If your partner doesn’t like to dance, or you’re cruising alone, don’t worry that you won’t have a partner to dance or dine with onboard. Some cruise lines such as Regent, Crystal, Cunard and Silversea have Gentlemen Hosts that are there to step in.
Evert Osterdahl from New York is an accomplished ballroom dancer, as are all hosts. He was hired by a talent agency called Lauretta Blake/The Working Vacation to accompany any single or married women who need dining or dancing partners on cruise lines such as Regent’s Voyager in 2004. The host plays a small fee to the agency (about $30/day) and the cruise is usually free.
“I read an article in New York Dance Scene Magazine about cruise gentlemen hosts,” says Osterdahl. “I’m a member the United Ballroom Dancing Association and love to travel. After reading the article I took early retirement and signed up. I have extreme wanderlust. I want to go everywhere.”
On board he is to work wherever and whenever music is playing. He circulates to the bars and lounges in the evenings, and the pool deck during the day. He usually watches for women who are tapping their feet to see who might want a dance partner.
“If the woman has her husband with her, I always ask for his consent first,” says Osterdahl. “The husband usually says something like, ‘Please, yes, dance with her so I can go to the casino’.”
Single women can also meet in in a designated lounge if they want to register for a dinner companion. “I’ve only had one experience where the woman wanted a companion for a lot more than dinner and dancing,” he says. “You learn to how politely excuse yourself from a situation like that and say you have to circulate and dance with the other ladies.”
Osterdahl takes delight in getting to know so many people on board. He wears a name tag with his title on it and passengers are curious about his duties. “I find that some of the older women could dance all night. I often hear, “I haven’t danced like that in 30 years. Thank you!’”
As you can imagine, background checks are detailed and thorough and most hosts have a background in business, law, finance, travel, medicine, education or the military. Ages range from a bout 40 to 70 and many are retired or semi-retired. Benefits for hosts include the cruise, dining room privileges, inclusion in shore excursions sometimes, beverage and laundry allowance, and sometimes airfare.
Photo: Lauretta Blake/TheWorkingVacation