As a cruise director, you work, and it's not a 9-to-5 job. In short, you oversee the entertainment and activities program onboard. You supervise personnel that provide the entertainment such as: the singers, dancers, acrobats, ice casts, musicians, actors, stage managers and staff, lighting and sound crews, youth, sports and activities program, onboard TV and broadcast personnel. With your team you coordinate various types of activities to make sure the entertainment lines up with guests’ preferences at the same time keeping a close look on the administrative side of the entertainment division. You are the master of ceremony, emcee for most of the main events onboard, the passengers' most visible liaison and in general along with the captain the most visible crew member.
Cruise directors are officers of their ship and rotate between various itineraries where no cruise is ever the exact same and ships with distinct differences in operating procedures, personnel and management styles. They need to be self-assured and assertive leaders who can multi-task. Thin skins (taking things personally) are a detriment because cruise directors face the highest number of personality traits of any job known to mankind. Your job is to make sure that on a cruise with anywhere between 2000 to 6000 passengers varying from ages 1 - 95, with average of 45 different nationalities, multiple languages, cultures, religions and preferences, you are likeable and everyone has a good time onboard! Not the easiest task and clear to say you won't be able to please 100% of that amount of variety, but you gotta get close.
It's also important that cruise directors have a distinct personality -- whether it is strong and irritatingly sweet, or painfully patient and aggressive. Many cruise directors do come from an entertainment background and are able to give a personal performance of some sort, whether it's dancing, singing, acting or stand-up comedy. Some have experience in other segments of the hospitality industry, such as hotel management. They are essential in attending VIP functions, private parties, and ship-organized events, such as past passenger and welcome aboard receptions along with hosting a daily TV show personally on the internal ship TV network. What they all have in common is an outgoing, fun-loving personality combined with great organizational skills. He or she must organize schedules for a staff of lecturers, speakers, special guest performers and on-staff entertainers for regular onboard programs. The position requires a professional with excellent public speaking and writing skills, confidence in working with large numbers of people, and an ability to keep their cool in even the most trying circumstances.
While a good majority of the work involves interaction with guests and crew members, the cruise director also has clerical and organizational responsibilities In general, they have to keep travel logs, tracking the travel schedules, major events and any accidents, disputes or injuries, the budgeting and billing for entertainment and activities also fall under the cruise director’s purview. The cruise director typically reports back to corporate headquarters or the cruise's base for support and direction. One of the most time consuming responsibilities of a cruise director is to oversee the entertainment staff. This includes making schedules and doing reviews and evaluations. On top of all that, while you and your team live and work onboard, all aspects of the day to day lives are of a cruise director's concern. If anything begins to affect your staff's ability to work, such as personal problems with partners, behavioral detriments on your free time or a whole variety of any different situations that require onboard assistance to deal with, it always comes down to the cruise director to be involved closely in finding solutions to them in co-operation with the onboard HR manager.
Along with entertainment, management and operational skills, the cruise director must have full knowledge of ships' safety & security procedures issued by ISM (International Safety Management), follow up closely with the ILO (International Labour Organization) & MLC (Maritime Labour Convention) guidelines, and keep staff informed of appropriate behavior and conduct among their fellow crew and passengers.
And after all this, it needs to be noted that each cruise line has its own particular list of criteria that is expected of their cruise directors. Therefore, the nature of the responsibilities can easily grow longer or shorter depending on the size of the ship, number of passengers and number of crew onboard.
All and all being a cruise director is one of the toughest gig's in the world since you need to have excellent skills in organizational, managerial, social and clerical aspects of the work and industry. And "once in a while" you need to attend the guests and be an accomplished entertainer on your own right.
*References from Cruise Critic.com, Chron.com & Cruise Holidays.com