A decade ago Dustin Kerr ‘11 had never seen a cruise ship — now he travels the world on cruise ships and has visited all seven continents and 108 different countries. Kerr said he wasn’t looking for or expecting an opportunity to be a resident guest entertainer and vocalist on cruise ships. “This job basically fell in my lap,” Kerr said.
After Kerr graduated from Hastings College with a bachelor of music degree in classical voice and performance, he went to the New York Film Academy for a one year intensive program studying musical theater. He landed a job in the city as an executive assistant for a theater producer, but he kept auditioning and looking for performance jobs. Luckily enough, Kerr was searching audition websites and found the position that would help his life set sail.
“The guy I was working for was really open because he knew I was a performer,” Kerr said. “So if he didn’t need me and I wanted to go somewhere, he just wanted to know and would try to work around my schedule.”
Kerr’s audition went well and he was called back twice. At the end of the audition process, he was offered a job with the Belinda King Creative Productions company in England. They work with cruise lines to put singers and dancers on board. Years later, Kerr has worked with multiple cruise lines and seen more of the world then he ever imagined he would.
To get ready for a tour on a cruise ship, five to six weeks of rehearsals are held in England so everyone can learn their preset shows. “We do seven preset shows and then dance parties that we can pretty much do an unlimited number of,” Kerr explained.
After rehearsals, Kerr and other members of the group fly to the boarding location — and could be on board anywhere from five to eight months at a time.
Kerr explains that being on a cruise ship for such a long time can be hard, but being able to compartmentalize is key.
“You work, live and play in the exact same space. So you have to know when you’re in the crew area and can relax and when you’re in the guest area and have to get back to work,” Kerr said.
Being on a cruise ship for so long also means that there are unique hardships that Kerr and the entertainment crew have to deal with from connectivity issues to obtaining materials. Kerr is able to rely on the expertise of his crew to help solve these issues.
“I’m working with people who know what they’re doing,” Kerr said. “With the right mindset and the right people even when we don’t have what we need sometimes, we still figure it out.”
Kerr said that he felt prepared for his role because of his time at Hastings College, especially his training in classical music, which helps with choral arranging and frequently working out different voice parts.
Despite the hardships, Kerr said he loves being able to travel the world.
“The two most beautiful places I’ve ever been are a little island called Moorea that is just off the coast of Tahiti, and South Africa is a very close second,” Kerr said.
Without taking a chance on an audition that he wasn’t expecting, Kerr would have never been doing what he loves now.
“I feel really lucky to be doing something I love so much. Just because you’re somewhere at the moment, doesn’t mean that you can’t be on the other side of the world in a matter of days,” Kerr said.