Inside Look: What It’s Like to be a Cruise Ship Performer

Going behind the scenes with a Royal Caribbean crew member.
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Sydney Brown became a gymnast at one-and-a-half years old; now, a professional acrobat and performer, she’s been working with Royal Caribbean since she was 19, bringing her acrobatic, diving and tumbling skills to shows on more than four ships. Currently, she’s onboard Harmony of the Seas, performing in its jaw-dropping AquaTheater shows “The Fine Line” and “Hideaway Heist.” As an experienced Royal Caribbean performer, she’s also one of the cruise line’s official crew ambassadors and the perfect person to ask about the world of entertainment at sea. She shared with us what goes into these electrifying performances.

What Might Surprise You

Expect Harmony’s AquaTheater shows to be more dynamic than your average theatergoing experience. “‘The Fine Line’” has so much going on that you almost don’t know where to look sometimes,” Sydney says. “We have so many elements happening at the same time—it’s busy! We really don’t stop until the show is over, and the music, lighting and projection are incredible. It’s a very visual and high-energy show.”

The productions also incorporate more elements than you’d expect in a typical two hours. “‘The Fine Line” is an adrenaline-pumping show with divers, synchronized swimmers, acrobats, dancers and slackliners,” Sydney says. “We have a 3D flying system, which allows the performers to fly around the entire venue. It’s really neat that we can break that barrier between the audience and the stage.” By contrast, “Hideaway Heist” is a comedy dive show. “We can be more silly and playful onstage and with the audience,” she says. “It’s a fun daytime show for the whole family.”

Want to see Sydney at work? Check out this video, courtesy of our friends at Thrillist.

Show Training Rivals Broadway’s

Even when she’s home or on vacation, Sydney eats relatively healthy, trains at her home gymnastics club and works out at a local gym. But she started rehearsals for these current shows three months from show time. “I went to Las Vegas for two weeks first, to learn the flying elements,” she says, then she was off to South Florida to the state-of-the-art Royal Caribbean Production Studio. Part of a partnership with Florida International University, the 32,500-square-foot facility has everything you could need to produce and redefine entertainment today.

“Once I arrived, I was rehearsing six days a week with the rest of my cast,” Sydney says. “We spent one week onboard Harmony’s sister-ship Allure of the Seas to use the AquaTheater and start staging the show before flying to France, where Harmony was in its final stages of construction. The show was like a giant puzzle, and when we began rehearsing onboard the ship, the pieces came together.”

Her Advice For Enjoying The Shows

Now that she performs the shows eight times a week, she and the cast are invested in delivering a top performance to each audience, whose reaction is one of her favorite parts of the entire experience. What should any theatergoing guest do when attending an AquaTheater show only found on Royal Caribbean? “Sit in the center and about four to seven rows back. Get there approximately 20 to 25 minutes before the show to get a good seat,” she advises. “We really feed off the audience, so we love when you guys are loud!”

Harmony of the Seas launched cruises to the eastern and western Caribbean out of Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, FL. on November 4. For more on Royal Caribbean’s cruise offerings, visit our site.

Sydney Brown is an AquaTheater acrobat and official crew ambassador for Royal Caribbean. Follow her adventures at sea on Instagram at @sydneybrown_xo.