In these days of family-oriented mega-ships with more adventurous on-board activities than you can shake a rolled-up cruise brochure at, it’s no surprise that the more sedate nature of a Six Star voyage has become especially appealing to some of us. As well as a more relaxed ambience and culturally focuses activities, there’s an effort to recreate or at least, hark back to the glory days of cruising, where fine cruising and fine wine were followed by an evening in the ballroom, where guests would waltz and tango the night away.
If you like to cruise with your partner, chances are you have a favourite Six Star cruise line, or even a favourite ship on which you think the band always sounds just right and the atmosphere is perfect. But what if you’re a single lady cruise-goer who’d like nothing better than someone with whom to dance the night away?
Enter the gentleman host. These carefully selected gents are a welcome fixture on cruises operated by lines such as Crystal Cruises, Silversea and Regent Seven Seas Cruises and their job is to quickstep through the night with any single ladies in need of a dance partner. At least, it’s a part of their job. As well as boasting a competent repertoire of ballroom dances, gentlemen hosts have to be socially adaptable, excellent conversationalists and be on hand to help host cocktail evenings and sometimes accompany guests on shore excursions.
Usually between the ages of 45 and 70, they must be unmarried or widowed, and they are only permitted to dance with single older women on-board, unless they have the express permission of the women’s husband or male companion. Romance is completely out of the question too and any amorous advances by a host would result in him losing his job. Similarly, if a host finds himself the subject of romantic interest, it is part of his responsibility to sensitively turn down any such approaches.
You may be wondering what a job like this pays. Well, you may be surprised to learn that the gentlemen hosts actually pay a fee to the cruise line for the duration of the cruise they are working on, in effect, receiving a discounted ‘working holiday’. For these semi-retired and often retired men, this works out just fine, and is a great way to spend some of their time, visiting different countries and meet new people.
Sadly, as many cruise lines strive to appeal to younger cruisers through all manner of giant screen cinemas, waterslides, climbing walls and fashionable on-board events, we’ve seen the cancellation of gentleman host programmes, leading many to speculate on the future of this charming tradition. However, with the likes of Cunard, Silversea and Crystal Cruises still flying the host flag, there’s certainly life in those dancing legs yet.
By Simon Brotherton