A cruise ship is a little like a floating village… but what is life like for its full-time residents? We talk to entertainment crew Playlist Productions Cast members; long-timer Gill Lawson and newcomer Sami Vincent about their day-to-day life on board a Carnival ship.
How did you become part of the entertainment crew on board?
Sami: I went on a UK-based P&O Worldwide ship as a fly-in act for two weeks and I was really inspired by it. I said, “Oh, my gosh. Only famous people get to go on stages this big and do shows of this value, I really want to do this.” So, I’m doing what I really love and getting to see really amazing places I’d never see if this wasn’t my job.
Gill: I went to an audition at Pineapple Studios in London. A few months later, I got a phone call to say, “Hey, we’re just wondering if you were free, we’d like to offer you this contract on the Carnival Imagination.” That was 2007, a really long time ago. And I just loved it. I thought it was the best job in the world. You get to travel the world, doing what you love. It just doesn’t even really seem like work.
What does a typical day look like for you?
Gill: If it’s a sea day, we often like to get out there and interact with guests. We do an event called “Coffee with the Cast”, a Q&A session in the RedFrog Pub. Quite a lot of our productions have after-show activities, too. For example, 88 Keys is usually on Elegant Night, so we get all dressed up, go up to the Piano Bar and do an impromptu singalong with guests. If it’s a port day, we might lie in, or get off the ship and go to the beach. If it’s a sea day and a show day, most of us start our day around four o’clock. We tend to go the gym, which really starts our bodies working, preparing us for the shows.
What is life like down in the crew quarters?
Sami: It’s really friendly and there’s a unity to it. You might be walking down what we call the I95, the main corridor, and you pass someone from housekeeping or bar staff, and everyone stops and says hello. It’s a really happy environment. It sounds like a cliché, but you do become each other’s family because you’re so far from home. It’s like our little home from home in the middle of the ocean.
Do you socialise together?
Sami: I think people in the entertainment crew are naturally quite extroverted, so, yes, for the most part we do. There’s a crew lounge and sometimes, if you want to switch off, you might just put your “comfies” on and hang out there for a while. But you also need your own time. Because we’re with guests a lot – we’re always “on” so to speak – you do like to have the odd day where you just keep to yourself, watch a bit of Netflix and recharge.
Gill: Bottle of wine in your cabin?
Gill: There are also events for the whole crew: there’s a party in the nightclub or in the Versailles Lounge once a month. Our entertainment director, Erica, also likes to arrange bonding nights for our department – a recent one was painting with wine.
What are your cabins like?
Gill: You make your cabin your own. Most people put up photos of their family and friends and people from home. When we go back to our Sydney home port, we go and buy throws and cushions … just to make it your own little sanctuary.
Sami: We’re very fortunate, we get housekeeping daily, just like the guests do. We get our beds made. I don’t get that at home!
Do you have to be a particular type of person to work in such close confines?
Gill: I think you’ve got to be a very open person. I mean, you’re working with 50-something different nationalities on board, so you have to be very open-minded and understand that everyone has different values and different morals and different social etiquette.