By GERRY and PAMELA BARKER
On our 13-day cruise aboard Carnival Miracle to the Panama Canal, there were a number of highlights, not the least of which was our first full transit of the Canal. The Walled City in Cartagena was amazing, as were the volcanoes in Guatemala and the sailboat ride we took in Cabo San Lucas.
With so much time spent on the ship -- more than half the time were days at sea -- another highlight emerged as well: Miracle's Cruise Director, Chloe Loddo.
Having taken dozens of cruises, we are used to cruise directors who are energetic, upbeat and keep things moving. But Chloe takes all that and more to a whole new level. She seemed to be everywhere: Hosting shows, greeting guests, dancing, entertaining and overall being the poster girl for Carnival's mantra, "Choose Fun."
We were so impressed we asked to do a sit-down interview to discover how she's able to harness all that energy. Surprisingly, she hasn't always been that way.
"It's funny," she said. "I used to be really shy when I was growing up -- I was a bookworm. My mother was worried I would be in the playground reading a book and not interacting with the other children."
She attributes part of that to a speech issue. "I had a bad stammer when I was little. I couldn't get my consonants out. I struggled. My brain would go too quick and my mouth couldn't keep up."
But it also had a positive effect as well. "Because of my stammer, I danced and acted, and that helped me push through it." She added, "My dad happens to be a speech therapist, and that helped, along with acting Shakespeare. Shakespeare helped me slow down. I did so many plays where the director said 'slow down.' "
But growing up in Gilbraltar, the theater wasn't her only love. Chloe also aspired to be a writer.
"Writing was always a big thing for me," she said. "I used to express myself through my dancing and writing." While working on earning dual degrees in English Literature and Drama, she got a chance to do the latter through a work experience program at a local newspaper.
"It lasted two weeks and they asked me to come back in the summer. I did reviews of shows, wrote a 'Woman of the Week' column and covered a big court case as well."
While journalism was her goal, her life, as so often happens, was about to take a hard right turn. Her husband was a dancer, and landed a job on Carnival Sensation. "I went on a cruise with him during my winter term break, and he asked me if we wanted to do this together."
"I thought this could be really fun -- travel a little bit, save some money. I applied online, got an interview in London and got the job."
In 2010 she graduated from university and a week later, was serving as social host ("what they called us back then") on Carnival Imagination out of Miami.
What started as a lark evolved into a career. "I thought I would do it for a few contracts and it would be really cool to get to assistant cruise director. I never thought I would become a cruise director." She added, "I've really grown up with this company, and have had so many great mentors over the years." In the meantime, her husband has since retired from dancing and works at a university.
During our cruise, it was obvious she has tremendous people skills -- as well as an amazing memory. She can meet somebody once and call them by name the rest of the cruise. For the former, she credits Disney.
"This is going to sound really cheesy," she said, "but I love Disney movies. I'm a big Disney fan and just a happy human -- Disney movies gave me this happy, positive attitude. I'm just positive and happy all the time, which drives some people nuts."
While writing has had to take a backseat, it's still in her plans. "I want to get back to writing but now I just don't have time," she said. "I try keeping a diary, but I can barely read a book." When she does take vacation, she reads. "On my last vacation, I read seven books. I binge read."
She said she gets by with five hours of sleep a night, and works five months straight with two months off, but wouldn't trade it for anything. She also gave a lot of credit to the great team she works with.
Soon, she will be leaving Carnival Miracle and joining Carnival Spirt in Australia. "I'll be with the Aussies for a while."
"I genuinely love what I do," she said. "For me, it's all about the people having a great vacation, and I pour everything I have into the job every single day. It's an intense working environment -- you're with people 24/7 and don't get a day off. But I'll keep deep doing it as long as I love it."
Judging by how many guests went out of their way to give her a goodbye hug on Miracle, the feeling is mutual.
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