Living and working on the water
movies and gave stage performances in various theaters, such as the Trojan House in Beijing during the next four years.
“I wanted to experience theater and learn more about Chinese language and culture,” he says.
However, the acting jobs were sporadic and soon he yearned for more steady work. Then, an opportunity appeared. He got in touch with Princess Cruises through his sister’s theater company, which was brought in to do some preparatory work and present programs such as talk shows for Chinese guests.
At first, he was codirecting. Then, an opening came up as one of the game show hosts quit.
“I had to do one of the game shows,” he says.
His use of Mandarin impressed the Princess Cruises officials and they offered him a regular job.
He has now been with Princess Cruises for the past three and a half years, and is in charge of all the entertainment arrangements aboard and training his team.
In his career at sea, Robbins has mainly dealt with Chinese audien- ces, who, he says, are a lot of fun.
“They are very open to relaxing. Sometimes, it means only eating.”
Some of them love watching acrobatics and dancing, he says.
“They (the Chinese) usually come with family or friends and they love doing things together, such as all the trivia and game shows”.
But working on a ship is hard work.
The work hours are typically long and dealing with people can sometimes be tricky.
“People from different cultures respond differently,” he says.
In addition, when he goes back to his room he does feel lonely. But, being with the right passengers can make things better. And he enjoys making people laugh.
“The other pluses are that you get to travel for free, and you don’t have to worry about rent, food and laundry,” he says.
As he prepares to take a break and fly home to see his four-month son, Ribbons says will probably continue to sail for one or two more years.
But one thing is for sure. He wants to focus on China and continue to learn more about the country.