sue denning - celebrity eclipse

To board a cruise ship and be informed that Sue Denning will be your Cruise Director is almost like being handed a written guarantee that you are in for a treat.

Now in her sixth year with Celebrity Cruises and currently handling the CD duties on Celebrity Eclipse, Sue is following a dream that began in 2004 when she made some major changes in her life. Following the death of her parents and having both her son and daughter leave home to pursue their own careers in the entertainment business, Sue and hubby, famed musician, singer and comedian Jimmy Nairn, took a year and cruised the world and planned their futures. Jimmy had already performed on cruise ships and Sue quickly took a liking to the life on water.

"I've still got a lot of energy and a lot of life to live and I like doing what I do. I like to perform but I also like to organize.", she told me on a recent transatlantic crossing on Celebrity Eclipse. "I had a friend who put me in touch with Thomsons (cruise line) in England and I worked for them for quite a while and then I came across to Celebrity and have been with them for more than five years now."
sue denning celebrity cruises
Sue hosting an event in the Grand Foyer

Sue has been a Cruise Director during that time on Celebrity Century, Celebrity Summit, Celebrity Constellation (where we first crossed paths in 2012) and her current posting on Celebrity Eclipse. She is highly visible in her role, not only hosting the shows, games and other events, but also during her strolls around the ship several times a day when she stops and chats with any and all who say hello.

Did I mention that Sue Denning has talent? A former recording artist in the UK, Sue went on to doing shows in various venues throughout the British Isles and eventually met and married Jimmy. Both continued their careers while bringing up their family and, in 2013, are celebrating a collective 100 years in show business.

sue denning
Sue performing
Sue mentions organization as being the key to making a success of being a CD. Answering to the ship's Hotel Director, Sue has seven managers and a crew of 75. There is an Activity Manager (Sue's right hand man), ITV manager dealing with the shipboard television programming, an Audio-Visual Manager, Broadcast Manager for communications, etc., the Youth Manager handles the children's programmes, the Production Manager is responsible of all things relating to the onboard theatre, and the Bandmaster who looks after all of the musicians.

Today's cruise ships are offering their guests bigger shows and productions than ever before. No longer are passengers willing to put up with mediocre talent and chintzy shows. The cruise lines have heard and are answering the call. Celebrity is no different. Sue and her staff are constantly improving the product and shuffling the schedule to meet the passengers' demands. If a solo artist isn't right for one venue, the act is moved to a better, more appropriate spot. The big theatre productions, however, are more than just a local concept.

The shows are devised and put together by the entertainment team in Miami (headquarters) who then tell the contracted production company what they would like the end product to be. The show is then refined and rehearsed on land before being sent to the ship.

The theatre onboard Celebrity Eclipse features the latest, state-of-the-art computerized equipment and would be the envy of many a land based playhouse. A typical musical production involves musicians, dancers, singers and aerialists floating high above the audience. Sue's production team is her pride and joy and performances, like the current 'Eclipse', show off all their talents.

Century Eclipse Theatre
So.. what is a 'typical' day in the life of Sue Denning like?

"This morning.. I checked my emails in my room about 7:00 o'clock, went down to my office, did some more work and then attended the daily Hotel Director's meeting where we catch up with all of the nine managers he has here on board. I then went to the bridge to do the 10:00 o'clock announcement with the Captain. Back in my office we sorted out the programmes for the following day to finalize everything and then more work to start planning the next cruise. Since we are now half way through this transatlantic cruise, I'm now thinking Norway (the next itinerary) and the Mediterranean (the following cruise)."

sue denning & bob rice
Sue talked with Bob from
"I skipped lunch, naughty girl, and, following more office work, I came out around 12:30ish and walked the ship and chatted with everybody. I introduced the 'Beyond The Podium' speaker then opened the concert in the theatre after which I went back to my office where we discussed tomorrows events then moved on to the next day's planning. Then, following my interview with you, I will take a short break after which I am due in the Elite Lounge to greet passengers, another meeting then I start the show at 7:00. We have the evening meeting with the HD to go over the rest of the night's events, off to greet more passengers at the Officers and Guests reception in the Sky Lounge, may grab a quick bite to eat, intro the 9:00 o'clock show, film for the shipboard television for tomorrow, an interactive theme party followed by a final walk around the ship and, if I'm lucky, a glass of wine before retiring for the night."

And what does Sue Denning do when she leaves the ship for her two month vacation? “Two months off with two fabulously talented kids and my husband. Two months of full on enjoyment. My daughter is coming on a cruise with my husband and I since he is working on it, then I will take my lovely girl to New York for her birthday then home!”

Bob Rice
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