5 Things You Should Know About Cruises from a Former Crew Member - Cruises for Food-Lovers

5 Things You Should Know About Cruises from a Former Crew Member - Cruises for Food-Lovers
From The Kitchn - September 17, 2017

Have you ever been on a cruise? Perhaps your first time was on a Caribbean cruise line with thousands of passengers soaking up the sun and sipping on frosty beverages. Or maybe you opted for a smaller, more intimate experience on a river cruise ship. While I have enjoyed both (and many more in between, including a Disney Cruise, which was actually awesome), my initial foray into cruise life was as a crew member.

After university I worked as youth staff on a large-scale cruise ship. I learned to work long hours, relished in the joys of time off in tropical locales like St. Maarten and the Bahamas, and saw every stripe of life at sea. Since I'd never been on a cruise as a passenger, my first experience aboard a ship was an eye-opening introduction to working, living, and playing in a floating palace where you never actually leave your work.

This Is What It's Really Like to Work on a Cruise Line

Passengers see crystal chandeliers, high-thread-count linens, and polished wood, but below deck, there are no Frette linens or plush carpets; the crew quarters are utilitarian. On most big ships you will find a small gym for working out, a basic plunge pool and sun deck for time off, various cafeterias serving a basic-yet-international menu for staff based on rank, and bunk-style rooms for sleeping.

There's no nine-to-five job on a cruise ship, nor is there really a place to officially clock out (unless you are between contracts on leave from the ship). Because every crew role is created for passenger enjoyment and safety, long hours are the normespecially for positions such as room stewards or dining room servers.

While it was rare for my job to have a full 24 hours off, I did get a block of time off every day, and if that time coincided with a tropical port of call, it was heavenly (and really nice to get off the ship). When my time off landed on an embarkation day, I'd do errands to pick up basic necessities such as deodorant or my favorite brand of conditioner.

I was also able to partake in a limited version of passenger life in my non-work hours attending shows, noshing at the midnight buffet, and visiting the night clubs, although indulging in these perks was rare, as sleep took priority!

5 Cruising Tips from a Former Crew Member

As it turned out, wearing a uniform at seashorts and pressed shirt by day, suit and high heels at night, in case you are wondering!left me wanting more of the cruise life, and eventually I did an about-face from staff to passenger. Since my stint working at sea, I have cruised on a number of different ships and cruise lines with my husband and children.

Having had the opportunity to dip my feet into life above and below deck, here are a few insights I picked up while working on a major cruise line.

1. Comments count.

Passenger comments count a lot. Because cruising is all about congeniality and catering to the guest, cruise lines look to guest comments, in part, to determine a crew member's fate. In order to see the good ones keep your boat afloat, take a moment to write a comment card about a crew member who gives you exceptional service.

2. Do not splurge on the fancy stateroom.

3. You probably wo not get seasick.

4. Go where other people are not.

5. Think of the menu as a guideline.


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