Allure of the Seas is the most enormous cruise ship plying the waves. It’s nearly four-football-fields long, has 15 decks, 25 restaurants, an 25-metre-long zipline and carries about 8,000 people, 6,400 of which are guests.
Cruise director Allan Brooks is in charge of keeping those guests amused. “The first thing people think of with cruise directors is Loveboat and Julie McCoy. Things have definitely changed since then – it’s kind of more like Julie on steroids,” he says.
Brooks works with 225 performers to make sure cruise guests are kept busy. The Quebec native has been with Royal Caribbean for 12 years, even though at first he thought he’d only stay for six months. Brooks quickly realized, however, that his comedy background (and hockey skills) would make him a perfect fit as a leader of high jinks on the high seas.
What’s the most romantic gesture you’ve seen on your ship?
We have a vaudeville comedy show where we pick someone from the audience at random. One time we worked it out with a guest so he’d be picked so he could propose to his girlfriend. The ring was preplanted on me and the proposal took place during the skit.
How many of the guests do you meet each day?
On smaller ships, you can actually stop in your busy day and shake the hands of upwards of 200 people. But on this class of ship, meeting them one-on-one is tougher. I might meet around 100 people during my day while I’m in transit. We also use television on the ship as a way to meet more people and get my personality out there. I host a morning show everyday that runs in our guests’ staterooms.
What’s the weirdest question you’ve been asked on your morning show?
I wear a robe for the show. It’s a pink and white striped Victoria’s Secret robe. So a lot of people start to ask if I’m wearing pants and then it gets very bizarre after that.
What’s your favourite activity to lead?
We have an adult scavenger hunt on our hockey rink, which we cover with a basketball floor. We get 10 teams of 100. The first time I ever hosted it, it was like coming into a Roman arena. It’s controlled chaos. One of the items I ask for is the wackiest human trick. Believe me, every week is different for that item. I once had a gentleman take his glass eye out. … Nudity is not uncommon during that part of the game.
What else do you use the ice rink for?
Well, actually, two years ago I was on the Explorer of the Seas [Allure of the Seas’ sister ship] out in New York. We had a lot of Canadians … boarding there.
The first day of the cruise we have a parade that I host. During it, I spotted a gentleman with a really big mustache and flamboyant hair. He looked so familiar. I had my production manager, who is in charge of the ice rink, take a look at the man and he said ‘I think that’s [former Maple Leaf and Calgary Flames player] Lanny McDonald.’
He was on board with 150 Canadians as part of a NHL Legends cruise. Lanny and three other retired players were on board and we razzed them enough to get a shinny hockey game going on our rink. We called it Hockey Night in the Caribbean. It was a mini taste of Canada.
This interview has been edited and condensed.