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Amongst the many benefits and perks of being a Cruise Ship crew member, aside from traveling around the world, moving ahead in one’s career at a fast pace, and (my favorite) the advantages of currency exchange, there are a few extra things crew members can access that make working onboard an even sweeter deal.
Internet – We all know how slow and expensive internet onboard can be. Well, it’s equally slow for crew members, but at least it’s a lot less expensive. By connecting to a hidden crew network, employees have access to Crew Plans, which can be based on minutes or MBs. In case you’re wondering, a 250-minute package goes for $20. Also, since the pandemic, Crew Members have had access to messaging apps without having to use minute- or MB-packages. There was talk of it being taken away, but so far it’s still there, and it doesn’t look like it will stop.
Gift Shop – Beyond the duty-free prices, crew members enjoy an extra 15% discount on most items in the Gift Shops onboard. And you wouldn’t believe what good customers Crew Members are! A few times I’ve known of Gift Shops reaching their voyage sales targets entirely thanks to purchases from the employees onboard. This may be partly because, unlike regular guests, Crew Members can be “urged” to buy when it matters the most!
Excursions – There are a few ways a Crew Member can take part in the Shore Excursions the ship offers in each port. Depending on the itinerary, and the management on that particular ship, there is what is called an “Escort Program”, whereby an employee will be assigned to a tour with the purpose of reporting back about that particular tour, making sure it was conducted the exact way the Tour Operator claims it is done. This, of course, allows the Crew Member to enjoy the experience, free of charge, but with a certain level of responsibility.
Then, there is the actual “comp” ticket, which is an agreement the Shore Excursion department has with the Tour Operators in order to allow one or two spots to join for free. Not all tours are part of this feature, and it is entirely based on availability, but it allows the employee to enjoy the tour just like any guest would.
Finally, there’s the global Crew Discount, a 15% discount applied to the regular price of the tour, which, again, will be based upon availability, as fully paying guests will always come first.
Beverages – You’d think Cruise Lines would want their workers to stay sober at all times, and even discourage them from drinking at all, but there is some truth to the saying “happy crew, happy guests”. And, while overdoing it can get you fired very easily, alcoholic beverages, as well as specialty coffees from Starbucks, are subject to a 50% discount. Similar coffees are available free of charge at the different crew restaurants, and alcoholic beverages sold at the Crew Bar are sold at a miniscule price! Surprisingly, Specialty Dining is not part of any employee discount, so Crew Members pay just as much as guests, if not more! Due to the lack of a Crew Dining Package.
Cruises! – While less common, there are also a few ways Crew Members can enjoy cruising while on vacation. If a Crew Member is entitled to a single occupancy cabin, they are allowed to comp fellow Crew Members or Family members. In theory, they would be occupying the same cabin, however, in most cases they can be given a guest cabin for comfort, as long as one is available.
Another way to cruise is through the “Crew Vacation Program”, which allows employees to cruise almost for free. The only downside is taking the risk of not being able to board if the ship is sailing at full capacity. The risk is low, but having paid for flights and other arrangements, it would not be pleasant if it happens to be a particularly well-sold cruise!
Finally, there’s the “Friends and Family” program, with similar risks, but at a lower chance of happening, as rooms are guaranteed as we get close to the sailing date. This normally represents a 15% savings over the base fare. Not bad! – ThatGuy (OnBoard)
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