Travel A performer on the world's largest cruise ship reveals how she got the gig, and what working at sea is really like
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- Ariana Mazzagatti is a performer aboard Royal Caribbean's , as well as the aqua captain, meaning she's in charge of a team of water-based entertainers.
- "It's as difficult to get into a ship show as it is to get into a or a West End or a Cirque du Soleil show," Mazzagatti told Insider.
- Mazzagatti admits the job is often exhausting, but that she loves it: She's celebrating five years of working for soon.
- As a cast member, she enjoys perks like eating in the ship's restaurants, hitting the pools, checking out other shows, and exploring the ports.
Ariana Mazzagatti, who goes by the nickname Mazz, is an entertainer aboard the, the Symphony of the Seas. She's the main aerialist for the water show "HiRO," as well as the aqua captain, meaning that she is in charge of scheduling, and keeping everyone on her team "safe and happy while on contract."
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She's celebrating five years working for Royal Caribbean in February, and has no plans to change careers anytime soon.
"I love every part of it," she told Insider in an interview. "I will do this until my body physically cannot move."Mazzagatti is one of the few from the US
"I'm from Las Vegas, Nevada. I'm American. It's a little bit rare on cruise ships to be American because we have a lot more job opportunities," she told Insider, adding that despite thehaving about 65 different nationalities represented by crew, most are from the Philippines, India, and Indonesia, as well as coastal European countries like Croatia and Montenegro.
"You make such good friends, but you never know if you'll see them again," she added, saying that working with such a diverse group of people really opened her eyes, and made her more "inviting and accepting."
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Mazzagatti is a former competitive dancer and gymnast, but even this background didn't give her as much of an edge as you'd think
"We have world championship divers who have won titles, there's synchronized swimmers who have performed for national teams, we have dancers that have been in movies, we have ice skaters who have been Olympians before. So it's very top, top, top of the line athletes and performers," she said of the entertainers who are cast in the cruise's shows.
"It's as difficult to get into a ship show as it is to get into a Broadway or a West End or a Cirque du Soleil show," she said.
Thousands of people try out for the shows every year and Royal Caribbean only hires around 4% of them, according to a Royal Caribbean representative.
To get the gig, Mazzagatti had to audition in a big group - which got smaller and smaller as people were weeded out - performing various choreographies in unison.
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As an aerialist, however, her audition also included an aerial portion, which involved a difficult workout at the gym to prove her strength. "They need people who already have it," she said. "They can't wait for someone to build that strength to be able to do what we're doing. And even me, coming from a gymnastics background, it was very difficult. I was very sore the next day."
She made it, though, and was told that she had won a contract at the end of the auditions, along with six or seven others.
While rehearsals depend on the show, the show's length, and the number of people involved, Mazzagatti said they can last anywhere from four to 10 weeks. Once onboard, however, the cast no longer really rehearses. "Because we're doing over 200 shows in a contract, we don't do a whole lot of rehearsing. It's very muscle memory," she said, acknowledging the difficulties presented by the ship's rocking, and occasional bad weather.
However, Mazzagatti added that there's a huge emphasis on making sure that cast members go to the gym, and work muscles and skills that they don't usually use in a show to stay strong across the board. She even takes dance classes with the theater cast in order to switch up her exercises. It's "so that we're not doing the same movement over and over and over again," she said. "It keeps us fit and excited."
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Mazzagatti and her team of aqua performers do around nine shows a week, often two an evening, which she says can be very demanding, physically.As a cast member, versus a crew member, Mazzagatti has a few perks that she does not take for granted
"For the casts, it's a little bit different. We have one or two days off a week sometimes depending on the itinerary, depending on the ship, depending on timing and season. So we have it very good onboard compared to the very, very, very hardworking individuals of the rest of the crew. They don't get a single day off for their contracts," she said.
She adds that as a cast member she can also eat in the restaurants, hit the pools, check out the other shows, and usually has the time to get off at ports, take tours, and explore. As aqua captain she also has her own cabin, a rare bonus as most other performers and crew members have to share rooms.Her job isn't limited to performing
Everyone on her team is certified by the Professional Association of Diving Instructors, and gets CPR training. Some even do firefighting training.
"We're in charge of making sure that every single person on board is safe," Mazzagatti said. "We have so many more duties than just coming out and performing." For example, she also leads parades for kids, leads tours of the ship, and has a fair amount of paperwork as aqua captain.
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Time off is spent eating, sleeping, and exercising
During her time off, Mazzagatti will go to the gym, eat, and nap, before warming up for shows, making sure everything needed for the show is safe and in working order, and doing her own makeup before performing for hundreds of people - the theater she performs in can seat 800.
At home she says she mostly sleeps and plays with her cat, though she also does a fair bit of traveling, often visiting the many people she's befriended on board that live all over the world.
Contracts can last anywhere from five to 11 months, and don't allow for any trips home unless in the case of an emergency. Mazzagatti says that the length of her break between contracts depends on the contract she chooses, and can thus be anywhere from just a week to a couple of months long.
"Every day is an absolute adventure. Whether that be a difficult adventure, and you're tired. We work a lot," she said, adding: "On the flip side of that, for the casts, we are paid to dance, or sing, or dive, or ice skate, or stick fight, or synchronized swim, and we are paid to travel at the same time. And that's the best part about it."
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