Sandrine's job title literally translates to 'Entertainment Supervisor', but as we discovered there's far more to her role than the name suggests...
Please could you give a brief description of your main responsibilities?
I work as a hostess within the onboard accommodation team, which falls under the responsibility of the hotel manager. However the role is quite varied, and sometimes I'm required to work directly with the purser. My primary role is actually to welcome customers, and therefore I need to be present at all times when passengers are embarking or disembarking
I understand that you also look after customers travelling in groups?
Yes. The Responsables Animations are responsible for welcoming all passengers travelling in a group, whether that's a small group (minimum 9-10 people) or a large group (sometimes as many as 300!), a group travelling in a coach or as foot passengers, a school group, or a group of adults etc. We organise their arrival on board, identify them as soon as they embark, gather them together and issue them with any information relevant to their crossing.
I imagine you find yourself answering a lot of questions?
Yes - you need to have a perfect working knowledge of all the different points of sale on board the ship, and how they function, for example we need to know about menus and prices. But the questions customers ask are really very varied - for example I am often asked how to unfold the bunk beds - you really need to be ready to respond to almost any question at any time! It means we have to liaise closely with other onboard departments, for example the different restaurant managers in the salon de thé, the self-service restaurant and the bar.
Please can you explain the other parts of your role?
As Responsable Animations, I am the onboard representative for the team of British entertainers. I also liaise closely with the entertainment manager to determine the programme of onboard entertainment, and to make sure that we're offering suitable events and timings. I also print copies of this programme which we then make available for passengers at the information desk. We also display this programme on a noticeboard in the different entertainment venues.
As well as this, I'm responsible for running the ship's two cinemas. This involves devising a programme of films to suit the passenger mix on board each crossing, overseeing ticket sales, and working with the ship's radio officer and engineers to ensure that the audio-visual equipment is working properly. We also take care of the digital display screens located throughout the ship, which we can control using the 'Innes' software. We try to organise a range of entertainment for both adults and children. Often these activities are themed around topical events or special occasions which can be celebrated on board, for example the World Cup, Royal Weddings, D-Day, Easter, Mother's Day - the list goes on!
Finally, sometimes we look after passengers with special requests or requirements - for example VIPs who have been invited to visit the bridge - and we therefore need to know some technical information about the ship in order to be able to answer their questions.
What's your favourite element of the job?
What I love most is the autonomy that the role brings. This freedom allows us to be more available to the passengers, rather than being enclosed in an office for hours on end. Another aspect I love is the variety the job brings: I find myself working with every different department on board in one way or another. We have a real abundance of exchanges, both with colleagues and passengers. You could say that our role is to reduce the distance that passengers can sometimes feel between themselves and the crew - by promoting communication. We are always looking to offer an even better quality of welcome, to satisfy passengers' expectations further, and to make the travel experience as harmonious as possible. I think it's a very privileged job.
In January 2015 I started my 12th year with Brittany Ferries, and I find that so hard to believe! I can truly say my time on board has flown by, in no small part due to the great feeling of solidarity I've enjoyed with my colleagues - whichever route or ship I've been on, and whatever difficulties we've faced. When you're on board, seven days on, seven days off for a year or more with the same people on the same ship, you no longer feel that these are simply colleagues, but rather that they are members of a family. I am sure that our passengers feel this warm, friendly, 'family' atmosphere, and for me that's one of the things that makes Brittany Ferries the company that we are.