You may have been on a cruise, watched the “Love Boat” or just wondered
what it is like for to work on a cruise ship. I have been asked by a lot
of people what it is like to work on a luxury cruise ship?
I am here to answer your questions with a un-censored and candid view
into living and working on these floating
They clean your cabins, feed you wonderful meals, play games with you
help you spend your money, and for most of the crew try and give you a
wonderful vacation experience. But the lives of these hardworking men
and women on board is not always a working vacation. Cruise lines flag
their vessels in countries like the Bahamas, Panama, Libra and other
flags of convince for the part to avoid labor laws and minimum wages.
The men and women come to work on these vessels for many reason, some
for work as their home nation may have high unemployment and they can
make a better living at sea. Others come for adventure and escape, and
some are hotel and marine professional. With this said life at sea can
be a floating apartheid system. Separating crew into casts is a tried
and true tradition at sea.
Here is a quick breakdown of this separation, pay, quality of shipboard
life and to some degree nationality.
Officers: Officers are the ships management and separated into
* Marine / Deck & Engine; These folks are responsible for the
navigation, safety, environmental and physical plant of the
ship. Most are graduates of Maritime schools with a 4 year
degree they are professional seamen. They tend to come from
specific countries that have contracts with the cruise line, but
this is changing quickly to lower costs (it is always about the
money see my previous posts). They work 2 to 4 months on the
ship and 2 months off. These lucky folks have private cabins
usually with a window or porthole, which come in handy to cheat
on their spouses with and sexually harass passengers. They are
allowed to relax in the passenger areas of the ship on their
time off. And can be frequently seen drinking in the ships bars
& discos especially on mass on formal nights.
* Hotel Department Officers: The resort / rooms / food and
beverage dept. This particular species also usually wears
uniforms and even if they just manage a lounge take the strips
they wear seriously in a veiled attempt to seem self important.
Some of these people are tasked with stripping you of your money
at every turn others to make sure the nice folks who clean your
room, feed you your midnight buffet, and keep the ship tidy work
frightening long hours, live in fear of retribution and yes
sexually harass them. They can also can be seen in the bars and
lounges of the ship as they have deck privileges on their time
off. Like the Deck Dept, Hotel officers have private cabins,
work 2 to 4 months on 2 months off. In port they can be found
enjoying the local flavor like prostitutes, bars and casinos.
Whilst some will just soak up the sun.
Note: Not every Officer rules like Napoleon or Tito, some are kind, fun,
hardworking and fair. I have some very close friends who work in some of these positions. I also know
some people who are racists, misogynists, or just should never be allowed to interact
Staff: The staff you could say are the middle class of the shipboard
caste system. They include, the
giftshop attendants, spa staff, entertainers, photographers, kiddie
staff, cruise staff, musicians, techs, casino ect. This bunch of fun
lovers tend to come to sea for adventure, escape, healing from the
wounds of yet another failed relationship and for a chance for a job.
The staff, lives for drinking in the crewbar, drinking in the discos,
drinking in the lounges,drinking in the cabins,
drinking on the beach. They also love sharing sexual partners and STDS,
planning events. Some staff work onboard for 4 months others up to 8
months. No days off, no over time ( thank you flags of convince ).
Generally a fun loving crowd with various levels of greed and motivation
separate you from your money. They tend to come from countries that do
not offend the passengers, like Canada, UK, South Africa..
Crew: Crew sit on the bottom of the shipboard food chain.. and surprise
surprise they work the hardest. These are your, cabin stewards, waiters,
bartender, cleaner, cooks, dishwasher, etc. they tend to come from
economically challenged countries. So the crap wages that they send
religiously home to their family's each week seem pretty good in
comparison. And the six to 8 months they are away from home, while
sharing a cabin the size of a jail cell with no window, no access to
passenger areas of the ship when they are not working. They commonly
have to pay off the bosses for better work assignment, live in fear of
retribution from some hotel officers, and generally looked down on by
the passengers. These men and woman work very very hard and most love
their jobs and enjoy the passengers they work with. I have nothing but
respect for them have enjoyed their company and am disgusted by the
treatment they get.
So Isn't there an H.R. Dept on board? Yes there is but they are usually
ineffectual and protect their friends with many stripes on their
uniforms and ignore the plight of the crew . I witness a staff member
who claimed she was raped by a senior officer, get fired for her trouble
and the officer in question remained on the ship. So H.R. Is a placebo
in place to make the cruise lines look good.
I mentioned drinking is a major pastime on board, well when you work for
8 months with no real days off, you will get some port time off but
never a full 24hrs, drinking is all there is to do. The crew bar sells
drinks for around a buck a drink, and once a month the ship throws a
party for all the crew. Free drinks!!!. Not a good night for a ship wide
More on the caste system, besides contract lengths, and jobs there is on
some lines less opportunities for people to move up out of their caste.
Chances are your waiter will never be a food and bev. Manager. On some
there is outright racism. I was on a new crew orientation on a ship and
the Capt addressed some of his crew as his little boys who clean his
Bulling and protection are abound and ranges from mini shipboard mafias,
to power hungry middle management. You can not stuff all these people
from many cultures in tight spaces for along time while working and
living together and not expect some clashes. And incident of racism is
what eventually lead me to finally leave working on ships after the
accused was protected by his own nations co-workers.
As long as these cruise lines continue to flag of convince and the
public does not demand proper treatment for their employees these abuses
will continue, unabated.
Next installment of cruise lines un-censored “Passenger Antics”