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And we’re back! As promised, here’s a few more things you may not have known about life as a crew member on your favorite cruise ship. Enjoy!
As discussed in our part 1 (if you haven’t read it yet, head here to catch up) crew members share a cabin amongst up to 4 people. Something I left out was that most of the time crew will be grouped with others in opposite schedules as much as is feasible, so as to allow them some much needed alone time whenever possible but not necessarily with people in their same positions or departments. This matters when you think about how crowded cruise ships are by design. Of course, crew cabins are gender-sensitive.
- How do we tune out the noise when we’re trying to sleep and one of our roommates is getting ready for their shift or worse, snoring? As your crew we have to always be prepared for an emergency, which means being able to hear emergency announcements. That means we cannot enjoy the simple pleasure of listening to music with both ear pods or trying to find quiet with 2 earplugs to sleep!
- While in the real world people from different nationalities may have more than enough reasons to dislike each other, crew members are excellent at letting those differences go and concentrate on working with each other peacefully and with a common goal. In my many years as a crew member, I have never encountered any case when a co-worker was disciplined (or all the way dismissed) because of arguments involving their nationalities. I wish I could say the same regarding spouses, but I guess that would be too good to be true. I mean, we’re crew members, not angels after all! A clear example is one I am currently observing on the ship I am on: Russian and Ukrainian musicians working together and getting along perfectly to entertain the audiences. Funny how music itself can be so poetic.
- Certain positions on board (AKA, officers of some kind) are allowed to eat at the same restaurants as guests and you will sometimes see a group of officers enjoying the same exquisite meals you do onboard. Crew still have to pay for the Specialty Restaurants, although not always the same price as guests. However, most of the time we simply choose to eat “downstairs” at our crew buffet-style restaurant, mostly because of the convenience. Ordering food in one of the restaurants can take up to 2 hours, while a meal at the crew mess would hardly take longer than 30 minutes and our breaks are not very long.
- Did you know many of your crew are capable barbers? While you have likely seen a barbershop or salon services onboard, the crew often give each other haircuts in order to look ship shape as well as conserve their limited funds during their long contracts.
- When crew members go ashore in port, you will most likely find them at the nearest supermarket or wifi-enabled restaurant. It’s not too common for crew members to go sightseeing, and much less take part of the shore excursions, although a few of them might and some ships offers crew only excursions. Since we are in the same port on a regular basis, the novelty of visiting the main sights wears off quite quickly, and we do get a bit jaded. There are, of course, always those who love to be eternal explorers and I count myself as one of them.
- Crew members often met their significant other on board, and that sometimes leads to crew married couples. After a crew member marries another, they fill out the necessary paperwork and the cruise line will do their best to accommodate employment on the same ship – mind you, not always – as business and staffing needs come first. If a lucky couple works on the same ship, and at least one of them is entitled to a single cabin, there will be no problem. If both of them are entitled to a shared cabin, they might have to share it with a different set of co-workers each (yes, a bit awkward). Similarly, if a couple works in the same department, and one of them is promoted to a managerial position, that might very well result in one of them being sent to a different ship, so as to avoid any appearance of conflict in the workplace. I remember knowing a wonderful lady who was more than capable of performing at a higher position, but due to her husband working in the same department, they chose to stay at the same level and give up on promotions, which allowed them to almost always be on the same ship. I think that’s a wonderful trade-off. Don’t you?
The culture onboard, that is, living for much of the year packed onboard a floating hotel, is unique. We choose this life but keep in mind the many sacrifices we make to make sure your next cruise vacation is an amazing one! – ThatGuy (onboard)
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I always like talking to crew members about their favorite ports. We almost never agree as the things the crew members tell me they prioritize are: great/free WiFi in or around the cruise terminal, nearby grocery or convenience stores, great exchange rate (we always agree on this one), proximity to town, and large ports with lots of ships in port at the same time. As stated in the article very few crew get to participate in the shore excursions apart from some of the experiences/excursions team. We had an excursion from St Petersburg to Moscow a number of years back and the ship sent members of the retail team to go with us to help keep an eye on all of us and uniquely to also pick up some crafts to be sold aboard the ship. They were dressed in street clothes and it took a number of people in our group the entire 12+ hour day to figure out they weren’t fellow passengers. I knew immediately because they were both young and polite (sorry fellow RSSC pax). The best part of the story is that the couple from the retail team are now married and we’ve seen them on other cruises working together.