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Carnival Cruise Line: What’s on the Horizon for choreographer Paul Roberts?

With a new addition to its fleet of cruise ships and new studios in Florida, Carnival is expanding its high-quality entertainment offering – which means huge opportunities

At the age of 18, Paul Roberts found his dance career taking an unexpected direction. Newly graduated and keen to begin his professional life, he auditioned for Carnival Cruise Line and soon found himself performing to holidaymakers on its popular ‘fun ships’. It proved to be a formative experience.

Paul Roberts

Today, Roberts is one of the world’s most in-demand choreographers and directors. He has worked with stadium-filling pop stars such as One Direction, Paul McCartney, Prince and Robbie Williams, produced memorable videos for global brands like British Airways, Samsung and L’Oreal, and created an acclaimed version of Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring with the iconoclastic BalletBoyz for BBC Television.

He’s come a long way since his studies with London’s Urdang Academy – one of the UK’s leading dance and musical theatre educators – and from his first, grateful encounter with Carnival.

“I had a wonderful time and learned a huge amount that allowed me to grow as a performer and a person. There’s a family feel to how Carnival operates; they want their performers to do well, and there’s always someone to guide and support when it’s needed.”

Seven years ago, Roberts returned to the company as a director and choreographer, charged with creating Carnival’s signature hi-tech, hi-glamour, hi-entertainment value shows, and is currently in development with his fifth production. The decision to go back to sea, he says, was an easy one.

“Carnival offers an amazingly creative and supportive environment to develop your existing skills and learn new ones. You work with exciting talent and a brilliant technical team that finds ingenious ways of making wonderful entertainment”.

A pioneer of on-board entertainment, Carnival’s second-to-none reputation owes much to the quality and vibrancy of its creative team, says creative development director Kerry Stables.

“Having strong creative directors on our team to develop our shows is paramount to the success of the final product. Paul Roberts is one of the best and has created four amazing shows for us and is currently working on a fifth that will debut on our newest ship to join the fleet in 2018, the Carnival Horizon”.

For Roberts, evidence of Carnival’s commitment to making “wow factor” entertainment is nowhere more vividly expressed than in its recently opened 44,500 sq ft Carnival Studios complex in Florida. This year, more than 1,100 production team members will rehearse bespoke shows before embarking, quite literally, on the experience of a lifetime.

“There’s everything we need there – every venue of every ship is replicated – to ensure we make the best shows possible and give performers what they need to realise their best”.

Opportunities for advancement for performers within Carnival is considerable, Roberts adds. “You begin as a company performer, but with talent and dedication you can become a dance captain, then a dance supervisor and from there move on land to a role in creative management”.

In return, Carnival is looking for “21st-century performers; triple-threat artists who can sing and dance in a variety of styles and are able to hold their own on stage.”

Casts of between eight and 12 performers appear in a variety of shows on each of Carnival’s 25 ships.

“In any given week, you might be doing Amor Cubano – an intense Latin show sung in Spanish; Divas – a celebration of ‘one-name’ female pop icons; the high-energy America Rocks or a Broadway- or movies-themed show. It’s demanding but immensely rewarding”.

For the hugely experienced Roberts, “Carnival is the best of the best, offering a brilliant experience for performers who can adapt to the demands made of them. In return, you’ll get to work with some of the most creative people in the industry – on land or at sea. And you’ll have the experience of a lifetime learning and developing skills that will serve you well wherever you go on to work”.

Auditions are held around the world and twice-yearly in London and New York. You can also apply directly via the Carnival Entertainment website

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