It's a tough job, but someone's got to do it: Dance every night on a cruise ship


August 22, 1993|By New York Times News Service

Q: I am told single middle-aged men are sometimes given free trips by cruise lines if they will act as social hosts for single female passengers. Is this true?

A: A change of attitude has overtaken the cruise industry on the question of gentlemen hosts.

As recently as 1990 the existence of such a program, where single men act primarily as dance partners for female passengers in return for free passage and air travel, was not widely broadcast. Some cruise lines, it seemed, were concerned such a program would not be regarded as being "on the up and up," as a Royal Cruise Line spokeswoman put it.

Now, however, a growing number of lines, realizing such programs have been popular with women, who make up the majority of cruise passengers, openly seek men for the job, which calls for a gregarious personality and dancing skills. As a result, Royal Cruise Line and others find that some single women will book cruises repeatedly to dance in a non-threatening environment.

But with success there comes a price. Three lines, Delta, Cunard and Regency, use an agent to recruit and screen their hosts, and the agency, Lauretta Blake the Working Vacation, charges successful candidates $21 for each day of the cruise.

The hosts are generally aged 45 and up. Hosts include former teachers, entertainers and military men. Many are former passengers.

Following are six lines that want to get the word out:

* Royal Cruise Line, which began its program in 1982, seeks up to 12 men for each cruise by the Crown Odyssey, the Golden Odyssey and the Royal Odyssey. The company prefers that candidates first be screened through a travel agent.

* Royal Viking Line puts four hosts on each Royal Viking Sun cruise and five to six hosts on cruises

longer than 50 days. Write to the manager of special programs at 95 Merrick Way, Coral Gables, Fla. 33134.

* The Delta Steamboat Co. uses two hosts on each of the 50 annual departures of the Mississippi Queen along the river. Write to Lauretta Blake the Working Vacation, 4277 Lake Santa Clara Drive, Santa Clara, Calif. 95054; call (408) 727-9665.

* Cunard runs the host program on the QE2, Sagafjord and Vistafjord. Write to Lauretta Blake the Working Vacation.

* Regency Cruises recruits hosts through Lauretta Blake for its cruises to New England, Canada, Alaska, Hawaii and South America, through the Panama Canal and on some Caribbean voyages.

* Holland America Line goes one step better than free passage. It recruits and pays men to act as hosts on its "grand voyages" -- the Grand Orient South Pacific cruise next month, a world cruise starting next Jan. 20 and a 62-day cruise to Australia and New Zealand in the fall of 1994. Write to the entertainment department, 300 Elliott Ave. West, Seattle, Wash. 98119.

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