RUN KATIE, RUN!
For thousands of Regent Seven Seas Cruises crew members, the return to sail was awaited with great excitement, each relaunch suggesting another step back to normalcy. Excitement was met with trepidation for many because the world had changed whether we wanted to believe it or not. And in the world of cruising, change is now almost a daily occurrence as we keep seafarers' health and safety at the forefront of our mission.
Our theatrical entertainers started rehearsals in early June 2021 at the Creative Studios by NCLH in Tampa, FL. Despite pre-employment Zoom meetings, there were still many unknowns.
"The performers understandably had many questions about what ship life would be like, and the truth is we couldn't be sure," remembers Regent Seven Seas Cruises Theatrical Artistic Director, Kai Carrier. “Covid regulations vary from port to port and are constantly changing. What we do know is that our commitment to delight and enchant our audiences has never been stronger. I wanted to commit to focusing our vision on elevating the shows even higher than they had been pre-pandemic. That was the one thing in our control."
Katie O'Brien opens the show Diamond Run on the Regent Seven Seas Splendor with her eye on the highly sought after Blue Diamond!
Similarly, vocalist Katie O'Brien made a personal commitment early on when she accepted her contract aboard Seven Seas Splendor. A veteran who has performed on all Regent ships (except Seven Seas Voyager, expect that story soon), Katie was keen to get back on stage and jumped at the chance to perform on the brand's first relaunch. Knowing that uncertainties were inevitable, Katie set her goal to run the 'Rock N Roll Arizona' Marathon on January 16, the day after her contract ended. That meant that all Katie's training had to occur during her contract. Regardless of the weather, regardless of shore leave or port restrictions, Katie pledged to run an average of 30-35 miles per week on board in order to be ready for 26.2 miles at the end of her contract.
“I had committed to the company to be ready to perform to the same standards as two years ago,” she said. “And I knew that a personal fitness goal would also help support that commitment."
An experienced runner, Katie remembers past fitness training while performing for Regent Seven Seas Cruises in Stockholm, Sydney, and Kotor with stunning backdrops (you really get to see destinations differently when you're moving at your own fast pace), but this time had to deal with the hot Caribbean sun as a training companion.
Katie O'Brien, Bradley Gayle and cast bring down the house in the beautiful production of Bohemian Soul.
"I did almost all of my training runs before sunrise on the jogging track to beat the heat and island sun. Getting out of bed that early, especially after shows, was hard enough, but what I didn't account for as a challenge was morning dew on the deck...plus the wind. I would go on the treadmill if it got too intense, but I really don't like treadmills; they don't properly prepare you to run that far on land. When shore leave restrictions allowed, I ended up doing many of the long runs outside – sometimes with guests who would cheer me on!"
Seven Seas Splendor’s shows Bohemian Soul and the stunning Diamond Run are the most technically advanced the fleet has to offer, and the fast pace and quick costume changes mean that each performance can feel like a marathon.
After six months, Katie bid farewell to Seven Seas Splendor and debarked in the Dominican Republic on January 15. "Two flights went miraculously as planned, and 13 hours later, I was in Phoenix. My mom had picked up my race bib, bought groceries, and even cooked me a pasta dinner to scarf down when I got home."
"Running improves not only my physical endurance on stage, but it also makes the big money notes so much more powerful! Long notes that I might have worried about in rehearsal became more manageable as my breath support and lung capacity changed."