Guest Blog by Cody Phillips, Adventure Ocean Manager
I believe it was around a year ago that a fellow Adventure Ocean Manager messaged me to let me know that she was going to do a “Barbie Cruise.” I imagined a sea of pink, Pantone 219c to be exact, and a ship full of excited young girls running around with their Barbie dolls. I giggled, just a little, and then had a moment of relief that she was the one tackling the project. Little did I know that one day I would be on the world’s largest cruise ship playing my part, Ken doll in hand, in the Barbie Premium Experience.
There I stood on our crew passageway deemed “I 95”, staring at a mountain of boxes stamped “Attention: Adventure Ocean Manager.” Surrounded by Fashion Design kits, Barbie room décor, tutus, purple beads and pink boas, I realized I had no idea what I was in for. Flashes of childhood memories with my cousins flickered through my brain, and I realized my biggest exposure to Barbie dated back 20+ years when I used to bring my Batman action figures to my cousins’ Barbie playhouse. By the way, I still don’t think it’s fair that their dolls got a spa with real bubble action, while my Batcave had a swinging trap door at most. One could then assume that before organizing the launch of the Barbie Premium Experience onboard, my familiarity with the Barbie brand was lacking. To my surprise, it didn’t take much effort to jump right into the experience.
One binder with procedures and CDs, four of my Barbie-enthusiast staff, lots of pink pastry tasting, a few Mermaid Dance classes and trial Fashion Shows later, we had ourselves a Premium Experience. It took weeks of onboard preparation to launch, but only a moment to realize the magic of Barbie coming to Royal Caribbean International.
It’s not just an organized time to play with your Barbie dolls, although there will be plenty of time to exchange fashion tips, dream of new dolls and discuss the best accessories. It is a time for the participants to share their love for everything Barbie, make new friends and create lasting vacation memories. It’s interesting how every week we have fathers that play a “behind the scenes” role when bringing their children to the experience, but come the Fashion Design workshop and you will always find at least one of the dads applying glitter or stenciling a pattern onto a Barbie dress. Week after week, the integrity of the Barbie Premium Experience never falters, which proves one point: that the staff involved also love the program. When my staff first got their hands on the Barbie packages you could see their childhood Barbie excitement come to life. It was almost impossible to tear them away from their dolls and the pink trunks stocked with fashion accessories!
During one of our “Tiaras and Teacups” parties, I decided to wear one of the pink tiaras, for participation purposes only of course! Well, I received a phone call and had to run to another venue on the ship. Little did I know that I, a 6’1’’ male, dressed in a dark blue suit, covered the entire length of the ship, twice, through guest and crew areas, with a tiara on my head. My final destination was Guest Services, where I needed to tend to a guest. Luckily, the initial tone of the conversation was lightened up by the glimmering diamonds and pink swirls that rested on my head. Let me tell you, there is nothing like trying to lead a serious conversation while not knowing you are wearing a tiara! At the end all was resolved, although I haven’t been able to shake the nickname “Barbie”, which was given to me by my fellow crew members.
I never imagined that Barbie would reappear in such a significant way in my life, and the Barbie Premium Experience has been an amazing journey so far. For the first time in my life I can confidently say that I look forward to anything Barbie in the future. Just remember, if you are ever somewhere and you witness a group of people in their 20’s and 30’s doing the “Mermaid Dance,” you can bet your money that they are Youth Staff for Royal Caribbean.