Disney's Cruise Director Gets To Sail The World & Share Her Love Of Mickey For A Living
Carly Scott's voice is the first one you hear when you settle in your stateroom on the Disney Dream cruise ship. The intercom sounds to the tune of "When You Wish Upon A Star," to get your attention, before Scott, the cruise director for Disney Ships, greets guests with a message and safety instructions. For Scott, everything on the Disney Cruise Line is personal. "I don’t feel like you could do this job if you didn’t enjoy speaking with people, spending time with them, and whatever else," she tells Elite Daily. "Twenty percent of my job is guest facing."
The other 80% is, essentially, running any and all things entertainment-related on board. Scott oversees all of the port adventure activities, like the snorkeling on Disney's private island Castaway Cay, or swimming with dolphins in the Bahamas. She also oversees the team and staff that work at Disney Cruise Line's on-board club spaces and activities, and is in charge of certain lifeguards onboard who run the Aquaduck water coaster (on Disney Dream ships). Her reach even extends to the lifeguards at the kiddie pools on the ship's main deck, as different Disney movies play constantly throughout the day.
There is the whole other side of the role that, obviously, [guests] don’t see.
Throughout a three-night cruise, you might catch a glimpse of Scott mingling with guests on the main cruise ship floor, and regularly making appearances on stage before and after a Disney show, like Beauty and the Beast the musical, to say hello and offer cruise-goers additional insight into how the next day will run. (The ship has a different Broadway-caliber musical for guests each night on board.) According to Scott, it's supposed to look easy. "I think when [guests] see the cruise director they’re like, 'you just stand on stage and say random things,'" she says. "But there is the whole other side of the role that, obviously, they don’t see, and hopefully we try and make it look effortless."
Scott is also in charge of the crew activities manager (yup, there's actually someone whose job it is to plan events and fun for the crew on board each ship), and it really shows through in the guest services that the crew loves what they do each day. After the first night on my three-night cruise, the restaurant staff and I were already on a first-name basis. When you're on a huge cruise ship and may only know the one other person you came with, this one-on-one face time is more comforting than you think. But it's hard to interact with guests and make that connection personal if you're feeling unhappy in your role, and Scott knows that first-hand. "Our biggest asset is our crew so we wanna make sure they’re well taken care of," she says.
Scott began her journey with Disney 12 years ago in 2007, after signing just a three-month cruise contract to be a youth activities counselor. On Disney ships, there are countless activities reserved for pre-schoolers (6 months to 3 years), kids (3 to 12 years), tweens (11 to 14 years) teens (14 to 17 years), and adult-exclusive opportunities for those 18 and older. Parents can literally drop off their kids in the morning and have them entertained all day, and adults without children can get the most out of their experience without darting around small children.
After her three-month stint, the entertainment department created a new role and saw Scott as the perfect fit. She began working as different "characters" within the youth activities center — anything from a chef to a scientist — and stayed in the role for two years. Soon enough, she moved onto management as the overall activities manager on the ships, and eventually landed a role as assistant cruise director before moving into her current role as cruise director, where she serves on all the Disney Cruise ships, including Disney Magic, Disney Wonder, Disney Dream, and Disney Fantasy. Some people never use their college degrees for their day jobs, but for Scott, her double major in theatre and traveling tourism was almost bizarre kismet. "At the time, I was like, I must be mad. When am I ever going to use these [degrees]? But little did I know... here I am!" Scott says.
It’s a long journey to go through, but it’s such a rewarding path.
When you get to travel for a living (Scott works on all Disney cruises to the Bahamas, Alaska, Europe, and Hawaii), 12 years sort of just flies by. Besides being able to see some absolutely incredible destinations along the way, Scott also has a coveted schedule; she gets to be off the clock completely for 10 weeks after putting in 10 on the ships. For the 10 weeks she's "on," there are no days off. She works Monday through Sunday, and starts all over once the week is over. When she's on her off-season, she's stationed in her hometown of London. This is the perfect calling for anyone who can't stand being stuck behind a desk all day, or someone who just has a travel bug and wants to figure out how to get paid to do it.
Out of all the incredible places Disney Cruise Line travels to (including the Bahamas, Russia, and Hawaii), though, Scott says Alaska is the most breathtaking. "The grandeur of Alaska is unreal. It's so beautiful and you really do have to find time to go and see these places, but I definitely at least try and get off [the ship] at least once," Scott says.
One of the best things about Disney is how diverse its staff is. If you want to join Scott in living the #CruiseLife, it's easier than you think. Disney's agencies have successfully recruited individuals from more than 60 countries, according to Scott, and each team member's home country is proudly displayed on their name tags, so you can strike up a conversation with anyone from Asia to South Africa. It seems everyone in a managerial role has worked within the cruise line for years before being placed in a more senior position. The hotel director, Lloyd Machado, has also mentioned in an interview that he began as a server onboard.
I fell in love with the Disney product.
For those interested in becoming a cruise director specifically, Scott says it really is all about loving the Disney brand and being promoted from within. "It’s a long journey to go through, but it’s such a rewarding path, especially as you work your way up — though it doesn’t happen overnight. You really need to have a really good basis and understanding of the rest of your departments that are reporting to you."
If you aren't a Disney fanatic, this probably isn't the job for you, as each staff member is quick to share their personal history with the brand. For Scott, it was a trip to Disneyland Paris when she was younger that changed everything for her. "I fell in love with the Disney product from there on out," she says. "I was a bit of a tomboy before that and then I met the princesses. It was like hold on! Hold the phone, I found my calling."
Although it was the princesses that won Scott over, when I mention Mickey Mouse, a dreamy smile settles over her face. "Ah, the big cheese himself," she says. "We love that guy."