What's it like to work on the biggest cruise ship in the world? Ken Rush, Cruise Director for Royal Caribbean, knows all about it, and spoke to us about his favorite destinations and travel tips, and what it's like to work on his current ship, the Allure of the Seas.
MS: Can you give us a sense of what you do every day, and how you got your job?
KR: I've been a Cruise Director for 25 years, and have spent 30 years in the industry. My main priority is making sure everyone is having a great time, from the time I wake up at 7am until I call it a night at 1am.
I found my calling on an Azure Seas cruise with my family in 1984. While watching the activities staff do their thing, my parents suggested it could be a great career for me, so I talked to the Cruise Director about opportunities. I started as a DJ, then a shore excursion manager, followed by sound and light technician, Production Manager, Assistant Cruise Director and finally Cruise Director.
MS: What are your favorite things to do and see when you travel, whether you're going on your own time, or you're working on the ship?
KR: When I'm working, I enjoy checking out the different ports of call, from the Caribbean to Europe to Alaska. While I'm in the port, I always try and explore beaches and restaurants. On my own time, I most enjoy visiting California. I have a home there, and really love to see my family and friends. Because of my schedule, I don't get to see them very often.
MS: Can you give some advice on how travelers can get the most out of a cruise – on the Allure of the Seas or otherwise?
KR: Cruising is all about what each individual person makes of it. But to get the most out of a trip, passengers should read the daily onboard newsletter. In the case of the Allure, it is called the Cruise Compass. Every activity, service, and food and drink venue on the ship is included in the newsletter. If people follow it, it will give them many different options.
MS: What are your favorite ports of call?
KR: I love Italy, because that's where my family is from, especially Venice and Rome. I also just generally enjoy the history and beautiful destinations throughout Europe.
MS: Are there any amenities on the Allure that people wouldn't think to take advantage of?
KR: The Allure of the Seas’ offerings go above and beyond those of a typical cruise ship – including a zipline and two FlowRiders, which create waves for surfing. I would also recommend taking advantage of the different dining options. Don’t limit yourself to the main dining room. We have incredible restaurants. Some of them are an extra charge, but they're definitely worth it. And the spa offers acupuncture and even Botox.
MS: What have been the highlights of your career as a cruise director?
KR: Participating in twelve "take-outs," where we take the ship from the shipyard for the first time, and the maiden voyages of brand new vessels, including the Oasis of the Seas – and overseeing the naming ceremonies for all of them.