Seriously, though, this is a nice way to end the year. And what a year! So without further ado, I give you… the Top 10 Most Frequently Asked Questions of this Cruise Ship Performer.
- Having traveled so much, where do you want to go next?
On a cruise ship? The Baltic and Mediterranean cruises would be amazing, as Britain, Europe and Russia are high on my list. Then Japan, Thailand, maybe the Philippines. Once I get those done, I’ll let you know!
- Do you ever get lonely?
Often. It could be different with other casts, but it’s remarkable how often I can go without seeing my fellow cast members even on a contained space like this ship. I remember this was true at my college, too – only about 500 students, and yet I could go literally years without seeing some of my classmates.
In full disclosure, I do tend to be a somewhat solitary person. While this can be great for productivity when I’m working on projects, it can also be a downer when solitude becomes loneliness. So it’s something I have constantly battled this contract, balancing personal space with social interactions both planned and spontaneous.
- What is your favorite part of working this job?
I think it’s a tie between traveling to places I haven’t been and the performances themselves. Something about seeing a child’s wide-eyed delight in the audience just sets me into high gear – because I remember BEING that child, and the thought that this one night of sharing my joy for performing could cause some other person to love the arts in any capacity as an adult is intoxicating.
- What is your least favorite part of working this job?
Lack of communication. It’s hard, as someone used to being in leadership positions, to reconcile myself with not being told things, especially when they impact my job and my life. On a more banal note, it’s hard going days without cell reception. #firstworldproblems
- How do you fill your days at sea?
Boy, has that answer varied over the course of this contract! Sometimes (for about two months straight in the middle there), it was literally just rehearsal all day and performances at night. Occasionally, I’ve spent the day going to activities or events around the ship, but by and large, if I’m not rehearsing, most of my sea days are spent lying on my bed, either reading or watching a movie or coloring or (I regret to admit) playing phone games. The horizontal position reduces the effects of sloshing around the ocean, while the relaxation is really beneficial to counter my intense performance evenings.
- Do you have a great tan now?
Not in the slightest. I pretty much only had time to work on my tan for about a week. After that, the aforementioned rehearsals took up all daylight hours, and then by the time we were released back into the sun, winter had set in. It’s amazingly cold on the oceanic crossing at this time of year. I also don’t particularly care about tanning my extremely white skin, so it has been super low on my list of priorities.
- How do you stay fit with all this amazing food?
Well, most cast members are super dedicated about hitting the gym daily. I’m not one of them. I did work out for multiple stints throughout this contract, but consistency in working out has long been one of my great weaknesses and a continual New Year’s resolution.
That being said, it’s a fact that most weight loss (or maintenance) is attributable to good diet. Sticking to protein and vegetables and being conscientious in your caloric intake is not as glamorous as taking buff selfies at the gym, but it’s more sustainable – and better for you in the long run.
Ironically, while I struggle with sugar the same way I struggle to work out consistently, my body seems to have a remarkably stable natural weight. It’s a little more than what I think most casting directors would recommend, but I never seem to go above it – and it’s devilishly difficult to remain below it for longer than a month, unless I’m super strict with myself, which I find takes all the joy out of life. So…I’ve made friends with my weight and am crossing my fingers not to get cast in any more numbers with belly-baring costumes….
- Do you ever get bored of the food?
This is the other secret to staying fit, one I never thought possible the first month or so on the ship: yes, the food does get boring.
It seems incredibly ungrateful to say that, especially as I’m reconciling myself with the fact that in a month I will be responsible for preparing all of my own food once more. However, the monotony of the same dishes being served over and over has one benefit, which is that you eat less because you’re so disinterested in what you eat.
While I apparently have discovered the world’s most satisfying salad (the key: feta cheese with pumpkin seeds and warm carrots), and while it appears that I cannot consume too much quiche, I’ve struggled the most with breakfast, I think. First of all, there is no Greek yogurt on this ship, which is practically inconceivable to me. Secondly, if I don’t want to stuff myself with pastries, my breakfast options are seriously limited, and lukewarm milk makes the few breakfast cereals offered considerably less appealing. And third, I must constantly resist the siren song of deep-friend French Toast.
Which is why, most days, I skip breakfast and start with lunch. It’s very efficient. And has probably helped me keep the exact same weight this whole contract.
- Is it hard being away from your husband?
I could write two or three blog posts on this subject, although I’m not sure if I will. It’s incredibly personal, and while I don’t mind sharing personal things by and large, the intricacies of my marriage are not something I want to share with the world just yet. (Maybe when we’ve been married 30 years or something?)
The short and true, if truncated, version, is that it’s gotten progressively more difficult to be away from him as this contract has continued. We did long distance when we were first dating, so it wasn’t something new to us, but this was the first time we’d done long distance since getting married.
Paradoxically, it got a lot harder after he came to visit for the first time. I think the first three months or so, I was occupied by so many new experiences that I barely remembered my former life, although I was spending hours on the phone with him every time we were in port (four days a week). But once he came to visit me, and suddenly he and my cruise ship world weren’t separated, everything changed. It sort of coincided with the arrival of the new show and our switch to these much longer Hawaiian cruises, with four and five day stretches without reception, so his absence became very noticeable in a very short amount of time.
But both of us would say that this has been very much a true Love Boat experience, in that I will be leaving the boat with a markedly stronger and healthier marriage than the one I arrived with. Cue our favorite theme song in preparation for the number question I’ve been asked on this contract…
- Will you do more cruise ships?
Not right away. I have several performance gigs lined up at home in the first half of the year, so accepting an immediate second contract has never been an option for me.
In truth, I’d love to come back in a headliner/ guest entertainer capacity, with my own shows and my own schedule. There’s a lot I love about cruising, particularly the ports and the performances, but at this point in my life, I need to be able to go home more frequently. To not miss Christmas with my family. To see my kitties and my husband in person, not just through a terrible camera phone. And to reconnect with the pulsing heartbeat of American theatre on the streets of Manhattan.
(It sounds terribly corny, I know, but I love New York. It’s where I dreamed of being for so many years, it’s the first place I’ve lived that matches my internal rhythm of hustle and drive, and it’s where everything I love is centered, so I can’t wait to get back.)
But I never know where God is leading me….
Though I am an employee of Princess Cruise Lines, all opinions are mine only and do not necessarily reflect those of my employer.