Do people ever ask why you ever bothered learning ballroom dancing? As if there was never any reason other than money for learning to do anything you love. Well, if you are male who can at the least pass as being somewhere between 40-something and 70-ish and your ballroom dancing lessons have elevated you to the top of the class, then you may be just what some cruise ships are looking for in the little-advertised world of gentlemen hosts.
Many cruise ship companies (although less than before the Bush Recession, Part II) are willing to hire someone who could give those contestants on Dancing with the Stars a lesson or two. As long as you fit the above qualifications to serve as what the cruise ship industry terms, depending on the company, a gentlemen host, gentlemen dance host or social host. Keep in mind that the one thing the cruise ship industry does not call the position and will not accept from those who qualify is “gigolo.” In addition to being old enough and a good dancer, you will push yourself to the top of the list if there is something slightly Cary Grant-ish about you. At the lower end of the cruise scale you could probably still qualify even if there is only something Hugh Grant-ish about you. Introverts, boors and those who cannot control their liquor consumption need not even apply to become a gentlemen host on any but the most desperate cruise ship.
Keep in mind that gentlemen host or social host or gentlemen dance host or whatever it may be called is not technically a job. That is to say, it’s not a viable career path for those looking to leave port with a big fat check from the cruise ship. The benefits of having become something of a twinkletoes in your ball dancing class steps lies in the perks of being a gentlemen host. Both spoken and unspoken.
The spoken perks of becoming a gentlemen host include the chance to enjoy a cruise, share a nice cabin, eat good food and meet interesting people absolutely free. You will also enjoy deep discounts on alcoholic beverages (as long they are consumed in moderation), clothing and other assorted daily expenses. Not to mention the great likelihood of free round trip air transportation to and from the home port of the ship. In comparison to an actual job, being a gentlemen host on a cruise ship is closer to what is known as “vocation vacation.” With the exception that most cruise companies will pay you around a $30 a day rather than your having to pony up for the privilege.
What’s the catch, besides needing to be a good dancer, male, of a certain age and nearly as charming as Cary Grant and at least as charming as Hugh Grant?
Well, you have to enjoy the company of others. And not just the company of the prettiest single women aboard ship or the most interesting women taking a cruise or–especially–not the most, um…generous ladies on board. The duties of a gentlemen host is to be available to any paying female passenger on a cruise ship who wants to enjoy your dancing ability, company and charm. You must be equally adept at listening and practicing the fine art of conversation. The minute you exhibit even the slightest hint of favoritism toward any particular woman or hair color or body shape or even any general age group, the free ride comes to an end, you are booted off the cruise ship at the next port and you better have enough money to pay your own way home.
As for the ballroom dancing requirements to become a gentlemen host, if you cannot display a heightened grasp first grade ballroom dancing stuff like Fox Trot, Cha-Cha, Rumba, Waltz and Swing steps, go back to ballroom class. Even if your Fox Trot were good enough to get you on Dancing with the Stars provided you were a star of the caliber of Tucker Carlson or Albert Reed or Jake Pavelka , you could still face early termination and incur the full cost of getting back home if you routinely choose to exhibit your mastery of the Fox Trot right down the middle of the dancer floor rather than keeping to the faster-moving outside lanes. In other words, know not only your ballroom dancing moves, but where on a crowded cruise ship dance floor those moves are appropriate and where they aren’t.
If you can meet all these requirements and any others not listed here, not only can you become a gentlemen host, but you can answer that question about why you learned ballroom dancing.