Amanda Poulson has come full circle. In 2012, her Azamara journey began as a Featured Singer aboard The Quest. In 2019, she returned to The Quest as the fill-in Cruise Director. And now, in 2021, we’re happy to announce that she will be taking on the role of permanent Cruise Director aboard The Quest — a position Amanda describes as feeling a bit like coming home.
Recently, we sat down with Amanda to discuss the journey that brought her to this new role, her return to The Quest, and to catch up after a year most of us will never forget! Here are some highlights from that chat.
Congratulations on your new role, Amanda! How do you plan to make this position unique to you?
Thank you! I’m so happy to be returning to The Quest and excited to expand my personal entertainment offerings. While we were on The Pursuit during our unexpectedly long last voyage, I created a second Headliner Show. I’ve continued working on this show during this hiatus, as well as new solo sets for the Living Room. There will also be a new show with my Assistant Cruise Director. I even have some new songs I’m excited to add to White Night, which is my favorite night of the voyage.
When did you know that you wanted to work in the cruise industry?
I knew many performers who told me about their jobs, seeing the world by day and singing by night, so in 2008 I took a chance and joined Royal Caribbean as a Featured Singer. I was unsure of what to expect or if I would even like ship life. After nine months at sea, I returned home, sold my car, sold my condo, and put everything I owned into a storage unit. I knew it would be a long time before I would have a life on land again. I truly found my home away from home, performing at sea.
What will be the most significant change from the associate position to becoming the Cruise Director?
Being the Permanent Cruise Director on a vessel means you truly set the tone for the entertainment program. You get to make a massive contribution to the overall guest experience. I’m excited to be the head of the department running a team of twenty, including musicians, entertainers, technical staff, and that the buck stops with me at the end of the day. My fiancé, Matt (Future Cruise Sales Associate), and I live on board together — so I have to confess — I’m also excited to be moving to a bigger cabin.
What is your favorite part of working with Azamara?
The Azamara Family. While that often refers to our guests, it also refers to our team onboard. There is a reason that our guests feel welcomed and comfortable when they are sailing with us, and that’s because our crew is truly welcoming them into our home. We work together, live together, laugh together, and cry together. The main joy of my job is working with the most incredible crew at sea. There is nothing more satisfying than sitting down at the end of the day with my friends and colleagues and seeing the smiles of satisfaction that come from a job well done, born of our hard work and creativity. We get to go to sleep knowing that we have delivered our guests an experience they will always remember.
What is one of your most treasured memories from working with Azamara?
The maiden voyage of the Azamara Pursuit. Tony, my mentor and the Cruise Director of Azamara’s newest vessel, ruptured his retina and had to have emergency eye surgery. He was sent home on medical leave just a few hours before our first guests were going to begin boarding. I had a month of wet dock in Belfast with Tony (Cruise Director), Ryszard (Hotel Director), and Captain Carl for training and coaching to be the Assistant CD. But and suddenly, here I was in charge. I will never forget being on the Bridge as we prepared for the first Passenger Boat Drill with Captain Carl standing by my side, encouraging me. I learned so much during that first voyage, but the best part was every morning when I made my way to the office, I could feel the support from my fellow crew members: my Azamara Family helped me be successful in a very challenging situation.
Do you have a favorite onboard activity, performance, or event? What made it so special?
My second contract as a Production Singer for Azamara was on The Journey with Cruise Director Eric DeGray. He encouraged me to start preparing my own material outside of the shows, so I put together a small set of songs. I was told it would be a casual event on the pool deck called “Opera Under The Stars”. When I arrived for soundcheck, I was shocked to see a full buffet dinner set up, guaranteeing that nearly the entire ship would be present for my show. I was so nervous, and I couldn’t cancel — it was in motion! I swore I would never forgive Eric for putting me in that position. Eight years later, I’ll never be able to thank him enough. It was the push that I needed to step out of my comfort zone, and I’m still doing a version of that show to this day. A few nights after that performance, we had dinner together, and he encouraged me to think about becoming a Cruise Director. I was flattered, but I thought he was crazy. Go figure.
Do you have any guest interactions or stories that made an impact on your career? May you share that experience with us?
On one voyage, I met some guests traveling with us from Denmark. When I mentioned that my family, quite far back, was from Denmark, they asked me where. To my utter disbelief, they were from the same place, the Island of Bornholm, a very small Danish island in the Baltic Sea off the south coast of Sweden. We had such a wonderful chat, and I confessed I hoped to visit the island in the course of researching my family history. The very next year, the Azamara Quest sailed to the Island of Bornholm as a part of its itinerary. I reached out to Gitte, who generously met me at the ship, gave me a tour of her beautiful island, and showed me the area that was once home to my ancestors. It was absolutely magical, and I’ll never forget her kindness. Our guests are the best!
What are you most looking forward to when we can travel again?
The food!!! My favorite part about traveling is enjoying local cuisine. Pasta in Italy, phở in Vietnam, meatballs in Sweden, jerk chicken in the Caribbean, steak in Argentina — I love it all! I jump at the chance to go on any of the shore excursions that have tastings or cooking lessons. I genuinely believe the best way to experience a culture is to eat like a local.
Once safe, where do you want to travel first?
While I love exploring new places, I’m honestly looking forward to some of my old favorites. Ports like Livorno and Civitavecchia in Italy often get lost in the shadows of Rome and Florence, but they have some wonderful places for shopping and some really spectacular meals. Livorno is a favorite amongst the crew for great pizza.
Is there somewhere Azamara travels that you think is underrated?
Santorini. There is so much more to visiting Santorini than just enjoying the view in Fira. Oia, in particular, is visually stunning. I always recommend our shore excursions because the tender delivers you to a different spot on the island to pick up your bus. You don’t have to make your own way to the top of the city, and you get to enjoy the cable car coming back down when you are finished. The water in Santorini also has a lot to offer. I have done some incredible scuba diving in the caldera; the volcanic landscape is even more breathtaking under the sea. Also, Akrotiri is my favorite archeological site in the world — the city was flourishing 4,000 years before Pompeii was even founded. The ancient Therians were such an advanced society, and you can walk down their streets and see into their homes. It’s an exemplary glimpse into an ancient time that takes my breath away. Now, I haven’t seen the pyramids in Egypt yet, so maybe someday they will claim the top spot, but for now, my heart is in Akrotiri.
We’d like to congratulate Amanda once again on her new role and for taking the time to chat with us. We can’t wait to see what you have in store for entertainment aboard The Quest again soon! Be sure to stay up to date on all things Azamara by following us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter and subscribing to our email newsletter.