The backbone of any show is the crew that takes the reins backstage. Productions on cruise ships also require stage managers – and in the AquaTheater onboard Royal Caribbean International’s Oasis of the Seas, the job description involves working underwater in the pool where the acrobatic divers plunge.
Peter Bolanis is head of stage staff on Oasis and also works as an underwater tech on the production show, Oasis of Dreams.
“I dive underwater during the show and watch all the performers as they dive in,” he says. “It’s incredible to be part of such an amazing show.”
When he’s not supervising in the AquaTheater, Bolanis sets up equipment for performers in other venues.
“Every day I work behind the scenes for all of the production shows, and I help the production managers, riggers and techs maintain and keep my assigned venue running smoothly,” he said.
Bolanis learned about career opportunities aboard Royal Caribbean cruise ships while he was attending Ithaca College in upstate New York.
“Royal Caribbean put on a career fair at the college that highlighted a number of jobs in their entertainment division. I was intrigued so I applied and then got my interview,” he said. “A month or two later I was in Barcelona, joining the Liberty of the Seas as stage staff!”
Although he gets the chance to sail to exotic ports of call in France, Spain, Jamaica and St. Maarten, his onboard time is packed with responsibilities.
“On land, you usually have huge teams of techs working in venues, but on ships the number of people is more limited. You have to learn to work smart, manage your time well and be ready to work long hours at times,” Bolanis said. “I am happy that I have developed these skills from working with Royal Caribbean.”
Like many cruise ship staffers, Bolanis feels the toughest part of the job is being away from loved ones for extended periods of time. However, traveling around the world and bonding with colleagues is one of the greatest aspects of living onboard, he says.
“You spend so much time with your coworkers that you can’t help but build strong ties of friendship with them. I have been working for Royal Caribbean for almost three years and I still have amazing friends from my first contract that I keep in touch with and visit on my vacations.”
Lifelong friends…and working underwater? Sounds like someone has it made.