Working on a cruise ship sounds interesting as it allows you to travel the seas and witness some unique scenery that can never be seen from the land. Check the following stories revealed by cruise ship workers through which you’ll find out what it’s really like to live and work at sea.
Working on ships allows you to travel the world and simultaneously earn some money. One employee wrote about his experience on Reddit that “in five years on cruise ships, I literally traveled the world. I basically visited every continent except Antarctica and went to over 75 countries.”
Employees have discrepancies in salaries, so their living conditions range like the tides. For example, when the majority of employees are crammed into a cabin, sharing small space with others, the officers are able to sleep in a single room.
Although the party culture is popular among employees, it isn’t as fun as it seems. When Brian David Bruns, a former waiter for Carnival Cruise Lines, spoke to Business Insider, he said that the stress and loneliness of working on a cruise ship often made social drinking turn into self-medication.
Different from working traditional five-day weeks, cruise-ship employees often need to work seven days a week. A former worker for Carnival Cruise Line said that he had once worked about 12 hours a day and couldn’t get enough sleep. His crazy schedule is typical of most employees working on the ship.
Cruise ship workers with lower wages often have to accept the leftovers from the crew cafeteria, according to five cruise ship employees interviewed by Business Insider. Realistically, it is impossible for workers from different places to find similar food that they would eat at home. However, not everyone holds the same opinion about this problem. Two former employees said they were satisfied with both the quality and variety of the food served to them.
Employees have almost zero privacy because the thin cabin walls make it easy to hear any voices made by their neighbors. If you happen to develop a relationship with a crew member, there are no escaping awkward conversations.
The employees are not allowed to have an affair with passengers, or they will be sent home at the next port on their dime. The strict rules even require crew members not to ride the same elevator with a single passenger.
“There’s a lot of sex on cruise ships,” said a former casino manager for Holland America Line. It becomes a distinctive feature of working on a cruise ship that married workers cheat on their partner while away from home, and homosexuals who are out of the closet turn to be dishonest too.
One employee has revealed one of the aspects of life on board: Wifi was $5 a day for 24-hour access to limited social media apps or $10 for 100 minutes unrestricted. I spent too much money on wifi.”
Since lodging and food are included, working for a cruise will help save money if employees don’t blow it all at the crew bar. Some of them just can’t deal with the long boring life onboard and often blow their money on more enjoyable pastimes.
Crew members complained that their wages are far lower than they should be since they have to work such a long time without a single day off for 6–8months at a time.
In order not to cause panic among passengers, crew members sometimes choose to use the code language to announce things. There are shorthand codes for almost every expression.
There is an interesting economy that exists onboard a cruise ship. Crew members from the same region will provide specific goods. For example, the Indian group is responsible for getting food for the crew after-parties, while the Filipino mafia is in charge of acquiring booze.
Passengers will be asked about their experience and opinion of the cruise at the end of a journey. If an employee receives good feedback from them, it means he will get an upgrade in salary.
Ships have a special sauce that is used to help food become soft. It’s a type of fat that also has a laxative effect.
Crew members need to look out for pirates even if it’s unlikely they’ll meet them. If that happens, the crew members will stop them from boarding by spraying the intruders with giant water cannons, and guests will be asked to get away from windows.
There is a morgue on board in case of an emergency. The morgue is usually very small, but it is an important feature.
As you know, illness can spread quickly onboard, so everyone hopes a sick passenger or staff is not on the ship. According to an employee for Celebrity Cruise Lines, if a staff member gets sick, he will be left alone for as long as a week.
Working on a cruise ship is like living in a caste system where officers rank at the top, followed by entertainment, front-of-house, and lastly back-of-house. Salaries can be also different from country to country. For example, Indonesian workers may need work 12–14 hours a day to make $600 per month, while an American crew member might work 6–10 hours a day to make $3,000 a month.
For regular employees, their long work time is a great way to pass the time. While for someone in the cruise band, their working hours are shorter, so they need to find other ways to occupy the time. Some cruise band members will choose to drink at the crew bar. They said, “there’s no such thing as a ‘dry’ country. You can find somewhere to drink in port, even in strict Islamic countries.”