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Cruisemates Teen Host Says Goodbye

Dan Polulak, the young man who started out as CruiseMates' teen area editor almost three years ago, at the age of 15, has done a lot of growing. He not only grew his humble honorific as CruiseMates' Teen Host into the beginning of a larger journalistic career, he also managed to get himself hired aboard a Carnival cruise ship this last summer, a job a lot of teens dream about.

So, Dan says goodbye to CruiseMates, tells us a little bit about his journey, and what it is like to work on a cruise ship, giving all teens his recommendations on how to make the most of their cruises.

Yes, CruiseMates is looking for a new teen host to fill Dan's shoes. Please send your resume to the attention of editor@cruisemates.com. - editor.

  Article continues below

So Long CruiseMates. See You Onboard.
By Dan Polulak
CruiseMates Teen Editor

Sept. 4, 2006

It is amazing to think that less than 6 months ago I was sailing and participating as a guest in the Carnival Cruise Lines Club O2 program for teens. Today, I am working aboard the Carnival Miracle as a director of a Club O2 for teens. Now, I am sure a lot of teens reading this would consider working on a cruise ship to be a dream job, so let me tell you how I got here.

First of all, a thank you to CruiseMates, because I don't think I would be here now without them. As a teen, working and writing for CruiseMates is more than a "job," it is a privilege because it is such a great way to build your resume for the kind of exciting job you want to have in life.

So, I will be telling you about my job on the cruise ship in a minute, but let's start at the beginning.

How Did I get My Job at Cruisemates?
In September of 2003, the current teen host, Lauren, had left the position open and the person who was hired to replace her just never showed up to do her job. Let that be a lesson, fellow teens - follow through. Sometimes the simplest thing in the world, just showing up, makes all the difference in the world.

The teen message boards were full of questions. So Cruisemates held auditions where they asked several teens to write a few paragraphs about their most memorable cruise experience. Everyone who contributed to that article, Teen Memories, was paid $25, but I was selected out of the group to be the new host.

At 15, I started writing articles and answering questions on the boards; just giving my opinion on cruises that I've been on. Now, almost 3 years later, to say the least it has been an awesome experience! Working for Cruisemates has given me the opportunity to cruise frequently and meet people who are already vital, and will be vital to my future in the travel industry.

Here is a great example; It was just an average day at my old "regular" job at a grocery store, when I started talking to a woman about cruises. Her name is Anita Geddes, and what I did not know is that she is a publisher for a magazine named Florida Travel and Lifestyles. As I told her about Cruisemates and all the cruises I have been on, I hinted that I would be thrilled to write an article for her magazine. She gave me her business card and told me to be in contact with her. Flash forward to March of 2006 edition of Florida Travel and Lifestyles and you can see my first published article- "Best Cruises for Your Teen." It really is funny to be able to walk into a major bookstore and see the title of an article you wrote on the cover of a magazine, almost surreal.

Getting My Job With Carnival Cruise Lines
It is amaz Sometimes things in life just happen naturally, and a little effort in the right direction goes a long way. To build on my newfound writing career, I sent emails to anyone who might offer me an assignment, including the cruise lines. One of my emails was forwarded to the Supervisor of Teen Activities for Carnival, a man named Zack Miller. We started writing back and forth, because he knew me as the teen editor for CruiseMates, and he wanted to tell me about the new Club O2 carnival was creating.

Months passed, with him sending me new details of Club O2. Finally, I was able to get a glimpse of what the first Club O2 looked like as a passenger on the Carnival Legend, and eventually in December 2005, coming as a complete surprise to me, I was offered a job as a Club O2 director for the summer of 2006.

My Advice for Teens Going on Cruises.
I have now been onboard Carnival since early summer, and as a teen director I have had plenty of opportunities to see how much fun the teens have on different cruises. Each cruise is different, and it all has to do with how involved each of you get with me and the teen program.

The best piece of advice I can give you is to check out the ship programs specifically for your age group. Give it a chance and you'll wind up meeting people your age and doing things that you probably enjoy. Many teens get scared away at the concept of teen activities because they think the teen programs are like the ones for younger kids. They aren't, especially on Carnival and other mainstream ships. Club O2 is a distinctly different program with its own agendae and meeting areas.

Some teens do not like the idea of a structured program; that's cool too, you don't have to come to all of the events. But, to be perfectly honest, I've have seen it first-hand! The larger the group of teens that gets together the more fun everybody has in the end.

Remember, I'm still a teen also, and I can tell if I am on the right track if I am having fun myself. If not, I try to shift activities. My biggest problem is when the group is shy or hesitant to say anything, because then I don't know what they want to do. So all I can tell you is this - "speak up!" Please let us know if what we are doing is fun for you, and if it isn't then tell us that, too.

That's right. The bottom line is to get involved with the activities for your age group. If you think you are too cool for us then you might find yourself spending a lot of time alone. Wouldn't you rather meet new people? Of course you would. So, I'm not saying ditch your parents and meet them only at dinner, but do go to the teen disco at night, and try to network with as many of us as you can.

Here is another tip; Remember you are on vacation. Feel free to do something crazy! Throw on a bathrobe and come to the deck party, be the first to dance at the teen disco, or even go up to someone you have never met and introduce yourself and ask them where they are from. All teens are eager to meet other teens -- it's just that not everyone is as outgoing as the person next to them.

Almost all teen programs on ships are the same - the first events we hold for you are the icebreaking activities to help you get acquainted with each other. Get involved early, and if you can be a little outgoing at first, when everyone else is apprehensive, then you are going to look like the most together person there.

More About my Job With Carnival
So what's the best part of my job? Traveling on a beautiful cruise ship to different ports, doing a job I love and getting paid for it! There is so much more to working on a cruise ship then what you see as a guest. The crew has as much fun as you do, so I personally have twice as much fun because I get to party with you and have a blast, and then later I get to party with my crew member friends.

The people you work and live with become a close-knit family. When someone leaves the ship by "signing off" it's like seeing a family member leave. Some negatives about ship work are the same as land-based jobs. But I can wake up in a different port each morning and wonder what the day will bring. While most other people my age may find themselves working in a grocery store or at the mall, I am getting paid to have fun and explore the Caribbean. I can't wait to sign back on with Carnival for another contract and continue living the "dream job" any teen would lovee.

And good luck to the new teen host - maybe it will be you!

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