Edmond Tomaselli always knew he wanted to work on a cruise ship. So when the opportunity presented itself in the form of a credit-based internship aboard the Norwegian Cruise Line’s Pride of America ship in Hawaii last fall, the SJC Long Island student jumped at it.
“When I found out I got accepted, I was stoked,” Tomaselli, a hospitality and tourism management major, said. “It was the start of my dream career.”
And when the successful internship turned into a job offer, Tomaselli couldn’t say no. He decided to switch his spring 2020 semester courses to online classes, so he could continue working toward his dream of becoming a cruise director.
“I was so excited to learn that St. Joseph’s would make it possible for me to follow my dream and still go to school by taking online classes,” the 20-year-old said.
Working Toward His Dream
Tomaselli realized it was his dream to become a cruise director in 2009 when he was aboard the Disney Wonder Cruise.
“I saw the joy that cruise directors get from making the guests happy,” the Holbrook resident said. “And they live in a resort, so how can you complain?”
Tomaselli was inspired by Clayton Lynsey, the former cruise director for Disney Cruise Line and current opening cruise director for Virgin Voyages aboard the Scarlet Lady. But he was also inspired by Walt Disney himself.
“He has shown me that it’s fun to do the impossible, and that if you can dream it, you can do it,” Tomaselli said.
His responsibilities on the Pride of America last spring included everything from safety and crowd management to taking, editing and selling photos.
“What happens daily is always changing,” said Tomaselli, who worked 70-80 hours a week with no days off. “Life on a ship is much different than land, but it is definitely a fun change of pace.”
An Unexpected Change of Plans
Like all other cruise lines in the United States, the Norwegian Cruise Line shut down in mid March due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, Tomaselli found himself on a cruise ship with no guests.
“I thought I was living in a dream,” he said. “I love cruising, and to have a nearly empty cruise ship to enjoy was amazing but at the same time eerily quiet. During the beginning of the shutdown, they even ran stage shows and events for just the crew to enjoy!”
But things took a difficult turn when one of the crew tested positive for COVID-19. The employee caught the virus during shore leave in Honolulu.
“We went into quarantine out on the water about a week and a half after the conclusion of our last sailing,” Tomaselli said. “Getting upgraded to a guest room was great, but all events and activities were canceled. You start to go crazy after a bit because there was not much to do.”
There were between 30 and 50 employees who tested positive, all of whom were separated to the top-most decks and received medical attention.
“Every sailor was tested for COVID-19, and if you did not have it after quarantining, you had an opportunity to disembark,” said Tomaselli, who was fortunate enough to not test positive. “I purchased the next flight out of Honolulu to the mainland, and after a stop in Salt lake City, I made it home to JFK (Airport) the next day around 5:30 pm. I opted to self-quarantine in a local hotel to be safe, but then after the two more weeks of isolation, I was happy to be with my family just in time for Easter!”
As of right now, Tomaselli is eagerly waiting next spring, when he plans to take online courses again and continue working on the cruise ship.