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Ask the cruise director: How can a cruise director improve my voyage?

Dec. 12, 2020
5 min read
Ask the cruise director: How can a cruise director improve my voyage?
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One of the most popular cruise directors of the past decade, Matt Mitcham, is offering his insights to cruise fans in a series of pieces for The Points Guy. Presented in a question-and-answer-type format, the pieces originally appeared in The Points Guy’s cruise newsletter (sign up here). Mitcham retired from Carnival Cruise Line in August.

Today’s question for Matt: How can a cruise director improve my voyage?


The cruise director is the face and voice of any ship. Not only are they there to keep you entertained, but they also are there to keep you up to date during your cruise. From port arrivals to captain’s introductions, the cruise director will be the voice from above that keeps you informed.

As the face of the ship, guests will seek out the cruise director for pretty much anything! Trust me. During my career, I was asked some extremely interesting questions that even I don’t know how to answer. Do the crew live on board the ship? How do I know which photos are mine? I’ve even had someone ask me what time the midnight buffet begins.

Related: How to plan a cruise with points and miles

As a Carnival Cruise Line cruise director, Matt Mitcham was the face and voice of such ships as Carnival Breeze and Carnival Vista. (Photo courtesy of Matt Mitcham)

As you can imagine, being the comical characters that cruise directors normally are, it can be very difficult for them to remain professional when answering such questions. So, responding that crew members arrive on jet skis every morning for their shift seems only fair. If they seem to accept that answer, we suggest they refrain from having alcoholic beverages for the rest of the cruise.

Here are a couple of ways to get the most out of your cruise director:

Show up to their events

One of the best parts of being a cruise director is the opportunity to make a difference in a guest’s vacation. Being able to make someone smile and forget about the stresses of life is a huge gift. The cruise director is your hype person onboard and will host everything from sail-away parties to onboard shows and military appreciation events. And let us not forget the hairy chest competition (a staple of Carnival ships), for which some men train an entire year.

One of the hardest parts of my job was trying to eat lunch after watching six very hairy Chewbacca parade the Lido deck. It amazes me that some of these men don’t overheat in the sun wearing their homegrown winter sweaters.

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Related: The best credit cards for booking cruises

Cruise directors on Carnival ship lead activities such as hairy chest contests. (Photo by Gene Sloan/The Points Guy)

Jokes aside, the cruise director will work tirelessly throughout your cruise to ensure you have a great time. You’ll see them late at night hosting the Motown parties in the atrium and then bright and early the next morning assisting guests off the ship. When do they sleep? During vacation.

Listen for tips and tricks

There will be a lot of tips and tricks that your cruise director will share with you throughout your cruise. Pay attention. Here are a few tips to get you started.

Eat early on elegant night. This is the night that the ladies get all dressed up in their finest clothes, and the men sulk around the ship with them from one photo backdrop to another, while longing to be back in their shorts, socks and flip flops. Most people will attend the dining room that evening, making it busier than normal, so getting there early should help you avoid long waits for dinner.

Follow the 10-minute rule. I’ve never understood why people stand and wait in a busy stairwell for 45 minutes to be the first off the ship. While the ship is arriving into port, kick back and relax. Enjoy the sail in. Once the cruise director announces that the gangway is open, wait 10 minutes, then go down, and you will have a nice, clear, stress-free gangway on which to disembark the ship. (This rule also applies when using the toilet after your partner in the cabin).

Look out for free stuff. Check out the cruise director’s informational talks, which are normally hosted in the main lounge. Often, there will be lots of fantastic giveaways just for attending, like free shore excursions and vouchers for specialty restaurants. Not a bad return for just showing up.

Planning a cruise? Start with these stories:

Mitcham has served as cruise director on several Carnival ships including Carnival Vista and Carnival Breeze. Known for his six-pack abs, shirtless selfies and effervescent personality, he was recently profiled in People magazine as the “hunky cruise director.” He was named the cruise world’s best cruise director in 2019 by the cruise industry’s leading magazine, Porthole. You can find him on Instagram at @mattcruisedirector.

Featured image by Getty Images

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    The Points Guy Exclusive Offer: Earn 150,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Platinum Card® within the first 3 months of Card Membership.

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    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
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Why We Chose It

It's hard to find a card that competes with the mile-long list of benefits that come with the Amex Business Platinum. While it's certainly not the card for the average consumer, a business owner with tons of expenses -- especially related to travel -- will find this card incredibly valuable. This card is similar to the consumer version that Amex offers, but with more business-oriented perks around statement credits and earning rates that are a better fit for business owners.

Pros

  • An up to $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee every four to five years
  • Up to $400 annual credit for eligible U.S. Dell purchases (enrollment required)
  • Gold status at Marriott and Hilton hotels (enrollment required)
  • Access to the Fine Hotels & Resorts program and Hotel Collection
  • Extended warranty protection
  • International Airline Program and Cruise Privileges Program

Cons

  • Steep annual fee
  • Difficulty meeting $15,000 welcome offer for smaller businesses
  • Limited high-bonus categories outside of travel
  • The Points Guy Exclusive Offer: Earn 150,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Platinum Card® within the first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • Get 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com, and 1X points for each dollar you spend on eligible purchases.
  • Earn 1.5X points (that’s an extra half point per dollar) on eligible purchases at US construction material & hardware suppliers, electronic goods retailers and software & cloud system providers, and shipping providers, as well as on purchases of $5,000 or more everywhere else, on up to $2 million of these purchases per calendar year.
  • Unlock over $1,000 in annual statement credits on a curation of business purchases, including select purchases made with Dell Technologies, Indeed, Adobe, and U.S. wireless service providers.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit: Get up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year for checked baggage fees, lounge day passes, and more at one selected airline.
  • $189 CLEAR® Credit: Use your Card and get up to $189 back per year on your CLEAR® membership. CLEAR® is available at more than 50 U.S. airports and stadiums.
  • The American Express Global Lounge Collection® can provide an escape at the airport. With more than 1,400 airport lounges across 140 countries and counting, you have more lounge location options than any other credit card on the market as of 9/2021.
  • $695 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.