Kyndall “Fire” Magyar must be the only cruise director who lives in Crowley, Texas. On December 23, she will sail from Galveston on the maiden voyage of the Carnival Jubilee, a $1 billion Excel-class ship that has 19 decks and carries more than 6,400 passengers. It’s her job to make sure they all have a good time.
No disrespect to Crowley, but that seems like an odd place for a cruise director to live. How did you wind up working on the high seas? I started cruising when I was 7 years old, back in 2002. It was our family vacation every single year, and then when I went to college at Texas A&M, I got a tourism management degree. We did a study aboard trip, and I did an eight-day cruise with 28 other students where we learned about what it is like to work in the cruise industry.
How did you get the nickname Kyndall Fire? Please tell me that’s not an Amazon reference. It’s not an Amazon reference. It’s because anytime that I step onstage, I bring the heat. It came from one of my cruise directors. We were on a cruise that had been extended because of a hurricane, and on like the 12th day, he looked at me and was like, “What’s going on today, Kyndall Fire?” Like a phoenix, I rose from the ashes and became Kyndall Fire.
For older folks, you can just say, “I’m Julie from The Love Boat.” But how do you describe your job to younger people who wouldn’t get that reference? I would say I’m like the emcee of a vacation. Or I would say I’m like the Ryan Seacrest of your cruise. I’m there to facilitate all the fun.
Cruise directors sometimes work 16-hour days, and you can be at sea for up to six months at a stretch. How do you do that without going insane? It does take a very specific type of person. You do work really, really long hours every single day, and the team on board becomes your family. It’s kind of like living in a giant dorm room with a bunch of adults. Port days become sacred for phone calls home and getting real wifi at Starbucks.
How does your fiancé handle those long separations? We met on the Carnival Horizon back in 2018, when we were both on Fun Squad, and we fell in love when we were onstage. We got engaged in February in Dublin, and he’s now the cruise director on the Horizon. The company does a really good job of lining up our vacations so we see each other for two months at a time. When we’re cruising, the one thing that keeps us sane is, every night before we go to bed, whoever goes to bed first, depending on time zones, we send a video to the other person. We’re the last thing each other sees when we go to sleep, and we’re also the first thing that we see whenever the other one wakes up.
“I would say I’m like the emcee of a vacation. Or I would say I’m like the Ryan Seacrest of your cruise.”
What are your thoughts on bringing back keelhauling? What is keelhauling?
That’s when you’ve got a misbehaving crew member and you tie a rope to him and drag him all the way under the ship, underwater, across the keel. They survive, but it’s not pleasant. That sounds like some pirate stuff. If anything, we’ll make them have an ice cream-eating competition.
What is the likelihood that you’ll have a passenger on board who has previously had to drive a city bus rigged to explode if it goes slower than 50 mph, and then a hacker gets into the computer navigation system of the Jubilee and sets it on a collision course with an oil tanker, and then that very same passenger has to save your ship? That sounds like the plot of a new Mark Wahlberg movie.
You haven’t seen Speed 2: Cruise Control? Sandra Bullock and Willem Dafoe? Absolutely not. I don’t even know what Speed 1 is. But I would say the chances of that happening are slim to none. The only thing that’s going to be exploding is the energy from the cruise director and all the Fun Squad.
This story originally appeared in the December issue of D Magazine with the headline “Come Sail Away.”Write to [email protected].