Earlier in the week, I dropped a note with the guest services desk as I wanted to interview Carnival cruise director Butch Begovich. Due to his busy schedule, he left a message yesterday. Unfortunately, technology did not allow me to get the message until this morning. I dropped by guest services and had him called. He was in a meeting, but we arranged to meet during the Fun Farewell party at 5pm.
You can read a bit of his personal history on John Heald’s blog, but I wanted to get into a little of the business side of his job and a little behind the scenes. We talked about the changing cruiser since he began. I joked a little about someone who has been using a green laser pointer during the shows. He said one of the biggest changes is right now during the heart of hurricane season. It used to be that only the wheelchair and walker crowd was sailing this “low season” time of year, but now families are cruising. There are around 460 kids on this sailing. It is still less than the peak of the summer. I did not get an exact number sailing on this ship, but I had heard it was less than the ship’s absolute capacity.
We talked about the number of cruisers who are choosing a flexible dining time versus a set dining time. He said on Carnival Dream, the maximum number is 25% of those on board. There are rumors of allowing more after drydock. I asked Butch if he ever gets information for his announcements and says to himself, ‘Are you kidding me?’ He responded, ‘All the time!’ For instance this week, he had to mention information about a special diamond trunk show. The information was going to add another 10 minutes to his 45 minute presentation about the ports of call and excursions. He was able to cut down what he needed to convey and not add too much time to his presentation. I can understand this as there are several different departments that are vying for his attention, and they ALL want time or a mention of something.
We talked about the biggest fights onboard, and Butch said on Carnival Dream it seems to be over saving seats. One week, a couple of men nearly came to blows as the husband had gone to the bathroom and another man came and sat in an empty seat. This happened during the middle of a production show! He agreed with something another cruise director told me. Sometimes there are people who come on board and nothing is going to please them. For instance, the occupants in a couple of cabins had to move due to a burst pipe. In the middle of all this, one person was at guest services wanting compensation because they felt slighted because someone maybe on the entertainment staff had looked at them wrong on the Lido. I mentioned something I had read that only 1% of cruisers each week are like this. Butch mentioned that he and the staff and the crew sometimes have to remind themselves of the 99% who are cruising to have a good time. Those 1% of cruisers can take such an emotional toll on everyone though.
I asked Butch to take me behind the scenes of itinerary changes in the heart of hurricane season. He mentioned the cruise right before this one. It was scheduled to be an eastern Caribbean cruise. At 8pm on day 7, they found out they would be doing a western Caribbean cruise due to hurricane Maria. His assistant cruise director, Amy had to work out the new schedule for everyone, new Fun times had to be ordered, and within an hour everything had to be approved to go to the print shop. This included a letter to the incoming guests. It was at this point that Butch dropped in a mention that he really feels for the one person working as the print shop technician.
It turned out there was a series of emails that ended up getting blocked during turnaround day. One person on the pier got information on their smart phone that Maria was not going to be a threat so everything that had been done had to be undone, and the plan was put back in place for an Eastern Caribbean cruise! Butch mentioned that they have a back-up plan in place for everything due to weather, itinerary changes, fly-on entertainers who miss their flights.
Finally, I asked Butch if he wished he had less administrative duty and he said ‘Absolutely!’ He constantly says that the public only sees about 10% of what a cruise director does. There is a desire on the shoreside management to have the cruise director be more visible to the public, but I am of the opinion they want to have another meeting about it…a meeting that will take up more behind the scenes time of the cruise director. I think this situation is not just confined to cruise directors on Carnival. I was lucky to get some time with Butch, and I am happy he took the time to meet with me. Butch mentioned that during all of his free time, he is studying for his masters. I wasn’t able to find out what he is studying as he was off to the next event!
I should mention that Amy, Butch’s assistant cruise director, read a letter from my daughter this morning during the “Morning Show”. As a prize for this, she was sent the coveted Carnival ship on a stick as well as a photo of Butch and Amy seen in the photo above! I will have some thoughts on this cruise after we return. Thank you for cruising along with my daughter and me! If you don’t catch Butch on Carnival Dream, he will be moving next year to Carnival Magic as it sails out of Galveston, TX.
Chuck and Laura Flagg are fee-based travel consultants.
We own The Flagg Agency in Canton, and our number is 770-355- 9569
We are fee-based travel consultants. We help people make better travel decisions
so they may find an experience that matches both their wants AND their needs.