"We're having a hug fest," talented Grand Princess Cruise Director (CD), Keith Cox, began his online chat with Cruisemates. Our host for this night was Kuki who kept the mates sailing along as they queried Keith for a full hour.
Hailing from Knoxville, Tennessee, Keith Cox has seen action on Princess ships Star, Regal, Crown, Pacific, Island, Sea, Sky, the original Sun and the new Sun. His favorite ships are the Grand Princess and the Star Princess. "I work four months on and have two months off. I go home for vacation and stay there." He truly enjoys his time with his wife and six-year-old daughter. Fun things to do include playing golf and roller blading.
Starting as a singer/dancer in 1986, Keith became Cruise Director in 1988. So, what's the best part of being CD, Keith? "The people." How hard is it to keep all those passengers happy? "It's the experience and timing that make the difference." Why don't we see more of you in person? "Eighty per cent of my job is behind the scenes as a senior manager. On the Grand it's 150-170 staff, musicians, production and fitness people, youth staff, etc."
So how much sleep do you get, Keith? "I average about 5 hours a day for the duration of my 4 month contract. The bigger the ships, the longer the hours." Ever worked for another cruise line? "No, I'm hooked on one gal." How about your funniest moment as CD, Keith? "One was getting kicked out of my own cabin to let two female singers sleep in my bed when their cabins were flooded out." And where did you go? "I slept in a bunk bed with the assistant cruise director!" [No one asked to clarify that!!!]
What's the best-kept secret of the Grand Princess? "The ultimate choice. No other ship in the industry offers the flexibility, food and entertainment. There are six boutiques and it has the largest casino afloat." Bigger than the Voyager? "Yes, bigger than the Voyager."
The Golden Princess is coming out soon. Where will it cruise? "It will do 12-day Mediterranean cruises in the summer, and the Caribbean in fall and winter. Ultimately, the Golden will take over what the Grand has been doing, alternating the Eastern/Western Caribbean all year round." How long will the Pacific Princess be around? "For as long as people want it. Built in 1970, it's the oldest, smallest, and the original Love Boat."
Keith had some questions of his own. "What do you think about no reservations in dining rooms at night? No set table assignments?" There were many responses, including preferences for assigned seating, especially for dinner. It seems a lot hate waiting for early diners to leave and make room for late diners. Others prefer open seating so they can meet more people.
And "how do you all like formal night?" Keith asked. Significantly, the responses were quite supportive. People enjoy the free drinks, meeting the captain, being made to feel special, dressing up, and the change of pace.
"Who do you want as CD on the Golden Princess?" he asked about three times. Nobody ever answered. Keith, do we really have to say it. They want YOU! So what's next, Keith? "I'll be on the Grand from June 29-October 03. Hope to be home for the holidays." And the future, do you have another job in mind? "I enjoy being CD. Love the performance aspect of it and its potential for creativity. However, I could possibly play with the idea of going shore side and still be involved in the industry. I'll wait to see for 2001."
"Everyone, it's been a pleasure. Keep on cruising. Have a great time ahead!" Well, Keith, it was a pleasure on the Regal and now again being online with you and the other cruisemates this June. Thanks for making this such a special moment. I hope we'll being seeing you again on another beautiful Princess ship.