Instructing Zumba on a Cruise Ship

By: Shannon Shull

When one of my fellow Zumba instructors told me that Celebrity Cruise Lines was working with Zumba Fitness to book instructors for their cruises, I jumped at the opportunity. After a  strenuous audition process, I was thrilled to be offered a gig on the Celebrity Summit! They first offered me a position on a 2-week cruise but I had to turn them down. There was no way I could be away from my kids for that long. Fortunately, they offered me a week-long cruise that I was able to schedule. I have to admit, I was very nervous since I did not know what to expect. Every ship’s Cruise Director and Activities Manager do things a little differently, plus the number of classes you teach usually depends on the number of days the ship is at port and at sea. Needless to say, it was quite the adventure and I just had to be prepared to do my thing!

Ship Pool Deck

I am so glad that I took the plunge and accepted the job because it ended up being such an amazing experience. On my first night on the ship, I met with Manuel, the Activities Manager, who filled me in on the schedule and then interviewed me on-camera. The interview played on the main ship channel on all the TVs in each room and around the ship. All of my classes were on the main pool deck’s stage – the stage of the open sea! Some folks would show up in their work out clothes ready to Zumba and other folks would see all the fun we were having and join in from the pool, the bars and the dining areas. Each class was like performing a show! If people weren’t dancing, they were watching from the pool, the balconies, etc., and some were even taking pictures. Of course, it helps that everyone on a cruise ship is on vacation and, therefore, in party mode! The air was always electric with happiness and fun.


The one thing it took some getting used was the ship’s movement; when a ship is at sea, it moves and sways A LOT. Attempting to dance on a moving object took some getting used to. In some of my video footage from my classes, you can see the water in the pool dramatically sloshing back and forth. Dancing on a rockin’ ship certainly presents a challenge for the muscles and your equilibrium. Such a weird feeling! It took me days after returning home to get over the occasional sensation of being on a moving object.

Rockin Out to Air Guitar

The funny thing is that before I taught my first class, the crew kept warning me about the Caribbean heat. Shoot! That Caribbean heat was nothing compared to the heat of the indoor pools where I teach Aqua Zumba back home! Yes, the sun on the ship was hot, but the wind of the sea was glorious! I discovered very quickly that I had to wear a hat when I taught to keep my hair from whipping around like crazy, but it felt great and kept me cool enough that I didn’t walk away dripping sweat after each class. When I teach Aqua Zumba, I don’t get the privilege of getting in the water; I have to teach from the side of the pool and those indoor pool rooms are like steam bath saunas! Once I start dancing, I’m usually literally dripping sweat by the 2nd or 3rd song, and I’m not even a big sweater! When I walk away from teaching an Aqua Zumba class, my clothes are wet with sweat and I look like a red-faced, stinky mess. When I first started teaching Aqua Zumba it took me months to condition my body to teaching in that environment. But goodness do I love it – regardless of the heat, I have so much fun teaching it that I get over the sweaty part. So my point here – teaching Zumba on the deck of a ship was the ultimate experience. I could handle those conditions any day.

It would be such a privilege to serve as a Zumba instructor on another cruise! I really hope I get the opportunity to do something like this again. It was such a blessing to meet and dance with so many fabulous people from across the world. And it definitely was an honor to represent Zumba and to work with the incredible Celebrity crew. What an awesome cruise line. They definitely made me feel like a celebrity!

13 thoughts on “Instructing Zumba on a Cruise Ship

  1. Shannon this is proof that you can master anything that you set your mind to. I must say girl that you did a courageous thing teaching in a new environment like aboard ship. Craziness I’m sure ensued 🙂
    Hope you get many more bookings and are able to rock the Zumba bodies like only you can do!!

      • Concerning instructing Zumba on a cruise ship, they changed some things quite a bit after I did my cruise. I originally found out about the Celebrity Cruise ship gig from a fellow instructor in my area and immediately applied. At the time they were hiring instructors for one cruise at a time. Shortly after my cruise gig, they changed the contracts, hiring instructors for 3 to 6 months at a time. I couldnt be away from my family for that long! The 7 to 14 day cruise gigs were perfect for so many of us, but unfortunately they changed the system. Needless to say, after that, I wasnt able to find another cruise line that hired for one cruise at a time. Most unfortunately! That was well over 3 years ago now, so my advice would be to just research all the cruise lines and see how they do their hiring process for fitness instructors. 😉 Good Luck!

  2. I know that the people on the ship experienced a real treat with Shannon leading this class – she is an amazing dancer and has such a powerful ability to draw people into her fun “world” that we all end up feeling like we’re the best back-up dancers ever, and forget about the incredible workout we’re getting !! Gold’s Gym is lucky to have her teaching there!

  3. Love it!! I know those “cruisers” absolutely loved you and your fun spirit!! I can feel your energy off the pictures alone!

  4. Pingback: How to Stay in Shape on a Ship | Shifting Is Easy - move yourself, one way or another

  5. Thank you so much for blogging about this! My dream would be teach Zumba on a cruise! Can you tell me how I could go about applying?

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