HAWAII AT WORK
CINDY ELLEN RUSSELL / CRUSSELL@STARBULLETIN.COM
Kaman Oliveira is cruise director of the Ali'i Kai catamaran, which every day takes hundreds of passengers out to sea for sunset cruises. Above, Oliveira on Wednesday stood on the upper deck of the tourist vessel as it made its way toward Waikiki from Honolulu Harbor.
Cruisin’ with Kaman
A strong work ethic propelled Kaman Oliveira into a supervisory job with great sunset views
Title: Cruise director
Job: Supervises the staff aboard the Ali'i Kai sunset cruise catamaran
Kaman oliveira has a cruise job. Every work day she boards Roberts Hawaii's 800-passenger Ali'i Kai catamaran from Pier 5 in Honolulu Harbor and heads out to sea, where she gets to see glorious sunsets and maybe some whales during the two-hour sails. Of course, she also has to work, as supervisor of the two dozen or so staff who operate the vessel and cater to the passengers, most of whom are tourists. Oliveira, 32, is a graduate of Mililani High School. She has a 14-year-old son and two daughters, ages 10 and 8, and lives in Waipahu.
Question: How long have you been working on the Ali'i Kai?
Answer: About seven years now.
Q: What were you doing before that?
A: Actually, I was just staying home with my kids.
Q: What was your first job on the boat?
A: What I did was hostess.
Q: How long did you do that?
A: I did it for a little while, until I became a supervisor, after about a year. Maybe less.
Q: How come they picked you?
A: I show up to work every day.
Q: You have a good work ethic?
A: Yeah. I was taught by my dad that if you want to work, you have to show up there, and don't complain about what you gotta do.
I actually got started because I wanted extra money. It wasn't like I actually needed it.
Q: So that took some of the pressure off, huh?
Q: What are your job responsibilities now?
A: I start about 12 o'clock in the afternoon, and I usually do paperwork that needs to be done before the sail. Because I'm not only the cruise director. I take care of the whole host and hostess department, make sure the evaluations and other little things are taken care of. Schedules, you know.
Q: How many people are actually working on the vessel when it sets out to sea?
A: The host department has about 20, but they don't all work every day. They have about 20 on the schedule. Then the bar has about four, and the deck hand has about 10.
Q: Is there a captain?
A: Yeah, there's a captain and a first mate.
CINDY ELLEN RUSSELL / CRUSSELL@STARBULLETIN.COM
Entertaining Ali'i Kai passengers during the after-dinner show is one of the many duties of Kaman Oliveira. Above, tourists on Wednesday formed a "love chain" that weaved through the outstretched arms of Oliveira and other vessel staff members.
So how many people do you supervise on any cruise?
A: Well, I'm basically in charge of everybody on the cruise.
Q: What about the captain?
A: The captain has to let me know about the weather conditions, sea conditions, and if there are any changes that I need to know about.
Q: Have there ever been days or evenings when you really didn't want to go out because of the weather or big waves?
A: Oh yeah. There have been times when we had to just stay in the harbor and cruise around because it's so bumpy or whatever. But there are people who still don't get it. They think, "We paid for the cruise," and so they still want to go out. They don't care about the danger.
Q: Has anyone ever fallen overboard?
A: Someone jumped overboard once. It was a Chinese man. It was kind of funny. I wasn't at work that day, but I heard that he made a bet with his friend, and, of course, we had to go back and get him.
Q: Did he get in trouble?
A: Yeah. (Laughter) He was told he wouldn't be able to ride the boat anymore. He could have gotten arrested, actually, but we didn't let that happen.
Q: Do passengers get sea sick very often?
A: Yeah. Some of them can't handle even just a little bit of motion, and I don't know why they even ride the boat. When we notice that a lot of people are throwing up, we come back into the harbor.
Q: What do you do to help those folks?
A: We give them ginger ale, or we have these ginger pills they can take that will help their stomach.
Q: Do you ever get seasick?
A: Me? No.
Q: What would be one of the worst times you ever went out?
A: There was more than once when the water was really bad and we went out. There was one time water actually came onto the boat, when we made a turn. There were times when we've had to cancel.
Q: How many people show up on each ride?
A: Oh, it depends. I would say about three or four hundred. On Thanksgiving Day is the busiest. There were about 520 people onboard.
Q: Do you work on holidays, typically?
Q: Does your family go out on the boat with you ever?
A: Not really.
Q: Does the Ali'i Kai have a sail? If so, how come they never put it up?
A: We used to have one, but I guess they took it off.
Q: So it's a big, motor-driven thing.
Q: How many levels are there on the boat?
A: We have our main deck, and then a second deck, and that one they pay extra for it, because it has a different menu and stuff like that.
Q: Do they ever have a band?
A: Yeah, we have two bands -- one upstairs and one downstairs.
Q: What kind of music?
A: Downstairs is more Hawaiian, local Hawaiian, but upstairs is more contemporary.
Q: What kind of security do they have on board, in case anyone gets in a fight?
A: Actually, our deck hands are part of that. They ensure the safety of the passengers and keep an eye out in case anybody acts up.
Q: Where do you sit or work when the boat is out at sea? Is there an office?
A: We do actually have a little office that has a computer for things we need to do on there, like our schedules, but it's not very big.
Q: Do you all have to wear uniforms?
A: Yes, we have uniforms that we wear. I wear a different one than what the others wear.
Q: Because you're the boss?
A: Right. Because if they have a situation, they'll know who to look for.
Q: How long is your day?
A: We're usually done by about 9 o'clock at night.
Q: Does the boat go out just once a day?
A: Yeah, once a day. Sometimes more, it depends. Sometimes people privately charter the boat, and so we'll have to have the staff for that. We call it the moonlight charter.
Q: That goes out after the regular cruise?
A: Yes, it goes out at 8:30 to 10:30.
Q: But never during daylight hours?
A: Daylight would be just our regular sunset cruise. We do have a morning cruise, if people want to charter it and have lunch onboard. But those don't happen very often.
Q: How long do you think you'll keep doing this?
A: I'm not sure.
Q: But you like it?
A: Yeah, I enjoy it. I meet new people all the time -- people of new cultures.
Q: What about being out at sea?
A: It's fun being out at sea. I mean, I get to see the sunset more than anybody.
I know when I first started, I was so busy I didn't pay attention to the sunset. Now I have time to look. And when it's whale season, we see the whales sometimes, too.