There’s no telling where a degree from The University of New Mexico might take you. Estevan Velasco-Romero of Clovis ended up in the Caribbean aboard a Carnival Cruise Line ship as a singer and dancer.
A shy child, Velasco-Romero was born in Albuquerque but grew up in Clovis.
“Though I didn’t grow up in Albuquerque, I frequently visited. I have a few family members that live in the area including my uncle who is someone that I would stay with over summer breaks. Spending so much time with him allowed me to learn about Albuquerque, and I fell in love with the city. Before graduating from Clovis High, I focused on courses that would help me get into the architecture program at UNM, which initially sparked my interest in the school, but my love for the city and culture was what really brought me there,” he said.
In high school, he learned how to read music and watched his mother participate in church choir and hip-hop aerobics, setting the stage for his musical career. At UNM, Velasco-Romero majored in and graduated with a bachelor of arts degree in psychology, but it was his minor in modern dance and the UNM environment that set him on a course to the cruise industry.
“Obviously, having learned dance technique and the history of dance has helped me in my current field of performing, but it was the environment I was in at UNM that helped me learn how to be a healthy, functioning member of society. UNM was a melting pot of cultures that rewarded me with friendships with people from all over the world. Learning about their cultures and ways of life helped me grasp a better understanding that there is more than what I grew up around. It’s a similar environment on ships. I work and live with people from all over the world, and with the knowledge I gained from UNM, I can appreciate and understand the differences in people so much more.”
Velasco-Romero was approached by a classmate who offered him a position as a backup dancer for a local drag queen. From then on, he was immersed in the Albuquerque dance community, especially at the Musical Theatre Southwest. He took small jobs in town for a year before moving to Las Vegas to follow his dreams of being a full-time performer. There, he worked days at a salon and nights selling merchandise at concerts by Britney Spears, Mariah Carey and Celine Dion. He finally landed his first professional job with Carnival Cruise Line in 2016.
“I sing, dance, act, choreograph, and entertain. Currently, I perform nightly in the Playlist Productions shows for Carnival Cruise Line. I love that I get to do something that I’m passionate about for work.”
Carnival news desk specialist Chelsea Stromfeld noted that Carnival’s entertainment team welcomes and encourages other talented UNM alumni to apply for positions onboard. Those interested in career opportunities on the high seas as singers, dancers, DJs, musicians, technicians and more can check out CarnivalEntertainment.com for additional details.
Occasionally, Velasco-Romero meets a tourist from the Land of Enchantment on the ship.
“It’s so refreshing! They are always surprised to see a fellow New Mexican so far from the desert working in the Caribbean as a cruise ship performer, however, it’s very rewarding to represent,” he said.
“Here’s one story I love: I used to be a server at Cheddar’s on I-25 where I regularly waited on a young girl and her grandfather every week and used to talk to them about my dreams of becoming a performer. They were always so encouraging and supportive. Well, fast forward two years later on my first ship, Carnival Imagination out of Long Beach, California, and that same girl saw me perform in the shows, ran up to me afterwards, gave me the biggest hug and said she was so proud of me for following my dreams.”
But his cruise ship career isn’t all song and dance.
“Being an entertainer isn’t my first priority on a cruise ship. I’m a crew member with safety duties. While I learn the choreography and songs for the shows I perform in, I’m also required to take various training courses to be a qualified seaman.”
Best of all, Velasco-Romero gets to travel.
“Some of my favorite places include Curaçao, Aruba, San Juan, Grand Turk, and Ocho Rios. I get to go to so many amazing ports that I wouldn’t ever normally travel to. Being able to travel and dance is a dream come true.”