Hosts Help Float a Lady's Boat
The Salt Lake Tribune
remembers one of his ocean cruise dance partners well.
she told him, marked the first time in 15 years that a man had put
his arms around her.
"There are not
enough single men, fortunately for me, that travel to supply enough
people to dance with," Hopkins says. "Most of the single people traveling
For these single
ship cruisers, Hopkins plays gentleman host -- paid by the cruise
lines to dance and delight the paying clientele.
But don't call
Hopkins, a retired accountant from California, a gigolo. Hosts are
forbidden from state-room dalliances.
who travel "like cruises because they don't have to worry about taxis
and where they are going to eat," Hopkins says. "They only have to
unpack once and don't have to worry about where they are."
are hired, gentleman hosts must pass a background check and agree
not to engage in intimate activity with the passengers. They also
must pass a dance test.
A few of the
hosts are gay. That's fine, say the women, who are more concerned
about a companion who won't step on their toes.
In return for
dancing and socializing, hosts receive free airfare, cruise and laundry,
and they don't have to tip the crew.
the tables have turned. Hopkins and some of the women who enjoy dancing
with gentleman hosts complain that a few cruise lines, in an effort
to save money, have asked hosts to pay their own airfare and to start
"We dance seven
days a week, three hours a night, and don't get paid," Hopkins says.
"Entertainers get all this paid for them. It's not fair, and I won't
a cruise veteran from Phoenix who spends four or five months in an
average year aboard a ship, warns that if cruise lines do away with
the hosts and she's left without a dancing partner, she will quit
wants to see the floor show," she says. "I've seen it all, and it's
Not to worry,
says Heather Sheats of the Florida-based Norwegian and Orient cruise
are important on longer cruises, Sheats says. "They provide a pleasant
experience for older women traveling alone."
The host program
is such a big part of the Orient line's cruises that there are no
plans to make hosts pay their airfare or tips, Sheats says.
be good news to gentleman hosts such as Hopkins. On your next cruise,
he will be the guy wearing the blue blazer, white shirt, tan pants,
red tie and white shoes.
Ask him to dance.
Salt Lake Tribune
Tom Wharton is an adventure reporter for
The Salt Lake Tribune, and the author of many books about the
outdoors. His article, "FANCY DANCERS: Cruise Hosts Help
Float a Lady's Boat", was originally published in The
Salt Lake Tribune on August 29, 2002. It has been reprinted
here with permission.
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