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Cruise Ship Jobs

Thu Oct 07, 2004 3:27 am

Has anyone here ever had a cruise ship job. I'm looking into doing it and i want to hear what its like from someone who I know really exsists. Well i hope to see some replies.
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RE: Cruise Ship Jobs

Thu Oct 07, 2004 4:12 am

The pay sucks--I guarantee it. And the hours are very long.
And you share accomodations almost bunkhouse style on most the ships (the newest usually have two berth cabins with shared facilities.

I've never worked on one....just on behalf of about every line at one point or another. I revised a contract for a large Carribean line for some Croatians joining the ship----and was shocked at what they were going to pay them....(waitstaff and cabin staff).

Officers are totally different...and make a very solid living. But are professional mariners or engineers.
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RE: Cruise Ship Jobs

Thu Oct 07, 2004 4:19 am

Knowing two friends who have worked on cruise ships, you do NOT want a job that involves being part of the wait staff or as a cabin steward. As Greg said, they're worked long hours for little pay - and while the tips are good, most people would not want this sort of job.

If you're intent on working aboard ship, the jobs to have are with the actual activities staff, particularly as a deejay - the hours aren't bad, and you get to have fun with both the staff and the customers.

Arguably the best overall job would be working in the gift shops - you only work while the ship is at sea, as the stores must remain closed in port. Even then, the hours aren't anywhere near as long as those of the other crew or staff members.
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RE: Cruise Ship Jobs

Thu Oct 07, 2004 5:43 am

I had a great chat w/a DJ on a cruise ship a few years back, and he pretty much said what's been posted here, already. I would think the only thing that would make being on the wait staff or some labor job gig would be the folks that you'd meet, and the different culture's you could learn about.

On a cruise a few years back, I noticed how the crew seemed to breakdown on the ship. The officers were mostly western European. The entertainment staff was British, the waiters were a mix of eastern European, or Carribean/S.American. The only American I ever met working on a cruise was the DJ mentioned above. I never got a chance to really talk to the housekeeping staff or other members of the crew, as they never seemed to stand still long enough to talk, so I'd wager those folks earn every cent they make, working long hours.
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RE: Cruise Ship Jobs

Thu Oct 07, 2004 7:19 am

My friend went to work on one last year in the Caribbean and complained that all she done was work and sleep. What else are you expected to do on a ship?! The pay was lousy as well. She also was told off for not being presented well enough.
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RE: Cruise Ship Jobs

Thu Oct 07, 2004 7:55 am

I was asked to interview with a large cruise company, to be a sous chef for one of their boats and oversee a kitchen on board. I impressed them, and we had several meetings. The pay for my part was actually, going to be pretty decent. The larger ships do have crew decks, with bars and exercise rooms and parties, but you do put in 12 hour days (nothing new for a cook, but for a waiter that's unheard of). I was thinking a couple months at sea, board is paid for, just work and earn some money, but I talked to a couple guys that had done it before me. First I found out, that I would have no input or say on my staff. To be hired for the other jobs, you usually have to be a citizen of the flag of the ship, in this case Panama. Nothing against Panama, some of my best cooks have come from Central America, but I was concerned, because I like to hand pick my crew, mostly based on experience and work ethic, and I also like the ability to dismiss anyone on the spot, can't really do that at sea if you have a problem. I passed on the job, this kid I went to school with took it, was unhappy, but he had signed a year contract, so he was kinda screwed. Just my two cents.
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RE: Cruise Ship Jobs

Thu Oct 07, 2004 8:15 am

It 'could' be an interesting way of living for a year or so.. Depends on what you expect or want.. I know now in the US, there's a cruise ship based in Honolulu, the "Spirit of Aloha" from NCL Norweigian Lines which is required to have an all US crew. It just started operating a few months ago, and already there've been complaints about the service on board. Apparently many American's aren't used to working 7 days a week for 3 months on and one month off, plus perhaps the work ethic mgiht be different when they're used to 8 hr days 2 breaks and an hour lunch/dinner break in a normal environment. Who knows.

Anyway, if one could deal with that, I couldn't see why one wouldn't want to at least give it a try. Work 3 months, get one month off paid, go travel for that month. You dont have to spend anything on board while you're working. Room and meals are paid for, just save your 3 months pay and see the world for a month. Do that 4 x a year. What's so bad about that?
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RE: Cruise Ship Jobs

Thu Oct 07, 2004 9:11 am

The Spirit of Aloha is a US flagged ship with a US crew, the problem is both the staff and the level of service they deliver. Also the staff is unionized so for the officers of the ship that is a whole different can of worms to get use to.
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RE: Cruise Ship Jobs

Thu Oct 07, 2004 9:21 am

The Spirit of Aloha, is now called The Pride of Aloha. And it has to be a US flagged ship since it makes no stops in non-US countries. As such it's subject to US Merchant Marine rules.

One wonders how they are able to earn a profit on that line without charging sky high prices, since the Merchant Marine rules brings red tape galore. It's actually cheaper to fly many items between states than it is to ship them.
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RE: Cruise Ship Jobs

Thu Oct 07, 2004 11:32 am

My mistake, Spirit of Aloha= Pride of Aloha. There's another ship coming soon and I believe (correct me if Im wrong) eventually there will be 3 or 4 sailing between the islands).

I remember reading that certain rules were bent to allow it to operate within the islands only as it used to have to veer down and make a required stop in Fanning Island in Kirabati since it was foreign flagged. Rules were changed to allow it to fly under a US flag and operate within the Hawaiian islands only provided it sailed with a US crew (waiters, workers etc.) (again , correct me if I'm wrong). Not sure, but there was another vessel that sailed between the islands that no longer does.
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RE: Cruise Ship Jobs

Thu Oct 07, 2004 12:03 pm

I used to be a Check-In Agent for Norwegian Cruise Line and Cunard Cruises so I got to talk alot with the crew members about their jobs and there are many mixed responses.

The situation is a little different depending on your rank group,
-Officers (Captain, Purser, Hotel Director and F/O Manager)
-Staff (Gift Shop, Front Desk Agent, DJ, Dancers)
-Crew (Waiter, Steward, Engine Room)

First realize that there is a VERY GOOD reason why the good majority of the crew members on cruise ships are from Eastern Europe, Latin America, and SouthEast Asia (Mostly the Phillipines). THE PAY SUCKS and dont do justice for all the work involved. They dont mind working hard for very little (Some of them are paid less than $1000 a month, I know a waiter who only earns $500 a month). And yeah you pick up a little more on tips but that all depends on the passengers your dealing with (Canadians and British people are the worst tippers in the world and dont have a clue how hard these people work to make their holidays perfect).

And your out at sea for long periods of time. Try 10 or 11 months at sea with only one month off and contrary to popular belief, you dont get paid for your off-month(s). Also there is no such things as weekends, you basically work 12 hour shifts every day of the week, you do get time of every now and then while the ship is at a port of call to do what you want including sightseeing the ports. They alternate who goes when.

Working on a cruise is alot of hard work, you do get to travel and see new places and meet and work with a diverse group of people, and you do save money by having your room, food, insurance, and board paid for. Its something I would consider doing but not on a long term basis, 5 to 8 is more than enough.
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RE: Cruise Ship Jobs

Thu Oct 07, 2004 5:59 pm

Hi there,

Here’s an member who actualy did work on Cruise-ships!!

I’ll keep it short now as I’m at work...

First off, there is a very big difference in ships/companies. Those who do alot of (or only) Caibbean/Alaska, like Carnival, Royal Caribbean Cruise line have mostly crew from the low-wage counties (Philipines, Indonesia, Eastern Europe)
They work 12 hours/day minimum for minimum wages, and need to top up their wages with tips.

The way to go is the luxury cruise lines such as Seabourn, Chrystal and Silversea.

I worked for both Silversea and Seabourn as waiter and Room Service waiter. Waitingstaff there are not dependant on tips for income. Salary is fixed. I made around $ 1400 net per month. Tax free of course and no further expenses for insurances, housing board etc.

Work: 3 times a day, breaks between breakfast/lunch/dinner.

Sometimes stayed overnight in the larger cities (SIN, NY, HK, LON etc)

Flights to and from ship paid for.

Did manage to see quite a lot of the world.

I’ll post some more later. If more questions pls reply.


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RE: Cruise Ship Jobs

Fri Oct 08, 2004 9:48 am

I had a room mate who once who worked as musician on a low budget ship in the Carribean. He had "artisitic differences" with the band leader and was put off the ship in Barbados. Had to find his own way home, him mother had to wire him money.

I just read some cruise reviews on the Pride of Aloha. Yikes. Seems like an incredibly poorly managed operation. I took 3 Hawaiian cruises on the old SS Independence and had wonderful American crews, people who loved their jobs
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RE: Cruise Ship Jobs

Fri Oct 08, 2004 12:44 pm

I have worked on Cunard and Disney. Was a Restaurant staff on both.

Hours are long, pay is not bad (all depends on how well you treat your passengers), and it is a good way to see the world.

The bad thing is that discipline is very strict. People being fired and warned everyday for small things. And of course passenger complaints. These guys complain about everything. They are not happy with their cruise , so let's put it all on our waiter. Waiter is the hardest job on the cruise ship since food is the major factor on a cruise (it is unlimited). Serving hundreds of people on a daily basis, each with their demands, trying to accomodate all their requests...believe me this can get very tiring after 3 months and guess what you still have three months to go until the end of your contract.

In my opinion it is a very good life experience. Just prove yourself that you will be able to survive in this kind of atmosphere. I cannot say that I am an expert in cruise ship life field, but I know a lot about it, because I had one. So if you have any questions feel free to ask.
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RE: Cruise Ship Jobs

Fri Oct 08, 2004 4:36 pm

here's what i had posted a while back, another thread about working on cruise-ships.

I had one of the "tough" jobs. I started as Diningroom Waiter. Having worked in hospitality industry for years already that was the most obvious thing to do when wanting to work on a cruise ship. I was 22 when I first started back in 1995. It was extremely easy to get the job. I wrote application letters to 10 different lines, some didn't answer, another sent a telegram telling me to book a flight to Vancouver and get my ass over there ASAP and let them know when I would be arriving so they could arrange for a pick-up at the airport. I declined that one because I had to pay for the flight myself. It was Silversea ( that wrote me a letter, I called them, they asked me when I was available, I said tomorrow and 1 week later I was on my way to Athens. The company took care of my travel expenses and the pick-up at the airport. A cab took me to the ship and that's when horror started…

I was met by the crew purser, we did the paperwork (medical papers and contract) and told me how to get down to the tailor to get me my uniform. I was then told to go find my cabin, get dressed and go find the Maitre 'd. I felt incredibly lost and lonely, I couldn't find my cabin at first and when I did I found it to be tiny, no window and of course I had to share it with a colleague. There was nobody there to help showing me around the ship, heck, I couldn't even find the dining room!! Anyway, basically we worked with 2 waiters in one station. One station has around 28 seats. My first cruise I worked with a Turkish guy, he was new as well, so he couldn't really teach me the tricks of the trade which made things even more difficult and our station was furthest away from the kitchen so I sweated my balls off!! In the mornings I was stationed to help out in the Room Service dept. which I really liked doing. Somehow you can get more close to pax ( I mean just talking…) and work is more relaxed, less stressy.

For some reason the Maitre d' didn't like me at all, and he gladly transferred me to the room service dept when a position became available there. I had a great time there! Very nice colleagues, better working hours (we only worked 2 times daily, while in dining room one works 3 times a day!!!!!!!)

To give you an idea what a dining room waiter goes through: Start breakfast-shift at 07:00, 07:30 or 08:00 depending whether in port or a day at sea, finish breakfast shift at or around 10:30/10:45. Then you're free till Lunch service. Check in time for that shift is 11:30. Work till 14:30 roughly. Then off again till 18:00 or 18:30 depending on if there would be a Captain's party were we'd have to serve canapé's, caviar etc. You'd be lucky to finish the Dinner service by 10:15 pm. Then it’s off to your cabin or the crew bar to have a couple of drinks and unwind. Usually that time of day were back to sea so can't go anywhere, but if on overnight we'd go out in places like Singapore, Hong Kong, Saigon, Bangkok, London, St. Petersburg (Russia!!) etc.

In room service we'd start at 06:30 till 10 am and off till 14.00 pm and then straight through till 11 pm or 07:00 am till 14.00 pm and from 18.00 pm till 11 pm. Bare in mind this is 7 days a week for 6 months straight!!! You'd be very lucky to get one shift off every 2 months or so…

On Seabourn (200 pax only) we could win a shift off by competitions. We had to learn the names of the pax by heart and also these pax's food/drink preferences. Once a week the Maitre'd would give us a test and the winner would get an evening or lunch shift off…..

As far as getting "close to pax" that was absolutely out of the question!! I remember one waiter who had a history of doing just so, had warnings before but couldn't resist getting somewhat close with a young lady who's father complained about it. He was fired instantly. Unfortunately for him this happened while we were anchored off Devil's Island, off the coast of French Guyana, South America. He was givven an hours time to pack his things and was put on a small boat, brought ashore, where he was transferred to the nearest airport to be flown back home. Of course the cost of this trip is being deducted from your wages. And it ain't cheap flying back to Europe from where we were at that time!!
Travel arrangements though are always taken care of by the crew purser.

Other example: one of my buddies who had a history of getting very obnoxious when having too much to drink and also had warnings for that, when in the port of Saigon, Vietnam went out and returned to the ship late, (there was a curfew by the Vietnam Port Authorities) and got in a near fight with the guards. 2 days later in Bangkok he was ordered to see the captain who told him he was fired. He flew back to Amsterdam that very night.
Now here's my story on how it came about I flew home quite unexpectedly.

It must have been somewhere in July, a day at sea on our way from the Greek isle of Keffalonia to Malta. I had a afternoon room service duty from 2 pm till 10 pm. The weather was really nice so almost all pax were on the outside decks and I was not busy at all. While hanging around waiting for a call I noticed some empty cards that pax fill out in their suite and hang it out on the doorknob at night for their room service breakfast orders. You must know there are 2 ladies working the night shift in room service from 10 pm till 07.00 am who pick up all the orders from the door-knobs and prepare all breakfast trays. I decided to pull a joke on them.

So what I did was I took one of these order cards and faked an order. I can't remember exactly what I ordered, but it was something like 7 omelets, 8 juices 5 fruit plates, 4 orders of bacon, 6 scrambled eggs, 3 oatmeal's etc. etc. indeed a ridiculous amount of food for 2 people. I also wrote down the time of service (I made it 06:30 am) and a suite number with the corresponding name. I put down Mr/Mrs. Bush, suite 610. That was the only name I could associate with a suite number because the Bushes were the largest pains in the ass of that cruise. They had complained about numerous things already and I remember having sent then a free bottle of Champagne from the Hotel Manager as an apology.

I was going to give that order to these 2 ladies when arriving at work at 10 pm who were going to go nuts when seeing it. I would then wait a little and tell then it was only a joke…

It was not to be. At night we got really busy due to a choppy sea (pax will get sick and order room service instead of going to the dining room) and I was in a rush to go see a movie in the crew area which would start at 11 pm. I forgot all about that fake order and never gave it a second thought.

The next morning I had a duty starting at 10 am. I walked up to the room service galley from my cabin and I noticed some strange looks on the faces of colleagues, another one asking me the one question: "was it you who wrote that room service order for 610?" That very second I knew I was going to go home that very day. My legs got really heavy and could hardly make them to walk me over to the room service galey to find out what had really happened. I can't describe how I felt at that time, it was awful. I asked my colleague if the 2 ladies (I can't remember their names) had really, really, really found that fake order and actually prepared all of it and served it to the Bushes at 06:30am ?? Yes, that's exactly what they did…I couldn't believe them to be so stupid to not see it was not a real order and asking me about it, nor could I believe I was so damn stupid to have caused this.

A good 10 minutes later the crew purser (the person that makes flight arrangements etc) came up to me and asked me to come with her to see the Hotel Manager. He was not a happy man. He had that order in front of him along with some other orders, probably to compare handwriting , and asked me bluntly if I had written that order. I acknowledged and explained what had happened. He told me I had caused the breakfast cook to be waken up and start work an hour early in order to prepare and cook all of the food, and the Bushes to be woken at that time of day, who then must have gotten really pissed off, and all that waste of food etc etc. He then said: "You realize you are going home today, right?!"

I was then joined by the Hotel Manager and the crew purser to go see the captain to whom I had to tell the same story. Hotel manager then told the crew purser: "you go and book him a flight', to me he said:"you go pack your things". That was the last time I saw him. I had 2 hours to get packed, clean up, and say my good-byes to everybody. At 1 pm a car was waiting for me at the dock, and drove me to a hotel as there were no more available flights to Amsterdam that day. I was given my remaining salary and actually felt very relieved as was free at last…

At 6 pm that evening I watched the "SilverWind" sail away. I felt kinda sad, having to leave so many people I'd spend lots of good times with, knowing I would never see them again.

Well, that kinda is what life onboard can be like, but it's a good way to get to see the world, get some work experience, make some mony (I say some, you won't get rich: I made average $ 2300 a month nett. No taxes, no rent, no insurance, all is being taken care of by the company. All you pay is your flight back home when finishing the contract. That money you get refunded when returning for another contract. No tips allowed on both Seabourn and Silversea. Accepting tips can result in getting fired(…)

So what was it like, working on a ship? Tough, educative, fun! did I see a lot of the world? Yes, if you consider I was paid for it, but there just isn't enough time in between shifts. It's good for getting impressions of certain cities, countries or islands, so I know where I want to go back to and where not.
I'll never forget New York, Key West, The Amazon river, The Ancient site of Petra in Jordan where I was very lucky to have won the shift of that day so I had time to go while docked in Aqaba, Jordan. Also the beaches in the Caribbean, the Seychelles and Maldives. In Hong Kong I went to the parking deck at Kai Tak and watched the awesome approaches. I got fed up with St. Tropez and Venice, Italy, having been there around 8 times. I won't forget the poor sites in Africa: Djibouti, Mombasa. And I could go on and on. Would I do it again? Yes, in a next life maybe, but I think you should be very single to do this kind of work. I'm married now…

If any more questions pls let me know. Hope you enjoyed my little story…

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RE: Cruise Ship Jobs

Sat Oct 09, 2004 6:41 am

Thanks KLM-MD11

That was a very interesting little story. Having been on several cruises, I have always wondered what life was like on the other side.

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