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  1. #1

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    Has anybody worked on a cruise ship?

    A few months ago I randomly sent my resume to a luxury cruise line as they had an opening for an on-board publisher / graphic artist.

    A few minutes ago I got an email from their HR person inviting me to interview for the position. They offer a 5-month contract followed by a 2-month vacation period prior to possible contract renewal/extension.

    Has anybody worked on a cruise ships? If yes, how was it, how did you like it?

    Also, what are the questions I should make sure to ask during the interview?

    All advice greatly appreciated. Thanks.
    "First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, and then you win." - Mahatma Gandhi

  2. #2

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    I have not but I have always heard horror stories about NO time off and very cramped living quarters. Be careful and get all the details about where you will stay and exactly how much you will be working while on the cruise. Also, what are you allowed to do on your time off, if you have any? You don't want to be told that you cant blend in with the vacationers, what else would you do, stay in your room?
    -Brian
    "Michelle would never be caught with sausage grease staining her Vera Wang." - rfisher

  3. #3
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    What a random place to need a graphic designer! My cousin worked on a cruise ship when he played in a band. He liked the experience. BigB08822's questions are exactly what I'd ask, too.

  4. #4

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    A friend of my daughter's is just finishing up her second season working as a massage therapist on a cruise ship. She loved it! She was extremely busy but, judging by her Facebook, she did get time off to enjoy the places she travelled to.
    Haunting the Princess of Pink since 20/07/11...

  5. #5

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    My cousin is the pursor on a cruise ship, and several of my husband's and my friends are entertainers on cruise ships. My cousin has been doing this for DECADES. He absolutely adores it. The entertainers we know tend to do it for a couple of years, then come back to NYC.

    Ask tons of questions, but IMO, definately talk to them.
    Use Yah Blinkah!

  6. #6

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    I worked for Royal Caribbean as part of the "Wave Review" cast (singer/dancer).
    Pros for working on a cruise ship are:
    You see the world
    you can save oodles of money as you don't pay for rent/electricity/food.
    You meet some incredible people, (then after 7 days you meet another lot of incredible people).

    Negatives are:
    Your life virtually gets put on hold. All family and friends back home go on as normal but you've been removed from it. You notice it more when you get back home, rather s strange feeling.
    The rules onboard a ship (everyone always complained about them but they never really bothered me. Things like "If a passenger wants a seat at the bar and you have a seat, you must give it up to them". Which to me is logical as they've paid to sit there.
    Sharing a cabin was the worst part. I got put with a 65 year old musician my first cruise which really freaked me out as the cabins are so tiny. Turned out okay, we both got along with nearly everyone so there was no drama. Had either one of us been a drama queen it could have been really ugly though.

    Bottom line, it was an amazing adventure. I did it for a couple of years and that was enough. The good part of the short contract is that if you don't like it it's not like a major sacrifice. Feel free to ask anything else.
    I guess the hard thing for a lot of people to accept is why God would allow me to go running through their yards, yelling and spinning around.


  7. #7

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    I worked for Royal Caribbean as part of the "Wave Review" cast (singer/dancer).
    Pros for working on a cruise ship are:
    You see the world
    you can save oodles of money as you don't pay for rent/electricity/food.
    You meet some incredible people, (then after 7 days you meet another lot of incredible people).

    Negatives are:
    Your life virtually gets put on hold. All family and friends back home go on as normal but you've been removed from it. You notice it more when you get back home, rather s strange feeling.
    The rules onboard a ship (everyone always complained about them but they never really bothered me. Things like "If a passenger wants a seat at the bar and you have a seat, you must give it up to them". Which to me is logical as they've paid to sit there.
    Sharing a cabin was the worst part. I got put with a 65 year old musician my first cruise which really freaked me out as the cabins are so tiny. Turned out okay, we both got along with nearly everyone so there was no drama. Had either one of us been a drama queen it could have been really ugly though.

    Bottom line, it was an amazing adventure. I did it for a couple of years and that was enough. The good part of the short contract is that if you don't like it it's not like a major sacrifice. Feel free to ask anything else.
    Generally the only people that work the ridiculously stupid hours are the wait staff. You are generally not permitted to fraternize with the guests (pax) but that is depending on how strict the captain and cruise director are. You are not allowed in guests rooms and you are not allowed to swim in the pools if there are a certain number of guests in there.
    I guess the hard thing for a lot of people to accept is why God would allow me to go running through their yards, yelling and spinning around.


  8. #8

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    My cousin did the cruise ships in the late 1980s/early 1990s (musician) Cramped living quarters, and very difficult to change roommates. He was fairly flexible and got along with the various roommates.

    He once said, "when you are crew, you are crew. If stuff needs to be loaded and unloaded on the ship, everyone is crew and pitches in"
    "Me, cutie/chicken, the egg cup, I am the hammer of my spoon!"--Jen_Faith translation

  9. #9
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    I agree with what lots of people said so far. I went on a cruise last year and got to learn a couple of things:
    - living quarters for staff are extremely small (smaller than guest cabins) and are near the bottom of the ship
    - certain staff members (spa staff and performers) had better rooms higher on the ship and were allowed to use the gym
    - in no way were the staff members to hang out in public areas
    - when at port at Ocho Rios I got to hang out with some lots of staff members at Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville and all of the younger staff members were all about getting drunk and getting laid
    - staff members said that they worked 7 days straight and got a couple of days off. You are lucky if your day off happens to be on a port day.
    - once your contract is up the cruise line pays for your ticket home
    - when I was at the spa the esthetician said that there was lots of drama on the cruiseship because there is nowhere for the staff members to go on their days off and there were lots of cliques
    - I got to know a 'graphic designer' and he was from Vancouver. He was in charge of making the videos and the photos that were taken on board. He said that he was a 'glorified photo shop sales rep' but he did like what he did.
    - Most of the staff were from Europe or South America, and some from the Philippines
    - The guy who was in charge of the excursions was Canadian, and he said that he was doing it for about eight years and he loved it (I think that this position was better paid than most of the other positions)

  10. #10

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    Some good points venja. As a performer we worked 8 hours a week and that was it. If you wanted additional work you could work on the shore excursion desk, but you got paid extra (minimal though). You did however get to do the excursions sometimes, which were pretty neat. Apparently they now breathalyze staff when they get back on the ships from being in port. Being over the limit (not sure what their limit is) means a written warning. Three written warnings and you're fired. Thank goodness they didn't do that when I was working on them.
    I guess the hard thing for a lot of people to accept is why God would allow me to go running through their yards, yelling and spinning around.


  11. #11
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    Megi -- you will want to ask if you will be considered "crew", "staff" or given "officer status". Each tier has different levels of privileges. I imagine graphic designer will be staff.

    I worked as an entertainer for NCL and Cunard, and a vocal director for RCI (do I know you Ozzisk8tr?). On all three lines staff were allowed to be in almost all public areas, socialize with passengers in public areas ONLY, and also enjoyed nice staff mess/bar/recreation decks. Officer mess/bar etc. was better. Crew...not so much. It sounds like you would be staff...cruise staff (working for cruise director), probably.

    You may be able to negotiate your own cabin if the job is management or you have any special health needs. That was the biggest drawback of the job to me -- I negotiated private staff quarters in all but one of my contracts. You get used to the small space - after a week or so it seems normal to you and learn to be very creative as you "move in".

    Staff (on my contracts) were allowed to be in the pool areas but not right AT the pool. And not in the pool.

    Photog staff (if that's where you would fall) worked HARD -- but generally seemed to be having a ball. You will want to ask if you will depend on commission for a portion of your pay.

    If you are single and have no pressing need to stay close to home, I highly recommend it. I saw the world for free, made some incredible memories, and love cruising to this day.

  12. #12

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    Thanks for sharing your experiences, guys. I've noted down all the suggested questions. By the looks of it, I will be interviewing THEM.

    Judging by the job description, it has nothing to do with photos or videos - it includes editing crew and passenger on-board newsletters and other literature.
    "First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, and then you win." - Mahatma Gandhi

  13. #13
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    The last cruise I was on "crew" included waiters/waitresses and they were not allowed in public places and they bunked in dorm style rooms with bunk beds about 8 people to a room, which resembled a maintenance or storage room. The entertainers were allowed to mingle in public places and had cramped cabins but just 2 to a room. I had 2 friends working on the boat and I could hang out with one (a dancer) but not the other (a waiter) until we got off at port. (Except that there were some cute young Italian waiters so the dancer and I snuck drinks down to the wait crew dorm rooms - hee). We had to hide under the bunks when the boss came through.
    I think I will have a snack and take a nap before I eat and go to sleep.

  14. #14

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    Yes.

    Interesting experience, but glad it was over in a couple of months (I was fired halway through the winter season, put on an airplane the next day).

    PM me for details.


    Certainly got the travel bug out of my system, that's for sure.

  15. #15

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    The author of this book is a major douchebag, but he does give great insight into working life on the big cruise liners. I found him insufferable, but I enjoyed his book - most of it. His name is David Allan Bruns, and he also has a blog, where his prickosity goes unchecked.

    I enjoyed this one as well, but the cruise industry did NOT!

    I've been on three cruises, and I enjoyed talking to the bartenders the most. Of course, I schmoozed them to get stronger drinks than the dishwater they served everyone else . The waitstaff seemed the most harried and stressed. On my Carnival cruise, one of the waiters told me if you are Eastern European, it's easier to get one of the better jobs in the dining rooms and galleys. Caribbean islanders make up the deck department, and Asians in the housekeeping department. This was on the Carnival Victory, so YMMV.

    There is a surfeit of online articles, anecdotes and blogs that talk about working and living onboard these ships. I'm sure you will find some answers that you are comfortable with. Good luck!

  16. #16
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    i haven't worked on a cruise ship but had friends who did. Apparently there's a hierarchy for the crew. One friend was a musician and he loved it because he didn't have to work too many hours. He said the only people who worked less were the singers. I imagine as a non-service employee you will probably have a better time than say a houskeeper or waiter.

  17. #17

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    Been on a number of cruises; but never worked on one. Is your position one that receives tips, or is your compensation fully paid by the cruiseline? Is your position one where you are allowed to spend your recreation time in passenger areas, or not? Are your meals to be taken in crew dining or may you use the passenger buffets, for example. What additional duties might be assigned? (Many of the people we've met have had additional duties, particularly the entertainers -- running the library,...)

    The other thing you should know is that if your ship gets Noro Virus and goes to Code Red status, pretty much every staff member on the ship is assigned additional work -- wiping down railings, cleaning tables, dispensing salt & pepper so that passengers never touch the containers,...days off get canceled, and when I mean pretty much everybody that even included entertainers. Luckily it doesn't happen too often, but when it does it is kind of ugly.

    I think it would be a great experience for a half a year -- you'd pack a lot of living in. I hope you can tell us the line and the ship if you get the job.

    Good luck!

  18. #18

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    Those books look like great reads, Rex, thanks! I just ordered the Bruns one through my library on line. I have never taken a cruise or intend to work for one, but I find the whole subject fascinating. And the only reason I've never taken a cruise is I'm afraid I would gain about 1,000 pounds and become an alcoholic! Lead me not to temptation!

  19. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bonita View Post
    Those books look like great reads, Rex, thanks! I just ordered the Bruns one through my library on line. I have never taken a cruise or intend to work for one, but I find the whole subject fascinating. And the only reason I've never taken a cruise is I'm afraid I would gain about 1,000 pounds and become an alcoholic! Lead me not to temptation!
    Once you get past Bruns' congenital douchebaggery, it's a pretty interesting book.

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