condition for the day.
Why do you think you were hired? What qualities did the hiring manager(s) see in you?
I think that all my years of dancing and learning different disciplines was apparent to them. I was confident and have always been able to pick up new choreography easily.
How long did it take from first applying for the position to getting your first contact from the cruise line company?
It was not too long. I think about 2 weeks.
What happened after you were hired?
They informed me that I was chosen for the crew and I had to sign a contract and get my visa in order.
How long was it before you got your ship assignment after accepting the position?
It was pretty much straight away. I had to start going to rehearsals within a week of accepting the job.
How helpful were the cruise line in helping you get organized before you joined your ship?
I was helped by the production agency and did everything through them.
What happened when you boarded your ship for the first time?
The first thing I noticed was the rocking motion and suddenly thought, "What did I get myself into - how am I going to dance on a stage that essentially floats...?" I was shown to my cabin, which was tiny and was introduced to my roommate.
Approximately how many crewmembers are on the ship?
There are about 2000 crew on board the Allure.
Describe the living arrangements and how you deal with sharing space, living in a small accommodation.
The cabins are located near the bottom, so you don't always have a view, and they are small, although the dancers get slightly bigger rooms than other crew members. We share with other members of the dance or entertainment crew. Even though it is cramped, everyone is quite respectful of each other.
What are your colleagues like, both in your department and in general?
Everyone is great! We are all like family and enjoy being around each other. Of course, like in any family, there are disagreements and arguments, but these are minor. Generally the dancers and other crew members who interact with the guests, don't really get to interact with the behind the scenes crew, but everyone gets along.
What is your favorite port and why?
There are lots of ports I love - Belize and Cadiz in Spain were brilliant, but I think my favorite would have to be Tenerife. What a fascinating and beautiful place.
How did you spend your leisure time off duty?
I usually spend time on deck, and in the areas where the staff are allowed, although I try to go ashore as much as possible when in the ports. I love exploring.
Do you go on any excursions? If so, what was your favorite one?
I go on as many as possible. I most enjoyed visiting the Altun Ha Mayan Ruins in Belize - I'm a bit of a history nut.
Would you recommend this line of work to others, and if so, then why?
Most definitely! It is amazing to be able to visit all different countries and pursue my passion as a profession.
What's the best advice anyone gave you about working in this industry, whether it relates to finding a job for the first time or making the most of the experience?
Be sure that it is what you want to do. Aside from traveling the world, you must be sure that you have the right temperament because you are on top of each other and do not get a lot of privacy, plus you need to enjoy interacting with other people.
What are the most coveted positions on the ship?
Well, the dance crew and singers have a pretty good job because we work the shortest hours and have more free time. I love what I do.
What are the passengers like? How do you handle working with guests for so many hours?
Well, passengers can be difficult, but as a dancer I generally only interact with guests at functions so it is great. You need to chat to them and you have to be friendly, even if you are exhausted and do not feel like it, but it is fun to find out where they all come from and learn about different cultures.
What personal benefits/rewards do you find from working on a cruise ship?
I enjoy travelling and doing what I love most in the world. The other benefit is that I get to make money and save pretty much all of it, because you have basically no costs when you are on board for months at a time.
What did you dislike about working on a cruise ship?
I don't really dislike anything, but many people don't like the rules and protocols of the cruise line, such as not being allowed at the pool or in the pool - you are only allowed on the deck. I get the rules restrictions though because we are staff and guests have paid for the experience.
What is Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines like to work for?
It is amazing. The dance routines are actual dances and not just the corny stuff that other cruise lines do. We do actual shows like Broadway style productions and musicals. It is very professional and well put together. You also get to do all types of dances from classical to punk to jazz and more. The choreography is also challenging - no single pirouettes ever - just triples!
What do they do to keep the crew happy?
You get your time off and staff areas where you are allowed to hang out. We also get cruise parties and can use the gym among other facilities.
What is your favorite ship and why?
The Allure of the Seas - it is huge and has so many new features, like an ice show. There is so much to actually do and see on board, that you don't really feel that claustrophobic.
If you could do any job onboard, then what would it be and why?
I would not do anything else. I love what I am doing now.
Do you think working on cruise ships has or will help your career on land, and has it developed you as a person?
It will help my career on land and can easily get choreography jobs or dancing jobs at companies with the experience I have had. I can also get professional dance jobs at theaters. It has definitely helped me as a person. I am more open to other people, aware of different cultures and personalities, and feel like I have grown tremendously.