PHOTO: Cruise director Matt Mitcham on Carnival Cruise Line's Carnival Vista. (Photo by Jason Leppert)
A cruise director can add lots of value to a vacation or simply blend into the background.
For example: My wife admits that the CD didn’t add much of anything to the equation on many of her earlier cruises, but she just got to experience one of my favorites for the first time and now understands how they can actually make or break the overall experience.
Here is a trio of the best cruise directors I've encountered. Interestingly, each hails from completely different categories and ships.
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Eric Dowis, Nieuw Amsterdam, Holland America Line
Eric Dowis is a rare breed of cruise director because he was the funniest there ever was, in my opinion. I say "was" because he is sadly no longer at sea.
Shoreside clubs are now loving him as his standup comedy career is catapulting him closer and closer to stardom.
Holland America Line’s Nieuw Amsterdam was probably not the best fit for him, but he sure was the highlight of the first “Dancing with the Stars: At Sea” Champions Cruise in 2014. Not only did he crack all of us up in the audience every time as a guest commentator, but he also consistently tickled the funny bone of pro dancers Tristan MacManus, Sharna Burgess, Jaymz Tuaileva and Kym Johnson as well.
In hindsight, maybe Carnival Cruise Line would have been a better venue for his hilarious CD antics.
I hope to one day see him onboard performing as a comedian at The Punchliner Comedy Club with the best of them.
READ MORE: Eric Dowis: Cruise Director Turned Comedian Sets Eyes Back on the Sea
Tony Markey, Azamara Quest, Azamara Club Cruises
Azamara Club Cruises has another gem with Tony Markey. He’s one of those cruise directors that, if he wasn't at sea, one might expect to see him on land as an EGOT (winner of Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony awards).
He’s equally entertaining and philosophical, leading Christian worship onboard the Azamara Quest as well. In fact, he almost went for a career in the ministry before pursuing song and dance instead.
Now he’s a talented vocalist and humorist that gets to see the world, delighting thousands of guests along the way. Particularly fascinating is a lecture he gives about his time at Seabourn when his luxury ship was attacked by pirates and he himself was almost shot (his ear was actually grazed).
Although it’s a frightening tale, it’s also captivating and one not to be missed if you ever have the chance to attend.
READ MORE: Ask A Cruise Director: Carnival's Matt Mitcham Tackles Your Questions
Matt Mitcham, Carnival Vista, Carnival Cruise Line
Back to more lightheartedness is the dynamo Matt Mitcham, who I originally met on the Carnival Breeze and my wife and I just enjoyed on the Carnival Vista. There’s no wonder why he gets to lead Carnival Cruise Line’s flagship: He effortlessly juggles all the fun entertainment and activity offerings onboard and never misses a beat.
He truly makes every single event he emcees a blast with his humorous ways.
We particularly loved how he single-handedly elevated already great programming like “Hasbro, The Game Show,” the “Quest” and even the otherwise generic love and marriage show with his great silliness.
All I can say is, senior cruise director John Heald should be proud. (From what I understand when my parents were on the Vista’s crossing to the States, the two of them were a riot on stage together.)
It’s definitely one of those situations where I now hope Matt will be the cruise director onboard every one of my Carnival cruises, although I know it’s not possible for him to be on 25 ships at a time. That's unfortunate.