Curious Cruise Jobs: North Star Operator

Meet The Staffer Who Goes to New Heights to Give You the Best Views.
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Working on a cruise ship is a pretty unique experience, no matter the gig. But imagine if your job was to operate a first-of-its-kind observation capsule that brings guests more than 300 feet above sea level, then maneuver it around for unprecedented views. Sound hard to explain? It is.

“A lot of people don’t understand right away [when I tell them about my job],” says Rahnee Schmaltz of Anthem of the Seas “so I have to explain a little bit about what the ride actually is.”

That ride is the North Star, an experience you can only have on Anthem or her sister ship, Quantum of the Seas. A glass-encased viewing “pod” rises like a crane from the ship’s top deck, then rotates for 250 degrees for panoramic views of the open sea and, sometimes, the ship’s port cities. “It’s a phenomenal experience for people who want to try something a little different on a cruise ship,” says the North Star operator.

Here’s what Schmaltz’s job is like: During two three-hour shifts per day, she and another operator take turns riding the pod, AKA gondola, and manning operations on deck, ensuring that everything is working safely and smoothly. Another goal? Making sure that passengers (up to 14 of them per ride) are having a blast.

“You’ll get families that are so excited about it, and they’ll be running around the gondola, back and forth to each window trying to get their photos,” Schmaltz says. “And then you have your older couples who come in and they’re just quiet. They just want to enjoy how beautiful it is, because they’ve been cruising for years and it’s a new view for them. No matter who you are or what kind of lifestyle you have, everyone enjoys something different from it.”

Royal Caribbean International launches Quantum of the Seas, the newest ship in the fleet, in November 2014. The North Star at sunset

Royal Caribbean International launches Quantum of the Seas, the newest ship in the fleet, in November 2014.
The North Star at sunset

How can you make the most of your North Star experience? Put down the camera, at least for a moment. “People get in there and forget to look and enjoy being in there!” Schmaltz says. “Take your pictures, but also look out the window, enjoy the moment and you’ll have a nicer experience.”

Ready to see the best views at sea? Check out where Anthem is sailing next. And learn more about Schmaltz’s work on the North Star in the above video.

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