August 2, 2011
We Are Cunard
Being a Guest Entertainer is the best job in the world! What other profession gives you the chance to do what you love doing (sing!), travel the world and meet some truly amazing people?!
I’m a professional opera singer, and literally fell by happy accident into the world of ship-board entertainment. I was performing ‘Carmen’ in Valencia, Spain, and was approached by an Agent at breakfast after the opening show. At the time, I didn’t even know that there was entertainment on board ships! Little did I realise then what a wonderful world I was about to discover.
Cunard was the first line I ever worked for, and I was sent all the way to South America to join the Caronia for a week. As a Guest Entertainer, you are emailed flight, hotel and transfer details well in advance of the contract date. However, I learned very early on that a certain amount of independence is needed to get yourself from A to B and back again, and in dealing with all the Customs, Immigration and Port Officials this job entails. quite a daunting prospect for someone who’d never even flown on her own before!
One of the very best parts of this job are the friends you make. I’m constantly receiving emails, texts and calls from people all over the world, working on many different ships. We may not see each other for weeks, even months, and yet when we meet again on another ship, it’s as though we’ve never been apart. Catching up over a coffee, or something a little stronger, after shows is fantastic. There is a huge camaraderie amongst Guest Entertainers, and staff on board, including Entertainment, Theatre and Shops, all become great friends. Without wanting to sound clichéd, we are like a big family, especially on Cunard! On that first voyage I made a very special friend, who taught me so much about working and performing on ships, and has remained an inspiration to this day – the lovely Kenny Martyn (who is, incidentally, in the next cabin as I write, preparing a spectacular Big Band show for the Queens Room this evening!). Not only did we tour most of South America’s football stadiums, but I still use the very same Hotmail account he so kindly set up for me on a very sultry afternoon in a café in Montevideo!
Although I regularly perform opera and concerts on land, ship performances remain my favourite. Entertainers put together their own programmes – mine is all my favourite songs! And in no other venue do we have the opportunity to meet and get to know our audience. It’s very special being able to chat to guests after shows, and see just how much the entertainment here on board is valued and appreciated.
Every show of my ship career has been a thrill, but my highlights? My first performance in the Royal Court Theatre here on Queen Mary 2; a magnificent theatre, better than any to be found in the West End or Broadway! And being invited to perform on the very last night of QE2’s very last voyage. It was a true honour, and singing ‘Time to Say Goodbye’ has never been so difficult, filled as it was with so many memories. She was a beautiful ship.
What an amazing job I’ve got! Lucky, lucky girl!