Throughout the year, Holland America Line has been holding “Dancing with the Stars: at Sea” programming on all 15 ships in the fleet.
From theme cruises featuring stars and professional dancers from the show to shipboard guest competitions, the “Dancing with the Stars: at Sea” season culminates with the Jan. 12, 2014, Champions Cruise aboard ms Nieuw Amsterdam.
One winner from each ship was selected to represent “their” ship during the Champions Cruise where they will dance in front of an audience and judging panel that includes “Dancing with the Stars” professional dancers Derek Hough, Tristan MacManus and Kym Johnson, as well as actress Sabrina Bryan, singer Joey Fatone and television personality Carson Kressley.
Now it’s time to meet six of the winning champions (in ship alphabetical order) who are busy polishing their dance moves before setting sail on the Jan. 12 cruise.
Eurodam: The first cruise was a charm for Austin Tran, who will be returning for the Champions Cruise to compete for the mirrorball trophy.
Austin is an engineer from San Jose, Calif., who loves to dance socially. Among his favorite dances are the Latin Rumba, Waltz, Foxtrot and Cha Cha, which he was dancing with professional dancer Rachel when he won his Dancing With the Stars: at Sea competition on Eurodam.
When asked why he likes to dance, Austin kept it simple — it’s fun! That’s not to say he’s not competitive:
“I am hoping to be a winner at the grand finale since I love to perform in front of the audience and especially pro dancers Kym Johnson and Tristan MacManus.”
Maasdam: Dorothy Hobart from East Amherst, N.Y., has been dancing since she was 11 years old, so it’s no surprise that she won her ship’s competition performing the Jive with professional partner Jeff. It was icing on the cake for Dorothy, who was on her first cruise with her husband celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary.
Although currently a substitute teacher, Dorothy and her sister opened their own dance studio when she was a senior in high school where she was co-director and teacher for 44 years.
Dorothy likes dance because:
“I feel that dancing is a very healthy way to exercise. It is not only stimulating to the body and intellect, but it provides one of the best ways for recreation. The physical activity done to different rhythms and music provides a very healthy, exciting way to enjoy a beautiful life.”
She enjoys all types of dance like tap, modern jazz and ballet, but in the ballroom she prefers the Swing.
Nieuw Amsterdam: Randy Estoesta is always on the lookout for a new hobby. The San Jose native has earned four degrees and is on his way to a fifth degree in architecture, while working full time as a facility coordinator at RRM Design Group in San Luis Obispo, Calif. This high-energy performer started dancing in high school to meet new people and to explore the scene. While he prefers to dance hip-hop and contemporary he has experience in a range of styles from ballet to tap and jazz.
“There was a poster on my wall back at home, and it is still there to this day. It was a stuffed bear running and it said, ‘You’ll never know what you can do, until you try.’ So in life, I always try to keep an open mind and trying new things. Who knows, it could be a new hobby.”
Randy and his professional partner Erin won their event dancing the Samba, which he likened to his experience with the Cha-Cha … but “with more hip movement!”
Noordam: Kristin Capaldo was cruising on Noordam for her honeymoon when she entered the Dancing with the Stars: at Sea guest dance competition. She and her professional partner Todd won dancing the Jive.
This first-time Holland America Line cruiser is a certified public accountant from Cumberland, R.I., and loves a dance style that is upbeat. She also enjoys teaching dance. As for why she likes dancing, Kristin says:
“It is a great way to express myself and fantastic exercise!”
Oosterdam: Jose Javier Omar danced his way to victory on his Alaska cruise with partner Sarah performing the Samba, one of his favorite styles. His other is the Mambo, which is no surprise since this Frisco, Texas, resident hails from Puebla, Mexico.
Now a teacher, Jose started dancing when he was 10 years old, which came in handy on his second Holland America Line cruise when he won the Dancing with the Stars: at Sea competition.
When asked why he likes to dance, his answer was short and sweet:
“It’s fun! And because I can!”
Prinsendam: Julie Hurt is a freelancer from Chicago. Those who regularly follow the Holland America Blog may remember Julie’s super-romantic Baltic cruise. As she and her family saw the sights from the Hermitage Museum to Helsinki, her sister, Jeanette, chronicled the journey here on the blog.
“It was the BEST few weeks of my life. We were celebrating my parent’s 45th wedding anniversary. The captain renewed my parents’ vows – a half-an-hour before the celebration began the love of my life proposed to me!! I’m sure my fiancé and I will take many more Holland America cruises.”
One Holland America cruise she will certainly be on is the Champions Cruise. Although she modestly claims her only dance experience comes from cheerleading in high school, Julie quick-stepped her way to victory onboard ms Prinsendam with the Jive.
Stay tuned for another post that will introduce the rest of the winners!