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A DAY IN THE LIFE: Kelly Rose, Celebrity Cruises Cruise Director

In an industry dominated by men, Celebrity Eclipse Cruise Director Kelly Rose has built an amazing career at sea.

Kelly Rose is one of the leading ladies on the Celebrity Cruises fleet.

Starting as a Junior Assistant Cruise Director after an early career in event management, Kelly Rose has emerged as one of the stars of the Celebrity Cruises fleet. 

In an industry dominated by men, Rose has carved out a stellar presence controlling all the passenger-facing elements that make up the Celebrity experience. 

In a new series from Traveltalk, we find out what a typical day is like (if such a thing really exists) in the world of tourism operators all over the world.


When did you know you wanted to spend your career at sea?

My father always inspired me to follow my passion. He was the perfect example of someone that studied hard, landed their dream role (he was a civil engineer) and loved it so much that he stayed at the same company for over 35 years.

My love of cruising however and desire for a life at sea really started to form when I was a teen and my family and I went on a South Pacific cruise. During the cruise, I was in awe of the activities team and attended all of the events and activities on board that I could. I remember thinking to myself ‘I could do that!’, but honestly had no idea that being a Cruise Director was even a career option.

With a strong desire to travel the world, I made my way to Europe where I began a career in event
management. I worked for some time in London and Switzerland, and once these contracts were up, I returned to Australia and started job hunting. When I saw the ad for a Junior Assistant Cruise Director role, I remember feeling this overwhelming spark, and immediately knew this was what I wanted to do.

The rest, they say, is history!

Not a bad office to walk around - hopefully Kelly never gets lost!

For those eager to follow your lead, what are the first steps to take to chase a dream as a senior officer at sea?

As someone who has been in this industry for 14 years, the first step to take is to get as much hands-on experience as possible to help you in your role.

Even working off a cruise ship, it’s great to get experience in a related field - my years spent working in event management gave me so many transferable skills that are crucial to my role as a  Cruise Director now.

Working onboard, don’t be shy to put your hand up for new or out-of-your-comfort-zone tasks. On a cruise ship, you work with an incredibly tight knit team, so utilise the moments you get to spend with those who have more experience and soak up their knowledge.

Working as a junior assistant Cruise Director, I would always be the first person to volunteer to help get a task done and this can-do attitude definitely helped make myself known across the ship.

I am fortunate as Celebrity Cruises also offers plenty of opportunities for self-development, both online and shoreside [and] when opportunities like this arise, I always recommend using the resources to help develop your skills.

However, my best advice for anyone looking to take the first steps to pursue a career at sea would be to stay persistent and follow your passion - look out for that spark. Once you have the skills and the experience, the right role will be waiting for you. In the meantime, keep on learning from those around you and developing your skills, this will never fail to help you land your dream role at sea.

With a constantly changing view, no two days are ever the same for Kelly.

What are some of the ships you have worked on and how did you end up at Celebrity Cruises?

I landed my first role in 2009 as a Junior Assistant Cruise Director, travelling on a 1,800 passenger ship on 10-day Alaskan itineraries from San Francisco. It was at this role that I worked my way up to Assistant Cruise Director, Deputy Cruise Director and finally to Cruise Director in 2015.

I joined the Celebrity Cruises team in 2019, sailing on Celebrity Solstice, and most recently, on Celebrity Eclipse for her local Australia, New Zealand and South Pacific season, where I had the pleasure of exploring our close to home destinations.

In the three years I have worked as a Cruise Director with Celebrity Cruises, I can honestly say I’ve loved every minute and am so grateful to work for such a fantastic brand that champions diversity and inclusion. The onboard team are very close and I feel very lucky to have such a stellar group of people to work with everyday.

As the Cruise Director, Kelly is a bit of a celebrity in her own right.

What are the best parts of your job? And the worst...if there are any?

The best thing about being a Cruise Director is that every day is different! There aren’t many jobs that give you the opportunity to travel around the world while at work. I love being able to wake up in new and exciting destinations each morning and start each day at sea.

Don’t get me wrong, I look on enviously as our guests soak in the luxury on their holiday, but I’m lucky enough to travel to amazing places year-round, without having to be off the clock! I’ve had so many pinch-me travel moments that never would have happened if it weren’t for this job.

That being said, the most rewarding part of my role is getting to be the familiar face that our guests see every day. I love walking around the ship and chatting to everyone, making sure they feel welcome and have a holiday they’ll never forget.

While it can be challenging adjusting to a career on cruise ships at first, like being away from friends and family for periods of time, I would recommend a life at sea to anyone.

From the incredible people you meet to the learning and growth opportunities, and of course the travel perks, it's such a unique and rewarding lifestyle. That’s what we call it: A life at sea. Not a job at sea. Because working at sea is not just a career, it’s a lifestyle.

Kelly has worked on both Celebrity Solstice and Celebrity Eclipse since joining in 2015.

What does a typical day involve as a Cruise Director?

Each day kicks off with the morning announcements, where I give our guests a rundown of the daily onboard activities and information about the day’s port of call. I love the ship-wide announcements as I get to greet the entire cruise.

Typically, the rest of my day is usually then broken up between crew meetings, coordinating and hosting onboard activities and making sure the day’s entertainment runs smoothly. From there, each day can be different; from planning new games to overseeing the day’s entertainment schedule and making ship-wide announcements, I’m constantly on the go.

The onboard games are really special to me, as they are a fantastic opportunity to bring passengers together, especially at the beginning of everyone’s holiday. I love seeing guests come out of their shell, getting to know each other and having a laugh - and what better way to make new friends than while at sea.

From bowling to ship scavenger hunts, I’m always coming up with new ideas and it’s really rewarding seeing our guests connect and create friendships as part of these activities.

When it comes to evening activities, The Theatre is where it’s at! We host two shows every evening and you’ll find me greeting all of our guests before the shows start. Seeing their faces light up as they take their seats and the excitement building is such a buzz. And not to mention, I love celebrating our incredible cruise talent as I welcome them onto the stage too.

One of the perks of being the Cruise Director is I normally get a front row seat to all the amazing performances - I could watch the shows night after night, they never get old!

I usually spend the end of the day unwinding in my cabin and going over all the fun activities planned for the next day of the cruise. It takes some organisation skills to keep the cruise activities running smoothly, but I enjoy planning the schedule as I know our guests appreciate the effort and it’s rewarding to see how much fun they have.

You can find Kelly greeting guests virtually anywhere on the ship.

Have you formed any close personal bonds that have continued even when you or others have changed ships or changed jobs?

The first person I met and shared a room with, a lovely girl from Ireland, has become a great lifelong friend and we still stay in contact almost 15 years later. I was recently able to catch up with her while we were in port one day. She now lives in the Caribbean with her husband and daughter, and it was nice to be able to stay connected to friends all over the world!

I have also met and connected with so many great people at Celebrity Cruises - it's one of the many perks of the job - you form really close relationships with people when you live together at sea, with all the crew members working together as a tight knit team. Everyone is always willing to lend a hand and help out, or provide guidance to help another crew member progress.

Part of Kelly's role involves introducing the evening's theatre entertainment.

Have you ever experienced any gender bias in an industry so dominated by males? How have you navigated around that?

When I first started working as a Junior Assistant Cruise Director, my first four Cruise Directors were male, so I never had ambitions to be a Cruise Director because I had not seen someone like me in that role. However, it was eventually a male Cruise Director who shifted my perception.

Positively challenging me, I was empowered to make decisions and improve my leadership skills. An extremely encouraging leader and mentor that wanted to see me succeed, he put me forward for my first Cruise Director role - covering a two-month contract - which eventually led to securing a permanent position. I wouldn’t be where I am today without him, and it’s fantastic to see that both men and women are working together to build each other up in this industry.

Kelly's advice to others is to connect with those in a similar role and follow your dream.

What does it mean to be an industry leader and what is the key message you would like to send to those unsure about a life at sea?

I think it is the responsibility of anyone in a high-level position, like the one I am grateful to find myself in, to bring others up and help those around you succeed.

My first female Cruise Director was instrumental in building my confidence and was the first person who helped me believe in myself and see that I could be a great Cruise Director myself one day.

The last Cruise Director I worked with was instrumental to getting me to where I am today - he positively challenged me and empowered me to make decisions. It was his communication skills that made him a great leader and mentor.

I hope through being in this position, I can help support juniors on their seafaring journey just like the many Cruise Directors I worked under supported me.

From the moment I applied for my first role in cruising, I felt a spark that told me I was following my passion and even though it was daunting, I’m so glad I made the leap.

For those that are unsure about a life at sea, my advice would be to do your research and gain as much experience as you can. Test the waters and figure out what you like - volunteer, connect with someone in a similar role and pick their brain and give it a go! See where your passion takes you.


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Written by: Matt Lennon
Published: 14 March 2023

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