What does the Cruise Director do on board?

Interview with David Wilms, Cruise Director on board the EUROPA 2.

How do you become a cruise director?
I was an entertainment manager first and became a cruise director in 2015, but I actually trained in education and as a TV producer at a television company in Cologne. I have always been fascinated by the link between television and education. I developed educational television formats for children and young people for various broadcasters with my own production company – including quiz shows, game shows and miniseries about food, drink and exercise. I sold my company after 20 years in the business.

I came across Hapag-Lloyd Cruises when I was thinking about a new direction. I applied and was fascinated by the genre right from the initial discussions. The blend of an official host role, tourism, entertainment, creating the programme of the day, activities for children and young people, television programmes, sport and fitness and the responsibility for a team of up to 30 colleagues is highly motivating.

We are also on a cruise ship with an international mix of up to 500 guests and 380 colleagues from around the world. This means that we travel the world together, show our guests the most beautiful places and get them excited about foreign cultures and seafaring. Worlds collide here in the best possible sense, encouraging common understanding and fascination from all sides. I like to say that we make the world a little smaller in order to expand our horizons.

When does your working day normally begin?
My working day normally begins when the ship moors in the morning. Our guests are taken ashore shortly after that and start their excursions. The tour department is in charge of this. I like to drop by to wish our guests a lovely day. Some like to book another excursion at the last minute or take someone with them, so I am happy to help with this.

At around 8.00 hrs, I have my first meeting with the hotel manager to finalise the programme of the day for the next day. This shows the opening times for the bars and restaurants, events and entertainment. Then I go to have breakfast, usually with a guest or a group of guests.
At about 9.30 hrs, I meet the entertainment manager and the relevant technicians. Again, we talk about the coming day and do a review of what has already happened. We have various locations for entertainment, lectures, exhibitions, events and so on. This needs to be well organised as there are also a lot of staff training sessions held on board to ensure that quality is maintained. The shows also need to be rehearsed. Good preparation is important.

I spend the rest of the morning in my office doing organisational tasks. I always have time for my team too. When I am walking around the decks, I often stop to talk to some of our guests and I like taking the time to do this. When our guests return from excursions, I often stand at the gangway to welcome them back. There are lots of stories to hear, souvenirs to admire and photos to see.

At tea and coffee time, I do my rounds of the pool and Club Belvedere and I’m pleased to have a chance to talk to our guests again. Then I go to the television studio. I present an on-board programme on the EUROPA and the EUROPA 2 to introduce the ship and the staff. 
Then, when the evening events start, I stand at the entrance to greet the guests. A little chat is always good for the mood. After the last evening event at around 23.00 hrs, I walk around the public decks again and see if everything is well with our guests. My working day ends at around midnight.

What are the best moments on a cruise for you?
The start of a cruise, when the adventure begins. When the dream cruise becomes a reality. Then I like to stand at the bow with guests. We face the wind and enjoy the moment. I am always happy when our guests have arrived on the ship and are enjoying what is on offer, whether it be cuisine, culture or entertainment. Both ships offer plenty of room for individuality, so each guest can find their own favourite places on board. And then there are often very special moments such as weddings, vows and birthdays.

What’s the best thing about your job?
Working as a cruise director on board a ship in the Hapag-Lloyd Cruises fleet is a calling. The desire to travel and sharing the experience of seeing the world with our guests is a passion. After my career as a television producer, I never would have thought that I would find another job that filled me with so much joy and that was so engaging.