Usually when I tell people that I work on a cruise ship, I invaribly get asked many questions about it. The most common one is “What is it like to work on a cruise ship?” Answer: Imagine a mash-up of high school, summer camp, a hotel, United Colors Of Benetton and Battlestar Galatica. But at sea and with a disproportionate number of guys. The second question is “why are there so many guys?” Answer: I don’t know. I think women hate going to idyllic islands with pristine white sand beaches and water so blue, it looks like it’s been Photoshopped.
Apart the normal questions, I occasionally get some fairly ridiculous ones, which is very indicative that they have probably never stepped foot on a cruise ship before. Here are my 7 favorites:
Q: Are you allowed to hook up with guests?
A: If you’ve ever been on a cruise ship, you’d know how ridiculous this question is – apart from the obvious corporate liability issues. Firstly, “young” on a cruise ship is like 50. OK I’m exaggerating – more like 45. Anyway to answer your question, no and it would be a zero-tolerance violation. I remember this one time, I was asked to meet up for a martini by a very young (43) attractive guest, so I hid in crew areas for the rest of the cruise. Okay, maybe that was an over-reaction!
Q: Are there lots of drugs on board?
A: Really? It’s still a place of work, not Burning Man. Btw, having drugs while you’re going from port to port makes you a drug trafficker – which is a much more serious offense than possession/consumption. And trying to bring drugs on board a cruise ship is like trying to bring drugs on board a plane – you’d have to find a way past security. Besides booze on board is duty-free. And legal.
Q: Do all the crew cabins have windows (ie. portholes)?
A: Far from it. Imagine a shipping container but 1/3 the size. Now put in a shower, toilet, closet, TV, mini-fridge and bunk beds. That’s your average cabin (How else do you expect them to fit 1000+ crew?). It’s actually quite cozy and perfect for minimalists. Also, it’s really easy to sleep when there’s no natural light. When I first started working on ships, I used to wake up in the morning and think I was dead or blind or both. It took me a few days before I realized there was a light-switch next to my pillow.
Q: Is everything free for crew on cruise ships?
A: The food in the mess and accomodation is provided to the crew. However, there are still many ways to spend money on board especially internet, coffee, bottled water, soda, junk food and booze.
Q: Does everyone hook up at the crew parties?
A: Unfortunately, this is just statistically improbable. When you average 9:1 guys to girls, there will be some lonely hearts (despite the “valiant efforts” by some individuals). The crew parties are still fun though. Imagine being in a dark, smoky basement with a bunch of truck drivers and everyone there was encouraged to dress in theme for the night. It’s a bit like that!
Q: Is possible to just turn up to a cruise ship and ask them for work?
A: Have you ever turned up to a plane and asked them if you could work on board? Try that and you’ll get your answer.
Q: I just want to go from Point A to Point B and/or only work for the summer. Is it possible to do that?
A: Not unless you’re kind of a big deal. What some people don’t realize is that working on a cruise ship is still a real job – not summer camp. So it’s in the company’s best interest to hire permanent contractors, rather than career tourists. Obviously, ship life isn’t for everyone. Some people only last one 6-month contract, some do a few contracts and then quit, and others make a life-long career out of it.
Do you have a ridiculous question to ask? Go ahead!
This post was sponsored by How To Work On A Cruise Ship – complete eGuide.