“Communication is key” says Arno, Cruise Director

In this insightful video, Arno shared revealing observations about the position of Cruise Director and career tips in a friendly, accessible style.

Q: Thank you for taking the time to offer this interview. Would you please shortly introduce yourself to our viewers and readers?

A: My name is Arno, I am 50 years old, I’m from Austria, and I’m one of the AMADEUS Cruise Directors.

Q:  Why AMADEUS?

A: The AMADEUS product is quite special because it is an European product, a home-made product, it’s a family-made product, and this makes it unique in the world of river cruising. We are talking about a family-owned company located in Austria, which is the heart of Europe. Decisions can be made very quickly and this might be one of the main differences to other companies and competitors on the rivers. One of the best things for our guests is that the Cruise Directors on board come from the areas that we are sailing though so they are presenting their motherlands to our guests. This makes it very special and this makes it very different to other products on the rivers. We have Cruise Directors from all over Europe. We have Dutch friends from the Netherlands, we have Cruise Directors coming from Romania we have Cruise Directors from Austria and Germany that makes it quite easy to present areas and locations properly to our guests.

Q:  Where do guests come from on the AMADEUS ships and what languages should a Cruise Director speak?

A: We have guests from all around the world, not only from Austria or from Germany, who are really feel like home on our ships. We have guests from America, from Japan… the Chinese market is getting stronger and stronger… so from all around the world, guests are joining us to experience a little bit of the lifestyle in Europe. For our AMADEUS fleet the most important languages are English and German these are the board languages as well. So our Cruise Directors should be able or should have skills in both of these languages. Every additional language would be a plus. French would be nice, Dutch would be an option. The Hispanic market is getting important for us, that means Spanish is, for sure, a plus for new colleagues in this business.

Q: What are the key responsibilities of a Cruise Director?

A: The Cruise Director is the Host on board, he/she is the face and the voice of the company on board of the ship. That means he/she is the contact person for all the passengers on board. He/she is hosting all onboard events like cooking demonstrations, like quizzes, like trivias. We have different type of entertainment for smaller groups, like playing bridge or bingo, giving them instructions on special or local games. And we do entertainment in the evening for the entire group of passengers on board which might be a nice quiz or even a show, together with the entire crew on board.

He/she is doing, furthermore, all the informative talks for the guests. That means that the Cruise Director is doing all the briefings about safety and life on board, which is very important. He introduces all the ports to the guests, giving them all necessary information on programs during the day.

The Cruise Director is doing all commentaries once the guests are on board during sailing stretches. The Cruise Director is the one who is informing about the scenery, about the history. So there is quite a wide knowledge necessary on destinations, on the areas that the ship is sailing through. Of course you cannot have that from the beginning. But this is something that grows with the time and where your experienced colleagues will help you with trainings.

The Captains on board could be very helpful, because they have a wide knowledge on basic nautical information that the Cruise Directors have to give to the guests. So all those things are things that you can learn on board. What you should bring is: you should be curious, you should be willing to learn, and willing to widen your knowledge.

Q: What is your favorite destination and which do you know best?

A: I am Austrian and therefore the Danube is my most favorite river and the Wachau Valley is the destination that I, for sure, know best.

Q: What lessons did you learn on your career path?

A: Before I started my career on river cruise ships, I was self-employed and for me, these strict rules and the chain of command was something that I had to get used to. At the beginning of my career, this was, for sure, the biggest challenge for me.

Communication on board is quite important, not only between the Cruise Director and his guests, but also between the Cruise Director and the Senior Management on board. Because the entire ship has to know what’s going on, what is the planning, what are the timings, in order to adjust the daily operation properly for everyone. Therefore, it is more than important that the Cruise Director communicates clearly with the Hotel Department and with the Nautical Department, to ensure that the daily operation runs properly.

Q: What do you think are the most important qualities to be able to succeed in your position?

A: The most important qualities for a Cruise Director are the soft skills. It is important to be open minded, to have an outgoing personality, to be able to speak in front of people, so not to be shy. And it’s very important to be organized. Speaking in front of a number of guests can be sometimes challenging, especially if you do not really get them to listen to you. But you have to get used to that, and you can train it in front of mirrors, or even together with your colleagues.

Q: What do you like most about working on cruise ships?

A: One works with many young people from many different countries and this makes the job quite colorful and interesting. One sees a lot and has the chance to discover new destinations, to make many experiences and one has a kind of new family on board.

Q: Our last question is: what advice would you give to someone who is interested in pivoting to a Cruise Director position?

A: Stay yourself, don’t try to copy another person, be who you are and try to be like a sponge, so learn as much as possible on destinations, be curious and don’t be afraid of making mistakes.