With three days’ notice and two suitcases by my side, I flew to Tampa, Florida in December of 2022 to begin rehearsing for a world cruise. I was told I’d be learning four major production shows, two smaller shows, and with those came a new title: Cruise Ship Production Vocalist. The Regent Seven Seas Splendor; the most luxurious cruise ship in the world, would be my new home for the next year. How ironic, then, that my interior cabin, though perfectly suitable and clean, wouldn’t even have a window.
As we prepared for the journey that would take us through the Caribbean, across the Atlantic, and ultimately throughout Europe, we, the Production Cast, were greeted with a host of Human Resource videos and training. Our cast was already comprised of performers from the United States, England, Australia, Canada, and Scotland, but we were learning that we would soon join 700 additional crew members from the Philippines, France, India, Colombia, Serbia, Croatia, Ukraine, and many more nations as well. Our training focused on doing our best to be mindful of the quiet hours on the ship, as people worked around the clock and rested when they could. Lessons on maintaining hygiene was a must, seeing that these were very close quarters. This was my first opportunity to truly work with people from all over the world.
Upon arrival, we started meeting seasoned cruise ship employees, and I was completely caught off guard by how nicely everyone treated one another. Smiles when you walked down the corridors, a “good morning” from every person you passed, with anyone willing to show you the way because navigating the ship was not yet second nature to me. These people, who’d come from around the world, were excited to be working together. You could feel it.
As time passed, I became accustomed to “ship life” and the coming and going of different crew members. After making a new friend, I’d then be sad to see them leave for their vacation or their next contract. I’d be elated for my favorite ship barista who would finally be reunited with his small daughter after 6 months of on-board services. The world on the ship felt so small, and your coworkers soon felt like family. We ate together, worked together, enjoyed travel together, and lived life together.
The ultimate takeaway for me, a 25-year-old singer, was the focus on communication. We all came from different cultures, different familial backgrounds, different walks of life. However, when we were at work, we connected over shared feelings of missing loved ones, and where we came from, ultimately our different “why’s” for being on board the ship.
Learning from all those amazing individuals brought to life a valuable lesson that I knew but hadn’t seen in action like I did then. We are all the same at our core. We are people with stories. We bring so much to the table when we’re willing to share those stories with others. Vulnerability helps solidify connection, and empathy builds trust.
I found it very serendipitous that my next stop after the ship would be taking a position at Braintrust, where I learned the science behind all that I’ve just spoken with you about. At Braintrust, we coach and teach organizations these same principles I learned on board Splendor, the ones I’d see in action every day below decks of a cruise ship in the middle of the ocean. If understanding it there worked to my advantage, imagine what it could do for you? Because remember, it doesn’t matter where you come from, human connection changes lives.