It was the winter of 1978 when Cruise Director Dottie Kulasa took her very first cruise, trading Pennsylvania’s harsh winter weather for the balmy Caribbean. As the ship sailed to San Juan, St. Thomas, St. Maarten and other ports throughout the Caribbean, Dottie knew she was hooked. She remembers watching the staff during the voyage and thinking, “I can do this.”

2“I just fell in love with being on a ship and the travel aspect of the industry,” she said.

Following her graduation from college, Dottie went into public relations in Pittsburgh, eventually becoming the Director of Public Relations for McKeesport Hospital where she worked for seven years. During this period in her life, every vacation Dottie took was a cruise. Nearly ten years after her very first cruise, she began her career at sea in 1988. In fact, this spring marks Dottie’s 27th anniversary at sea, and all of these years later, she says she enjoys her role now more than ever.

3“Here at Oceania Cruises, I am so engaged with the guests and we are blessed to have wonderful, appreciative guests,” Dottie said. “I love being the spark that allows them to relax and have a wonderful vacation.”

Dottie’s life at sea is also what led her to meet her husband, stand-up comedian Tom Drake, nearly 19 years ago aboard a ship. They worked together for about three years before getting married, and still enjoy traveling and working together since Tom is a comedian for Oceania Cruises.

“Of course, being married to a comedian means I am the subject of a few of Tom’s jokes but they are all in good fun,” Dottie said. “He is constantly adding new material to his show and all of it is tested out on me…he makes me laugh all the time!”

4As Cruise Director, Dottie is at the center of activities aboard the ship and has had her share of memorable moments on board – some of which have a way of returning again and again. One such memory was aboard Nautica when in port at Salalah, Oman in 2011. Dottie recalls how they had a special deck party called “Sheik, Rattle & Roll Deck Party,” and that guests were encouraged to buy a traditional outfit in one of our ports of call.

“To our amazement, the majority of the guests arrived dressed in traditional outfits,” Dottie said. But even more remarkable, now years later, two of these guests on a recent voyage pulled up the photos they had taken at the party to show Dottie.

5“The pictures go everywhere they go as a reminder of the great times they’ve had on their Oceania Cruises voyages,” Dottie said.

After traveling throughout the world for all of these years, Dottie also has some distinct favorites when it comes to destinations. She loves the markets of Shanghai and enjoys doing her holiday shopping there, while Edinburgh is one of those rare travel discoveries for Dottie that enchants with its haunting familiarity.

“This might sound strange but in another life I know I lived in the Edinburgh Castle,” Dottie said, laughing.  “I feel as if I were once a handmaiden there.”

1Meanwhile, a little further south on the Adriatic, it’s the irresistible ambiance of Venice that lures her back again and again.

“I just love the romance of Venice and the food,” she said. “I’ll never tire of sailing into Venice.”

In fact, Dottie looks forward to visiting The Floating City once again this autumn aboard Marina, continuing her fascinating life at sea.

2 comments

  1. I would like to work on marine vessels if it is possible. I worked as waiter or assistan waiter, massman, office steward, etc.
    Iwould like to work in your company at a appropriate possition. I’m ready to work now. I’m looking forward to seeing your reply.
    NOTE: I HAVE AN U.S. VISA FOR FIVE YEAR AND ALSO THERE IS A HOME IN GERMANY TO STAY.
    BEFORE I WORKED THIS PLACES ( REFERENCES );
    HARRAN PARTNER GROUP SHIPPING ( in TANKER ) SHIP NAME (GERMANY COMPANY IN BREMEN): The ship name is Patagonia whose tonnage is : 17,500 tons REASON FOR LEAVING : CONTRACT END : 9 MONTHS. You can contact the ship Captain who is name is
    ????? ???????? and his facebook adress is https://www.facebook.com/elpolin.rg
    DENİZ CRUISE: Samsun, Ankara in SHIP (WAITER ) THE REASON FOR LEAVING I : SEASON SEASON : SEASON 7
    In the SHIP TOURS RENT FOUNTAIN ETS , in GREEK ISLANDS RESTAURANT TRIED (WAITER ) THE SHIP NAME: AGEN PARADISE. I worked in this ship with Endonosian, Ukranian and Greek people as a waiter. The Reason For Leaving : Season END OF SEASON : 3 MONTHS
    REFERENCE PHONES ;
    BLUEMAR SHIPPING : It is a crewning company. You can contact MUSTAFA CAPTAIN to this number: 0090506 273 36 76
    DENİZ CRUISE : REFERENCE NAME: CENGİZ KALKAVAN NUMBER: 0090533 514 59 32
    My own knowledge ;
    My Mobile Phone : 0090542 232 94 62
    My home address is : Ortabağlar Mahallesi Uluklu Sokak No: 10 YILDIRIM/BURSA/TURKEY
    MY EMERGENCY TELEPHONE : 0090534 571 63 80 (wife)

  2. our favourite cruise director. What a surprise also to read the story about the Sheik, Rattle and Roll Party. We were on board also. it was a wonderful night and cruise.
    Thankyou Dottie, we will always remember our cruise with you on Nautica