Happy Monday! Today I’m pumped to share another installment of my travel interviews with you, this time with a Cruise Director! Kabir was the Cruise Director on the Carnival Cruise Gabe and I took back in 2017 and we really enjoyed his incredible energy and charismatic personality. On that particular cruise, we were being chased by a Hurricane and he handled all the questions and concerns from passengers with such professionalism. Thanks to a great crew, we all made it back to Miami early enough to get out before the storm hit. Kabir has now transitioned into a role as a Cruise Director with Marella Cruises, so read on to find out all about what he has been up to and what life is like being in charge of entertaining and educating a huge ship full of people!
Can you share a little about your background, how you got interested in working on a cruise ship and how long you have been working as a Cruise Director?
My parents were a massive influence on my decision to work on a cruise ship. When I was 5 years old I went on my first cruise. By the time I was 20, I had done 25 cruises. I really loved being on a ship, and often kept in touch with the Cruise Directors. One, in particular, had a massive influence and was the one who got me hired with my first cruise line. We still keep in touch to this day, and she’s watched me become Cruise Director from starting as an Activity Host.
What has your experience been like with Marella Cruises and how does it compare to Carnival? Did you work in any other position on the ship before becoming Cruise Director?
I’ve only just recently started with Marella Cruises, but so far it is fantastic. Marella caters to a primarily British Clientele, as it is part of TUI UK – the largest travel operator in the UK. The ships are beautiful and very well maintained. Plus, some of the ships are all-inclusive which makes for a very care-free holiday experience.
I held a number of different roles before assuming the role of Cruise Director. I began as an Activity Host, and then briefly became Activity Manager (Assistant Cruise Director in other brands). Then moved on to being a Port Shopping Guide for a short time. My first contract as Cruise Director was with Carnival 2017. Since then I’ve been CD at P&O Cruises Australia and Marella Cruises. I’m very fortunate to have gained a lot of experience with different brands and clienteles – I feel it gives me a better perspective on the industry as well as entertainment and leadership.
What does a typical day include for you? How many hours a day do you typically work and how long is each contract?
A typical sea day involves checking my emails, meeting the Captain for our daytime announcement, hosting my Bollywood Dance Class as well as a couple of other events during the day. I will generally get a break between 2-5pm, and then get set for the evening. I like to socialize before the first show which is at 8:30pm. I bring the shows on and off and then attend the afterparty. Usually, I’m done by about 11pm or so on a sea day. Port days are a lot less intense, giving time for team meetings and inspections, and some downtime.
On a sea day I work about 10 hours or so, and on a port day closer to 6-7 hours. My contracts range from 2-4 months in duration which is perfect! I like to be home with the family as often as I can. However, I also love what I do so it is a balancing act.
What is the funniest/strangest thing that has happened to as a Cruise Director?
I will never forget this moment; I was doing my 90’s party in the Atrium. I invited a guest up to the stage to dance to Destiny’s Child. Before I knew it I saw her do a backflip off the back of the stage. I thought we would have a medical emergency, but instead, the woman was climbing back up to the stage and yelled: “rewind it – I’m missing the chorus!”. She wasn’t even hurt. I just remember thinking “now that’s dedication…. We still need to call the duty nurse to make sure you’re OK!”.
What happens if you get sick or lose your voice? Do you have a back-up who would take over your duties on the ship?
On my first contract as CD, that did in fact happen. I try to be very careful. The person that would assume my role is the Assistant Cruise Director. My ACD’s are fully qualified Cruise Directors and can always take my place should I become unwell. I will reveal a secret – I do not fare well in rough seas, so often the ACD will take over halfway through the evening. I’m still working on getting my sea legs…. 5 years later.
What is your favorite port of call, favorite cruise line you have been on, and why?
My favorite port is Mykonos, Greece. It’s beautiful there…in fact, any cruise in the Aegean is stunning. My favourite cruise was on Anthem of the Seas – I took my Dad for his birthday. It was special because it was the first time I took him on a cruise and we had a blast. There was an Aerosmith Cover Band and he just loved it!
How often are you able to get off the ship and have downtime?
I try to get off the ship as often as possible, especially if we don’t frequent the port we’re in. Port Days are the easiest to find downtime in. Usually, I do my best to keep fit onboard, so I love to sleep in when I can and hit the gym or go for a run in port.
What is your favorite food or restaurant to dine at on the ship? Do you get to eat at all the restaurants for free?
Here aboard the Marella Explorer, we have a restaurant called Umi Sushi and I can honestly say it’s the best Sushi at sea. I love it so much and have already been a number of times. As a Senior Officer, we do have some perks 😉
Any tips for first-time cruisers and why they should choose Marella Cruises?
Yes! First Timers – you won’t regret it! Come to the shows and get informed. That’s the best way to make the most of your holiday. Marella is a fantastic line – especially the Explorer and Explorer 2. The all-inclusive structure is rare, and the itineraries are fantastic. From the Caribbean to the Canary Islands, Baltic and Mediterranean – you can’t go wrong!
I understand you recently started a podcast called Keeping Afloat – where else can we find you on social media?
Indeed I did – Keeping Afloat follows the story of my journey on ships. It begins just before I embark on my first ship as an Activity Host. Please go and check it out on Spotify. I am bringing it to as many platforms as possible, so stay tuned. I will be coming out with an episode every week. You can find more of me on Instagram,Facebook, or on my website.
Emily again! I was cracking up big time at the backflip story; life as a CD certainly isn’t boring! Have you ever taken a cruise? What parts of being a CD surprised you? What’s your dream destination? Let me know your thoughts in the comments.