Cruise ships are usually associated with relaxation, romance, and partying it up. However, these ships aren’t all just fun in the sun. There’s a secret world on that ship that only cruise ship workers know about — and they work hard to keep it hidden from the passengers on board. So just what goes on behind the scenes? Read on and find out.
1. The Crew Speak In Code
Don’t let that majestic appearance fool you: cruise ships are not immune to emergencies and disasters. Fires break out, storms strike, and people magically vanish from the ship. According to The Sun, 200 people have disappeared on cruise ships since the year 2000.
When an emergency strikes on board, there’s a good chance that a passenger won’t hear anything about it even if crew members are talking about it right in front of them. Once things take a dim turn, the staff and crew will immediately begin speaking in code, so that passengers won’t be alarmed by a possible dire situation.
2. Forget About Romancing The Crew
If you’re a passenger on a cruise ship and a crew member has caught your eye, you can forget about anything happening with him/her. While some people go on the ships with a fantasy of romancing the captain, this is pretty much the quickest way to see the liner get sued and the staff member fired.
Staff and crew members have a lot of fun working on cruise ships. They can get away with a lot of antics, but one thing that is strictly forbidden is getting romantic with passengers. Were this to occur, they would be instantly terminated and asked to leave the ship on the next scheduled stop.
3. Love Within The Staff
While you’ll rarely find a staff member and passenger leaving the ship hand in hand, that doesn’t mean that all of the staff are wallowing in loneliness. Cruise ship crew members work together, party together, and are often times sanctioned to their own private part of the ship and forbidden to party in the passenger area on their off hours.
Given the amount of time these crew members spend together, it’s no shock that romance often bubbles up between them. The situation is extremely common and accepted by cruise lines. If you think about it, it’s actually an extremely ideal situation for romance.
4. Things Get Cliquey At Sea
From the way they present themselves, you might figure that all the staff are best friends once they clock out for the hour. However, this just isn’t the case. People who work on cruises come from all over the world, speak different languages, have different religions, and sometimes even just different political views.
This means that there are a lot of boundaries between people. You’ll find that two people who work side by side all day may never speak off the clock. They are part of two separate social groups that won’t just hang out with anyone else on the staff.
5. Crew Cabins According To Rank
When you apply for that job on the Carnival Cruise line, don’t expect that you’ll be sleeping in a cabin with a comfy bed, a giant window, and a desk where you can keep a sea journal. Unless you’re the captain or some high-ranking officer, you’ll likely be sleeping in some cramped quarters.
Those quarters won’t even be your quarters alone. Cruise ship staff usually share their cabins with at least four other individuals. On an even sadder note, the rooms will likely be completely windowless. The only luxury one can hope for in these rooms is getting a bottom bunk.
6. Keep An Eye Out For Pirates
One of the most legendary terrors on our seven seas are Somali pirates. They are usually heavily armed and looking to board any vessel in their path. These pirates have been known to stalk after Russian and American navy ships. That said, they won’t hesitate to go after a cruise ship when they see one.
Most of us on land don’t think of pirates as a threat in the 21st century, but cruise ship employees are fully aware of their existence. While it’s highly unlikely that they will run into pirates, staff is still trained extensively on how to handle a situation involving pirates.
7. Learning To Love Leftovers
If you’re wondering whether a cruise ship hierarchy exists, it most certainly does. When you are on board a cruise ship, the guests are everything. They bought the tickets and they’re basically treated like royalty. The staff is quite literally eating the leftovers off their plates. Okay, not literally, but almost.
After the guests finish up eating their fancy meals of steaks, lobsters, and mashed potatoes, the chef will take whatever is left over and try to make something out of it. This is the meal that will feed staff. Often times, the least appealing part of the meals get left over, and the cruise ship staff simply learns to make do.
8. Working Make The Most From Tips
Unless you’re in a high ranking manager position or captain of the ship, you aren’t going to be making amazing money working on a cruise ship. Most of the reward comes from the experience of being out at sea and the ability to save most of your earnings.
All the big money comes from tips left by the passengers. However, that tip isn’t going to one specific employee. The money is usually split up and shared throughout everyone on the staff. That said, things are far from equal. The most bubbly and kind workers are usually getting a little more money to their name.
9. Cruise Work Makes Saving Easy
While working on a cruise ship seems like a really fun time, there is a question of how much money you’ll rake in. When taking into consideration rent, bills, as well as cash for food, a cruise ship salary looks like a one-way ticket to a life of struggle. However, while working on a cruise ship, everything is free for the workers.
The workers aboard a cruise don’t have to fork over any cash for their cabin, meals, and sometimes even drinks. All of their money goes right into their savings. Cruises are especially ideal for foreign workers who want to send most of the money home to their families.
10. No Day Of Rest
If working day in and day out for over a week straight doesn’t seem ideal for you, you might want to pass on the idea of ever working on a commercial cruise line. The staff and crew on cruise ships don’t get any days off throughout the duration of the cruise. If they are lucky, they might run into a slow day.
Thankfully, these hard workers aren’t slaving away for hours on end. They work on a rotational basis, which means that each one gets a few hours off during his or her work day. This means that they can take a power nap when they need to, and then hit the deck again.
11. Traveling The Globe
When it comes to working on a cruise ship, workers don’t stay on board scrubbing the decks and making all the beds while all the guests get to filter off the ship and explore one of the many stops along the ship’s route. Workers also get to enjoy their own day of exploring the world.
Many crew members will get a day on land right alongside the passengers. So, if you just so happen to be looking to become an Instagram influencer but you are living on a tight budget, this the perfect way to get all those exotic shots that few people can get ahold of.
12. You Can Get Left Behind
While it may seem that anything goes for passengers on board a cruise ship, there are a few golden rules that absolutely can’t be broken. One of those has to do with getting to the ship at the scheduled time of departure.
Once you make your first stop, it’s easy to lose track of time amid the excitement of being in a foreign land. However, if you are running late for your ship’s departure, don’t think that they’ll be waiting for you. If cruise ships stay at a port longer than the allotted time, they can receive some very hefty fines. With that in mind, they will not hesitate to leave someone behind.
13. Guests and Passengers Overindulge
Cruise ships and having fun pretty much go hand in hand. You’re on this boat in the middle of the ocean and the only thing you can do is relax and let loose. One can eat at a buffet three times a day, and there are plenty of snacks to be had.
You can literally just sit by the pool, and of course, that’s what many passengers end up doing. Once the staff is off the clock, they easily fall into this same loop. However, seeing as they have work the next day, they usually have to hold back a bit.
14. Big Brother Watches You
Cruise lines invest a great deal of money in order to best protect themselves. Most of this protection comes in the form of surveillance equipment. When you take your next trip on a cruise, you might not know it, but cameras are watching every move you make until you get into your cabin.
The high amount of cameras don’t just protect the corporation, but also the staff and passengers. Cruise ships aren’t strangers to incidents, and staff’s ability to easily grab footage from one of their cameras can really make or break someone’s court case. If you’re ever think of causing trouble on a cruise, think twice about it.
15. There’s A Morgue On Board
Life on board a cruise ship is all about partying under the sun and relaxing. Some of the passengers on board are well into their golden years and sometimes they party a bit too hard. Good times end on a dim note if someone passes away while on the cruise.
One thing you’ll never know going on a cruise ship is that there is indeed a morgue on board. If a tragedy were to occur on the cruise, the body of the deceased would be stored in the ship’s morgue and the party can go on for everyone on the deck above. It may not seem right, but it happens all the time.
16. Diversity On The Staff
One of the coolest things about working on a cruise line is the diverse staff surrounding you. You’ll find yourself brushing elbows with fellow employees spanning everywhere from Ukraine to Thailand. While you work and travel around the world, you’ll literally be working with people who are themselves from all around the world.
If you’re interested in learning about new cultures, cruise ship work might be just what you’re looking for. Cruise lines also go out of their way to hire a bulk of people from more developing countries, as their acceptance of lower wages ends up saving the cruise line a lot of money.
17. All Laws Apply On Board
Some people have the wild notion that anything goes once you’re out at sea and that the laws of your home country don’t really come into play when you’re on a cruise ship. However, there is a thing called maritime law. It basically combines United States laws with international laws when it comes to things like torts, injuries, and offenses.
A popular crime that’s often committed on cruise ships has to do with people trying to smuggle illicit substances from abroad. A lot of people have tried this, and many of them have ended up in prison with a heavy sentence. That’s easily the worst way to end your cruise.
18. Crew Parties Are The Best On Board
If you think that the guests are having a wild time floating about in their swimming pools and having stale conversations over a drink, you should get a load of the crew. They work hard all day and party pretty much all night. The passengers may never really see these festivities, but in the crew’s cabins and in their isolated area on the ship, it’s on.
Even when you’re working everyday out at sea, you have to find some time to unwind. The staff is usually well-adapted to life on a cruise ship, and they know all the best ways of having a good time while they’re out there. Folks can definitely learn something from this diverse crew.
19. The Crew Love Pranks
After having to work on a cruise for weeks and weeks at a time, the staff can get pretty restless and bored. Often times, they need to get creative about how to have a good time — and one of their ruses is likely to catch folks off guard. They sometimes garner a laugh or two by pranking their unexpecting guests.
They usually won’t do anything that’ll cause hurt feelings or see them get fired, but are adept at carrying out cute, harmless little pranks. At the end of the day, this is just something that adds to the charm of the worker and who knows? It may even see them get some extra tips.
20. Internet Is Bad
If you aren’t ready to literally leave it all behind for a week or two or even longer, don’t get on that cruise ship. Once you are there, you’ll likely have a hard time keeping up with your favorite Netflix show or sports team. If you’re a sucker for binge-watching in your spare time, you can kiss that life goodbye once on the ship.
Cruise companies aren’t exactly calling attention to this little fact, but Internet connections are generally expensive and extremely unreliable once you’re out at sea. Given the major lag, it’ll likely take you all day to complete a 30-minute show. Some can easily shrug this off and find another hobby, but others will feel lost without their shows.
21. Cruise Ships Have To Fill Unsold Cabins
Cruise ship tickets aren’t always selling like hotcakes. Every so often it comes to pass that the ship looks as though it might steam out of port with an amount of passengers that’s seriously lagging in numbers. While a half-empty cruise might sound cool to some, cruise lines will not let this happen.
Often, they’ll lower prices to the point of practically giving tickets away. If they didn’t fill these cabins, they’d be losing some major bucks. A lot of the food will go wasted, the crew will be paid the same for doing less work, and a lot of the expensive activities will still need to be paid for. A half-filled cruise is a nightmare of cruise lines.
22. Unpleasant Emergencies
Don’t despair if you have a health scare while on a ship: when it comes to emergencies on board, cruise ship staff come quite prepared. Not only do they usually have an amazing doctor on board, but also EMTs and other medical workers. However, there are some emergencies that are beyond even their help.
Some years ago, a Carnival Cruise ship caught on fire. While the blaze was put out before anything catastrophic like sinking could happen, the ship was left without electricity for days and was stranded out at sea. To make matters even worse, the sewage tank began to overflow. Talk about being on an unpleasant cruise.
23. Great For Dieting
If you’re trying to shed some pounds, taking a job on a cruise ship might be just what you’re looking for. Not only can the work be very active and fast-paced, but you’ll also be eating very small meals. While the passengers are dining on dream dinners, you’ll be in the crew café, eating rice.
Keeping in mind that you’re eating scraps, crew dinners will be especially lean at times and you won’t always have a choice as to what to eat. While this might be a deal-breaker for some people, others will like that the temptation to overindulge isn’t always an option.
24. Comment Cards Mean The World
Let’s face it, you aren’t going to go to the local Denny’s and then fill out a comment card after being served by your waiter. If you were even given a comment card, you’d likely just toss it to the side as something that isn’t very important.
On a cruise line, comment cards are on a whole other sphere of importance. Employees depend on these comment cards to get them bonuses. If you leave a waiter a bad comment, it can mean a lower paycheck going back to their families. By simply saying something nice, you can be significantly changing someone’s day for the better.
25. Rogue Waves and Other Dangers
Cruise ship staffers are trained to handle almost every disaster that comes their way. They know all the right words to say that’ll keep a guest calm in the event of an emergency, and how to assist in guiding them along to a safer part of the ship.
That said, Mother Nature is unpredictable and knows no mercy. There are some emergencies that will catch cruise ship workers completely off guard. One of the biggest monsters at sea is the rogue wave. This beast of a wave can cause a ship a lot of damage and even sink it. Before going out on that cruise ship, be aware that some things are just left to luck.
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