Ever thought about working on a cruise ship?
Free room and board, exotic locations, beautiful sunsets, etc.
They might give you a reason to marinate on it a little more.
Or, they could, depending on your circumstances, just confirm your urge to escape:
#1. Don’t get fired
It was the worst job I’ve ever had in my life.
Some bullet points:
If you get fired, the line I worked for would kick you off on whatever island they docked at next. Sounds fair – but some of these kids had just started working and had no money saved up that could get them home.
I did not have a single day off during my entire five-month contract, and we worked split shifts: anywhere from 12-17 hours a day.
You saw these amazing places from a porthole. I got off the ship like three times.
The percentage of people with an STD triples when you compare entry vs. exit tests. Lots’a freakiness.
I hooked up with a girl in one bunk while her roomie did the same with my buddy.
Lots of drinking.
#2. The full run-down
Ship DJ for 2 years checking in.
Male crew outnumber female crew approx 5:1.
If crew are caught sleeping with guests (they made us call them ‘guests,’ but we call you ‘cones’ when you can’t hear us), they’re put off in the next port with a ticket home.
That’s the threat at least. Only saw it put into action once.
Our food is terrible. We don’t eat what you eat, there are three levels of food for workers:
- Crew Food – Unidentifiable for the most part. Real ox tails in the oxtail soup. Lots of saffron rice.
- Staff Food – It’s like someone saw a picture of a buffet, and said ‘I can make that!’ but only had access to dumpster leavings. Many a night I’d wander to the staff mess and ask someone along the way what was for dinner. Many a night the reply was ‘Toast and cereal.’ They had pink ‘dessert’ that we called ‘Pepto Bismol surprise.’ The surprise was that it didn’t taste like Pepto Bismol, or anything else you’d put in your mouth. It was served in little metal cups, and if there was any left over, it would appear upside down, sans la cup, on a small plate the next day. If it was still uneaten on the third day, it became ‘Boob Food.’ Someone squirted a little areola of a whipped-cream like, edible oil product on the top, and placed a single raspberry on top. They disappeared after the 4th day.
- Officer’s Food – This is for anyone three stripes and above. It’s basically dining room food on the same rotation. Monday is chicken, Tuesday is steak, Wednesday is pork tenderloin…etc. The officer’s mess will sometimes cook custom goodies in exchange for favors from the officers.
We’re probably always drunk, hungover, or on our way to drunk.
We work 7 days a week, sometimes only 4-6 hours, but most of the time between 10-16 hours. We’re salaried, so there’s no OT.
To make up for this, Corona or Heineken cost $0.50/ea. Wine was $3 a bottle. Back-deck parties happen every night, and crew hallway parties are even more common.
On the Voyager of the Seas, I had an enclosed booth, so waiters and waitresses would duck in for a quick smoke and would bring me a rye and coke to buy my silence.
Most of us are single, aside from the very rare married couple working on ships. Several people came on-board with a BF or GF on shore, and within a month they were happily shacked up with someone from the ship.
We will mess with you. A favorite was while in a passenger area say to another crew-member, loud enough to be heard by pax, “Meet you in the bowling alley tonight!”
Then we’d wait for the comment cards to come in: “Why do crew get a bowling alley when we don’t?”
We’ve seen the worst of the traveling public.
I learned the following stereotypes:
- People from SoCal think they’re famous because they live close to LA. They’re the cattiest people I’ve ever met. Nice to your face, but will complain to your superiors behind your back.
- New Yorkers will let you know how they feel about you within minutes of meeting you, and will rarely change their minds.
- Nobody is from Florida. They live there now, but nobody is from Florida.
- Mid-westerners and Texans are some of the friendliest people around. Not the most liberal, but if you’re a white male, you’re damned good people.
- Rich Puerto Ricans don’t like being called American.
#3. See the world, make friends, get laid!
Ex cruise ship employee here.
We get absolutely plastered below deck. Everyone gets it on all over the ship.
My girlfriend at the time and I had a competition with an officer and his lady for the riskiest place to have sex. I thought we had won with the bow of the ship in the middle of the night.
He, being an officer, stopped the elevator midway. His lady and him jumped on top of the elevator while it was stopped and proceeded to actually ride the elevator and get it on as guests were getting on and off the elevator beneath them.
From what I know, he had a friend of his on the bridge stop the elevator for him, so they could get ‘in position.’ I assume he was also making sure the elevator did not crush them as well.
Secondly, I was a dancer in the cast on-board, and I had a lot more free time than most, being that all I did was perform in the shows.
I do suggest working on ships, for anyone who is curious. It’s a great way to see the world, make lifelong friends, and get laid!!
I know many couples who met on a ship and are married with kids now etc. It really sets the stage for a nice fling, or love, depending on where you’re coming from and what you’re ready for.”
#4. “We actually have more fun than the guests”
I am a cruise ship worker. First one is, we don’t want you to know that we actually have more fun than the guests. Sure we’ll work the big white hot party that you’re all going to, but once we finish our shift all hell is breaking loose in the crew bar.
Just below and to the sides of where you are sleeping there are crew members having sex, smoking and drinking. Our beers are $1. No drugs or spirits though.
We also don’t want you to know that all those funny jokes we tell you at bingo? Yeah…Same ones are said every. Single. Cruise. That really funny answer you gave us about your wife during the happy couples game? Heard it. It was said last cruise and the one before that, and the one before that…
We are not allowed to have sex with to passengers…But we do know the all the nooks and crannies the cameras don’t reach.
There are morgues below deck and a jail cell. We get at least 3 deaths on-board a month.
Some people go on a cruise to die.
#5. Tip with cash
I did a 6 month contract on a pretty popular cruise line…I was appalled at the way that employees were treated.
First off, the class system is abhorrent. There is crew, then staff, then officer. I had it easy because I was an officer (and being American also helped a lot).
Crew members had their own mess hall…and could not go to any of the other ones. Staff could go to their own or go ‘down’ to the crew mess. Officers had free range.
The differences in food between the three were impressive. The Crew mess had mostly rice and left over meat, whereas the officer’s mess had all kinds of great food and variety.
The room stewards and assistant waiters work their butts off…usually 14-16 hours a day if not more. We, as officers, were instructed to alter time cards in order to keep above the marine time laws. They also only get paid $200-300 a month…that doesn’t even cover their airfare to get to the cruise ship, nor does it cover their uniform costs.
The “charged to the room card” tips that are given to these hard working individuals do not actually go into their pocket – the majority goes to their bosses who sit in their office all day.
I personally had an issue with a guy that wouldn’t leave me alone. He was a cook and would sit outside my room, yelling things like how we were meant to be together and blah blah blah. He said that if we couldn’t be together than I couldn’t come out of my room.
I called HR and security and they basically told me that I had done something to deserve this. Believe be, I am all for a dude making me his princess but this was extreme. I legit started to fear for my safety, and the cruise line did nothing.
I was in the entertainment staff and managed all of the productions. Unless there was a broken bone, the dancers had to perform every single night, usually 2-3 shows a night, regardless of how much pain they were in.
We had to video tape every show and send it to corporate…and if they deemed a dancer didn’t ‘give it their all’ (even if they had a high ankle sprain that made their leg 3 times its size), they faced termination.
Speaking of termination, I went off at a port with one of my friends from the Philippines…He was a room steward and never got a day off so it was a big deal. We were out in Cozumel, having a great time, when it was finally time to go back to the ship.
When we got there, he wasn’t allowed to board. When we asked why, we were told he had been fired. He asked to board so he could get all of his stuff from the room and retrieve his PASSPORT from the ship but was denied.
He asked how the hell he was supposed to get home without his passport… and was told that they would ship all of his belongings and passport home and they could, in turn, send it to him wherever he ended up in Cozumel…
So, basically, the guy was homeless and stranded in Mexico until the ship got around to sending his passport home to the Philippines and his family managed to ship it back to him. Ridiculous.
During my cruise, we did ‘Dancing With The Stripes’ every cruise, and it was the same songs, and I did the same ‘routine’ every week.
Beers and cigarettes are dirt cheap for us, hence why basically every single crew member is probably trashed. Crew bar never closes.
So…Yeah…there were some good parts of it but definitely not worth going to work for.
If you ever go as a passenger, tip your waiters and room stewards in cash so they can keep it…and maybe give them money to buy a $20 phone card that will get them a 5 minute phone call home.