In my last post, I gave you my Top Five Reasons for Working on a Cruise Ship. I’ve had six very interesting years exploring the world on someone else’s dime and definitely seeing places I might not have chosen on my own.
But it’s not for everyone. So as promised, here are my five top reasons NOT to work on a cruise ship because every job has its benefits but it also has its unique challenges.
I’ve worked with some wonderful people. But, as in any business, the cruise ship industry has its share of losers. The ships can become small fiefdoms with Hotel Directors, Captains and Chiefs the supreme ruler. It can be a place rife with bureaucracy and a privileged class. Officers with rank can abuse the power and be mean hearted or exclusive. On most ships there are separate areas for different ranks for recreation (crew/petty officers/officers) such as bars and dining halls. If you are a low ranking crew member you might not have access to certain public areas or you may be denied the freedom you would have at home to have an alcoholic beverage. There are cabin inspections and grooming rules. Many companies have rules, but on a cruise ship they define not just your 9-5 but your entire lifestyle for the duration of your time on board (there’s no “escape from the office). The smaller the cruise ship, generally the less of this you will find. This is one reason I have always worked on more intimate ships where crew consider themselves more of a family.
On duty Even When you are Not
Depending on your position you may or may not have defined hours of work. In my work, I don’t have too many set hours but put in the time necessary to complete the work that’s expected of me. For some crew members, they have definite work hours, usually around 10 hours a day. However, even when you are not working you are. On a cruise ship you are never more than a phone call or radio call away if something comes up. But more than this, you have to remember that at all times in public areas you represent the line. Outside of crew areas you must always be properly dressed and “on”. If you the kind of person who wants to have a bad day and stay hidden below decks, think twice about this job. You have to always be able to smile no matter how bad your day is or even if you are “off duty” a guest can, and will, demand of you at any time.
As the Propeller Turns
Cruise ships are gossip mills, there is no doubt or no denying this. If you don’t want anyone knowing your business, don’t do it. You can’t hide anything. If you have skeletons in your closet, stay at home. There are plenty of ways to get yourself in trouble on a cruise ship. If you are a single women expect to be hit on a lot. If that’s what you are looking for then maybe this IS the place for you but if you “get around” so will your reputation. All the years I have worked on cruise ships I have been married but trust me, even that doesn’t stop many men, be it guest or crew, from trying. It’s difficult not to get caught up in the gossip mill. Remember that the ship is your home for a length of time. This means not only is it your place of employment but it is also your social and entertainment home. Think twice about what you do and who you do it with.
The Things Back Home
I’m referring here to what you leave behind. First, family and friends. You will be leaving them for extended periods. Friends will continue their lives without you and you might find that in time your friends move on without you. This can be very difficult for some people. You will also be away from your family for months at a time. You will not be able to pop home for a wedding or family reunion. If there is a death in the family you can usually leave for a small amount of time and at your own expense. My mother once commented to me that as she flipped through the scrapbooks of our family events, she noticed how many photos I wasn’t in. If you need to call your best friend or your mother every day, this is not the job for you. As well, if you are someone who needs the freedom to drive your car, head out to the movies or if you must get to the opera twice a month, consider a different form of employment. The ship WILL become your life and WILL consume you.
Addiction to the Lifestyle
Adventure jobs, including cruise ships, can provide a very addicting lifestyle. You can take this as a good or a bad thing. Ship life gets in your blood even with all of its gossip, fiefdoms, and 15 hour work days. Often, people go home for vacation and simply can’t see anything else that is as exciting as having their home move around the world every day and the 24/7 hustle of a city on the water. There is always something going on. So many times, I hear, “I’m never coming back”. Then a few months later, any bad memories fade and you start to wonder what your friends on board are doing or what port they are in today and you long to be a part of that again. I have some dear friends I worked with on ships in 1994. On four separate occasions we had going away parties for them and four times they returned to the ships. Now they have given up any idea of ever leaving and today they are still sailing around the world.
If you have a skill that is needed on a cruise ship, take a hard look at the kind of person you are and if you have the temperament for this lifestyle. Consider these ten reasons I have given you in my last two posts, both the good and the bad. And if you need more reasons, let me know…I’m always happy to help.
To Your Adventures!