Cruise Director Jorge Solano
talks about entertainment on
by Richard H. Wagner
For cruise director Jorge Solano, Carnival Glory presents an exciting
opportunity to create entertainment experiences. A professional comedian as
well as a cruise director, Solano has served on Carnival's Holiday, Fantasy and
Destiny class ships. (Read a profile of Mr. Solano). Well-received on those
ships, he now brings his characteristic enthusiasm to managing the entertainment
on a Conquest-class ship - - the 110,000 gross ton mega-cruise ships that are the
front line of the Carnival fleet.
While Solano remains very positive about the cruise experience on Carnival's
smaller classes of ships, the additional space on the Conquest classes ships
allows ships like the Glory to have features not found on the other ships. "Our
guests get to see the whole product on this type of ship."
As the cruise director, Solano's primary area of responsibility is the
entertainment and Solano is pleased with the facilities that Glory has for
entertainment. "We have the Seaside Theater, which I like very much. I find it
more spacious along the Promenade. Things are in the right place so people are
able to move about a little more Also, we have a dedicated comedy club. It is
something that being a comedian I truly enjoy. The guests really enjoy having a
lounge dedicated to comedy. The Amber Palace, I love."
While impressed by Glory's facilities, Solano is nonetheless driven to find ways
to maximize their entertainment potential. "Every time I go to a ship, I want to
fine tune and put a little bit of my craziness in there. I think about the product and
I always want to improve it."
"I want to make sure that we hit every demographic. I think that has been our
vision for the entire company. Whether you are one year old or 99 years old,
there is something for you to do. There is going to be Barney music for the kids
but there is going to be the yesteryear music for grandma. That is the way we
have been heading throughout the years. So when I get to a ship, the first thing
that I look at is are we hitting every demographic? If we are not, then I'll say this
is what we need to do - - add 50s and 60s music on this night, add 70s music on
Carnival's headquarters office "always sends us a profile mix. I take a look at
that and see what demographics we [will have on a cruise]. That is a very useful
tool for me. I can fine tune the entertainment depending upon when are we going
to have more kids, when we are going to have more grandparents. That is what
we like to do."
Enhancing the entertainment experience also means personal participation in the
spotlight. A professional comedian who has toured and played on stages across
the country, Solano embellishes the shows with his own stand-up routines. Not
only are these well-received by the guests at the time but they build up over the
course of a cruise so that the guests are look forward to the cruise director's next
"My first ten years with Carnival was as a fly-in entertainer. Even though I have
been a cruise director for 10 years, I have never given up being a comedian. I am
always going to be a comedian. That is my spin. That is what I bring to the table -
- the fact that I can improvise a show. And the fact that I get to do time in the
main lounge, time in the comedy club, wherever I go, it makes my day. The day
that I cannot do that anymore, I will need to move on because I need to make
people laugh. "
He hosts the Welcome Aboard show, the productions shows, the Carnival
Legends show, which features the top guests in the ship's karaoke contests, as
well as the passenger talent show. "What I like about doing the Showcase of
Stars is that you never know what kind of talent you have onboard. Sometimes
they are wonderful and sometimes . . . you know," he laughs with a twinkle in his
eye. "I enjoy it. If you asked me what my favorite thing to do is, it is when I can
showcase a little bit of my stand up. So I can put bits in between the acts and the
interviews with [the performers] are fun."
Solano also uses his comedic skills to enliven what are often dry but necessary
cruise ship presentations such as the disembarkation talk at the end of the
voyage. "It is so satisfying to give out information and make people laugh. Most
people grasp a little more when you put a little spin of comedy in there."
Of course, no one person could develop all the ideas or provide all of the
entertainment that is offered on Carnival Glory over the course of a cruise. "It is
all teamwork. That is how this company has been built - - teamwork and making
sure that you put your shoulder in there. Judging by the number of our return
guests, it seems like we must be doing something right because they keep coming
A key part of the team is Carnival's main office back on shore. "I have great
friends who work shoreside and a lot of their ideas are the ones that get filtered
to the ship. The office also gives us the tools. They search very hard for the
Onboard, "it also takes a great team - - a great entertainment team," he says
proudly of the entertainers and activities personnel who report to him.
When people think of cruise ship entertainment, the first thing that often comes to
mind is the production shows in the main theater. On Glory's four and five-night
cruises, the production cast puts on two musical revues featuring the ship's
singers and dancers.
"Living in America' is all about living in this great country of ours. It represents
every state. They sing everything from 'Georgia on my Mind' to 'Rocky Top'. It
is just great. We are sailing from New York and what better way to close a show
than with 'New York, New York"
'"Just Rock', that is what it is all about - - music from the 80s, disco music.
Sometimes I get so into it, I get my John Travolta suit and dance.”
“The energy that this cast puts out is incredible. The more energy the cast puts
out, the more energy the guests feed back. One thing I find in New York is great
crowds. They know entertainment. They will come on and they know that what
they are getting is great value, great entertainment."
Another featured show in the ship's main theater, the Amber Palace, is Justin
Illusion. This is a magic show but it has nothing to do with rabbits coming out of
a top hat. Rather, it involves highly-charged music and dynamic lighting as well
as the ship's dancers supporting the illusionist and his assistant. "The Justin
Illusion show is an amazing show. It is energy all around. I can hear the people
gasping. After each illusion, everybody is trying to figure out how did he do
that? I have known Justin for 16 or 17 years and he is not only a great friend but
a terrific entertainer. The lines of people waiting to meet him after the shows are
Not all the entertainment happens in the main theater. There are movies on the
giant outdoor LED screen, trivia contests and other activities throughout the
public areas, as well as shows in the aforementioned comedy club. Solano is
particularly proud of the musicians who appear in the bars and other venues.
"Our musicians around the ship are just incredible. We have one of the best duos
- - they are called 'Play That.' We have also our show band, which plays
everywhere. They sound great. No mater where you go, if you are at the Casino
Bar or you are in the Atrium or in one of the lounges, it is a great atmosphere,
there is a great party atmosphere."
Speaking of parties, on one night of the cruise, Solano and his team create a
massive party, which they call the "Mardi Gras." It all begins after a show as
the guests are exiting the theater into the lobby of the ship's atrium. The ship's
duo is playing. As previously announced in the ship's daily program, the cruise
staff starts tossing strings of beads from the balconies down to the hundreds of
people assembled in the lobby. "The minute we start throwing the beads it
becomes like a Mardi Gras atmosphere. They follow the drummer up to the
Promenade and we stop by the Casino Bar. Everyone is in a frenzy. We continue
"We form a conga line. We always try to break the record and last night's count
was 372. Then, we do the limbo contest and then we finish in the disco. If we
were in the Caribbean [where the weather is warmer], we would have taken the
party all the way up to Lido Deck and we would have had this huge deck party.
But we basically had a huge deck party on the Promenade."
"Everybody who goes by is dancing. They can't help it. That is what I like - - it
creates this atmosphere. This is what you are here for. Every single person,
whether they were a toddler or all the way to the grandmas and granddads, had a
smile on their face. That is what makes me so happy - - to just see everyone
walking around with a smile, saying: 'Wow this is a great atmosphere; this is a
Cruise ship interview - - Cruise Director Jorge Solano - - Carnival Glory
Solano on stage in the Amber Palace.
Solano interviewing the employee
of the month as Funship Freddie