By Adam Brown |February 26,2016 - 09:32 PM
FOTO 2 - Show Photo

Performance night

The Azamara ships are five-star hotels on water. While the ship is fancy and the ports are exotic, the backbone of the cruise line and what draws passengers to come back time and  again is the hardworking crew.

Most larger ships have a 4 to 1, guest to crew ratio, and ours was 2 to 1, so special requests and attention to the smallest detail are no problem. The crew members come from all over the world, around 50 different nationalities.

We were lucky to be traveling together as husband and wife, but most crew members don’t have that chance. In effect, the crew becomes a kind of family—celebrating holidays and birthdays together, weekly karaoke sessions (around 60 percent of our crew was from the Philippines).

Working as a crew member is not an easy job. As members of the entertainment department, we were fortunate to have time off during the day to go out and explore.

But many other departments weren’t as lucky since a ship is a 24-hour daily operation to serve the passengers. If you know somebody who is a seaman, you’re well aware of his  sacrifice for the family at home.

While you might be jealous of seamen posting  selfies taken in places that most people can only dream of, after that photo they probably had to run back to the ship for their respective duties.

And all of this while spending months of the year away from family and friends, watching children grow up through photos and Skype. I will always carry a large amount of respect for all OFWs, and seamen in particular.

The ships are comprised of areas for sleeping, dining, relaxing, shopping, and of course, entertainment. The dining options include different choices from a casual buffet all the way up to fine dining.

There were other options for snacks such as grabbing a cookie or a piece of cake at the Mosaic coffee shop, to eating hotdogs and hamburgers at the Pool Grill. All of those options, including a main formal dining room are included in the fare for the passengers.

They do offer two specialty restaurants for an extra fee, which are themed dining venues. One of them is Prime C, an American-style steakhouse featuring nearly every cut of steak imaginable.

The second is Aqualina, a Mediterranean-inspired restaurant with specialties of pastas and seafood. Anna and I had many dates over the last few years in Prime C, one of our favorites.

Working onboard a ship is a fun and exciting experience, oftentimes a different city and a different country each and every day. But sometimes the ports are too far from each other and the ship must spend one day at sea getting between them.

FOTO 2 INSET- Dressing Room

In the dressing room.

For passengers, those are the relaxing days, the time to rest up for the next port. Those are some of the most hectic times for the crew trying to keep all the passengers occupied and entertained.

The ship features a pool area complete with multiple hot tubs. There is a fully-stocked library, multiple lounges with live music, as well as a spa, fitness center, casino and all kinds of venues with everything from trivia to bingo to lectures from guest speakers from all over the world.
Even though many of the ports offer great shopping opportunities (think of Hong Kong or Dubai), the ship also has several different stores onboard. Because the itineraries feature multiple countries, the onboard shopping is duty free, making for some great bargains. \

They sell everything from toothpaste to jewelry. I can say that Anna definitely enjoyed her time in the shops onboard with duty free prices!

The part we were most involved with was, of course, the entertainment. Cruise ships have a wide variety of entertainment onboard from bands, solo musicians, and the orchestra and production cast–which is how Anna and I met.

The production cast and orchestra perform mainly in the ship’s main theater. The shows are similar to Broadway-style shows.

The technical side of the larger theaters can rival any international venue with millions of dollars in sound and lights to support the shows and large backstage areas with dedicated dressing rooms.

The work requirements for the entertainment department were always diverse. Anna focused on the production shows with her cast of singers and dancers and she would also perform her own headliner show. Being the musical director meant I was responsible not only for directing the nightly shows in the theater but I was also responsible for scheduling and supervising the musicians throughout all the other live music venues around the ship.

As a part of the orchestra, I was performing in those same shows as Anna, but also performing with other headliners that were flown to perform on the ship. These acts changed nightly and ranged from classical musicians to X-Factor finalists from the UK.

Anna and Benji Pool Deck

Anna and Benji at the pool deck.

We would have a one-hour rehearsal in the afternoon and then play their full show for audiences at night.  It was a learning experience and I had the opportunity to work with a lot of great artists from all over the world.

We consider ourselves very fortunate to be able to travel all over the world, perform every night, and get paid to do it. Performing onboard luxury cruise ships gave us access to so many things and we were able to take in a little bit of so many cultures along the way. It has broadened our minds, given us better perspective, and it will give us lots of things to reminisce for the rest of our lives.

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