Behind-the-Scenes Secrets of Cruise Ship Workers

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Imagine you have saved up money all year round for the much-awaited vacation. You’re dreaming of a place where the sun will shine, the food will be divine and your kids won’t whine. But all of a sudden you get stomach flu on top of a hefty fine. for those who dream of sun, surf, and sand when they think of cruise ship, these crew members bring a rude awakening.

Secret Slang

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Naturally, a service provider wanted to make sure there are no hinders or panics during their cruise, so they encourage their employees to communicate in their code language for instance “code Alpha” is used to denote a medical emergency. “Code Adam” means there is a child missing and “code Oscar” means someone fell overboard. Let’s hope we never have the reason for these codes being shouted.

The Fewer, The Merrier

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Being a part of the cruise crew means you will enjoy the luxury of traveling the world, all the while being paid to do that. But all is not rosy, as you can imagine there are several trade-offs. In this case, you’ll need to say goodbye to your privacy. It’s a well-known fact that such cruize ships cram most of their workers in small cabins, which they have to share with fellow employees. However, if you happen to be an officer at the higher rank, you will get a room all to yourself.

 

Thrill Fest For All

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It’s only human nature that when you work in such close proximity to other crew members, you often end up developing a soft spot for them. One reason might be that since you are so far away from your friends and family, you sometimes need someone to fill that open gap in your life. One employee explained: “I hooked up with seven different people and I am a shy, average looking dude.” Another claimed the cruises are “actually just one big thrill-fest.”

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell

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You gain a brand new perspective on life when you find yourself cut off from the rest of the world. While some are dawned by the revelation that they aren’t happy in their relationship other find serenity. One such instance is explained by this crew member:  “You get a lot of married people that have their own separate lives on the cruise ship. I’ve worked with couples that have wives at home and a whole different relationship while they’re on the cruise ship. It’s kind of like a don’t-ask-don’t-tell policy.”

 

All Work, Little Play

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It can be tedious being trapped on the boat for months, you are subjected to the same scenery with not much variation. In order to escape this monotonous state of life people working as a crew often hatch creative pranks to keep themselves entertained “A favorite was while in a passenger area say to another crew member, loud enough to be heard by passengers, ‘Meet you in the bowling alley tonight!’” Obviously, there isn’t really a bowling alley on board. “Then we’d wait for the comment cards to come in: ‘Why do crew get a bowling alley when we don’t?’”

 

You Said What?

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Though it sounds entertaining to be a fly on the wall, in a life similar to what we see on Big Brother is not something the crew members signed for, at-least not willing. Since the walls of the cabins are so thin, even the faintest whispers won’t go unheard. Often the people who are unaware of this fact end up in a tough spot for talking about people behind closed doors.

 

Wrong Side Of The Sea

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Though they don’t growl at you, neither do they wear a black eyepatch or carry a parrot on their shoulder. But pirates are still a real-life phenomenon even in this day and age. Though Johnny deeps pirate was a really sarcastic one, real-life ones don’t share such a sense of humor. Back in 2009, several ships were attacked and over $35 million worth of good were stolen. Hence several ships now come equipped with water cannons to fend off the intruders.

 

Work Hard, Party Harder

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All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, and this is very much applicable to the cruise ship scene a swell. And the parties these crew members throw can simply be described as legendary! As explained by this Reddit user Heapsgoods: “there is a crew only bar, and beers are $1.50,” while for guests the same beer goes for over $15.

Restaurant Roulette

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People working in the service industry take their food very seriously. Which is why they cannot stress enough how their food is “almost inedible.” It lacks diversity and one Reddit user even said: “Food is provided, but the two most common ethnicities on my ship were from the Philippines and India, so the crew cafeteria was usually full of food I wasn’t used to, like pigtail stew & fish heads. I ate a lot of salad & mashed potatoes on my contracts.”

 

Hands Off The Guests

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Learning from their past experiences most of the cruise ships follow the stringent guideline of “no fraternizing with guests.”According to this, the crew members are strongly forbidden from engaging in any form of relationship other than the professional one. If they are every caught breaking this one rule, they are often immediately kicked off the cruise and their job.

 

Land Of The Lazy

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Having to work on a cruise ship is not only taxing on your physical health but it also affects your mental health as well. On an average one crew member has to work over 80 hours, which is almost double than the average working hours of an American citizen. and this work usually continues for 9 months or more. So if you’re the kind of person who likes long weekend and taking naps in the middle of the day, this isn’t the job for you.

Hanging Out To Dry

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If you are someone who has ever worked in the service industry you would be well aware of the bizarre requests that come your way.”Some young couples ask, ‘Could you make some towel animals for adults?’ They want naughty animals,” said a crew member who was currently working as a maid on the ship. “I say, ‘Sorry, I cannot give you that.’” While we appreciate a good joke, this was too weird for us too.

Smells Funny

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This was an incident that took place back in February of 2013 when the engine room of the Carnival Triumph, which caused it to lose all its power. This resulted in the guests begin stranded off at the Gulf of Mexico. But that wasn’t even the worst part of it. There soon began a sewage problem on the ship and as the crew started panicking about a potential epidemic. all the guests were forced to live in tents until rescue came.

 

Jailed For Being Sick

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Upon closer inspection, most of the rumors prove to be either false or simply exaggerations. But this one turned out to be true. If an employee happens to fall sick, they are often quarantined for however long as it takes. It is all done so that the rest of the passengers working on the ship don’t fall sick.

 

Words Turned To Money

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The opinion of a guest carries a lot of weight in this industry. If you have ever been asked to fill up a questionnaire once the journey is concluded. This is because in the business of pleasure the managers value your opinion the most. Your words could potentially bring a crew member a promotion or even a demotion.

 

Kids Are On You

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As a part of a cruise ships policy, if anything were to happen to the children aboard the ship, Only their parents are considered responsible for it. The cruise company takes no responsibility for any mishaps that might occur onboard to your kids, even if it’s a case of harm due to negligence. For this reason alone it would be wise to keep a close eye on your kids while on the ship.

 

You’re Going To Pay

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While it’s true that the crew gets to stay on the ship and are provided the fundamental necessities for no cost what so ever. But having food and a bed to sleep in can’t necessarily be considered living. In fact, the crew on many cruise ships are charged for basic necessities like drinking water, toilet paper or even extended internet access: “Wifi was $5 a day for 24-hour access to limited social media apps or $10 for 100 minutes unrestricted. I spent way too much money on the s***** wifi.”

 

Emergency War Room

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It is a little-known fact that like most of the other government ships that are in the service, cruise ships to have their own “war room”. This is a room where only the topmost officials are allowed access and are only used to strategize and deal with most unexpected situations that may arise during a voyage. This “safety” center is equipped with the most high-tech and advanced machinery.

 

Real Life Characters

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It’s a very common thing for the people working aboard the cruise ship to record everything that is going on around the ship. Some of the days all these people end up doing are to narrate their whole day on the camera, it is best put into words by an employee who said:  “It was basically the same comedy of errors each day of the week, with a different ‘cast’ of passengers each week.”

Going Green At Sea

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When people first board the ship, They can be seen awestruck by the humongous dining halls and walk past the unending edible options and the amazingly carved fruits placed eight in front of them. It is really difficult not to get hypnotized by all the pampering that thy shower upon us. But a guest should keep in mind that s the days are passing by. It’s the same food that is being served as well as used as a decoration.

 

Smooth Sailing

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The chefs working on a cruise ship are capable of cooking even the most exotic meals when asked to. They are skilled enough to work with any ingredient that is given to them which is why they are always asked by the officials to add a secret ingredient in their food which helps the guests with their digestion. Usually, this secret sauce consists of this one type of extra fat which also doubles as a laxative. it is given so that the ships plumbing can work without any hiccups.

 

Scavenging Animals

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It isn’t a secret form anyone that the crew is never treated to the same variety of high- end culinary feast that the guests get to enjoy. But they are allowed to munch on whatever is leftover remained by the guests. Some of these crew members are fortunate enough to take the food in the packed boxes to their cabins. But you also need to keep in mind this kind of behavior is kind of demeaning.

Scary Statistics

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Though this one is true, it’s far from what can be considered a fun fact. From an estimate, about 200 guests die while on their cruise. But this doesn’t mean that the cruise ships are dangerous. nor does this mean that you will be putting your life at risk by going on one such cruise. But these deaths are caused due to natural causes. Given this fact, you can always find a morgue on every cruise ship.

 

Fatty Food Frenzy

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John Primeau, Holland America’s spokesperson, shared another business secret with CNN, where she told them that the food found on a cruise is not exactly scarce in calories. In fact, it has been observed that every guest on the ship on average gains about 1 pound per day. on top of this, by the end of the journey there isn’t really any fresh food left to be served and so they often recycle the food left from the last week.

 

You Have Been Warned

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For any cruise, there is always an Itineraries present which guarantees that the ship would be docking at various destinations. While the guests are free to do as they please while the ship is docked, but it’s of utmost priority that you keep track of time. This is important because the ships have been known to leave their guests behind if they don’t come back on time.

 

You Are Who You’re With

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While every company is making it a priority to have more and more diversity in their crew. But apparently not all the members get this memo. As it turns out, the staff of the same ethnicity often tends to confide in each other, but that also means they shut out who are different from them.

 

Straight By Land

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Workers and crew members gather during the delivery ceremony of the MSC Meraviglia cruise ship, on May 31, 2017 at the STX shipyard of Saint-Nazaire, western France.
With a capacity of 65700 passengers and 1550 crew members, the MSC Meraviglia is the biggest cruise ship in Europe. / AFP PHOTO / JEAN-SEBASTIEN EVRARD (Photo credit should read JEAN-SEBASTIEN EVRARD/AFP/Getty Images)

 

Though “when in Rome” is a commonly used idiom, but once you join the crew of a cruise ship, this phrase gets a whole new meaning. People upon boarding the ship have been known to feel like a new person altogether. They feel that they are away from any sort of judgment and in the company of people who have never known them, they can be anything or anyone they want to be.

 

Ranks Are Real

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While there are without a doubt many upside s of being a crew member, it’s not always fun and games. In fact, a former crew member confessed that “there is almost a caste system in place,” which is in form of a hierarchy system, the captain sits on top of this followed by the entertainers present on the boat, then comes front-of-house, and at the bottom is the back-of-house.

 

Trust Is A Tricky Thing

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“We aren’t allowed to take elevator rides with guests if you’re the only two people in it,” explained one former cabin crew employee. “for the same reason [you are not allowed to fraternize with guests]. Also if you’re taking a photo with a guest both of your hands must be visible.”

 

Kick Anyone Off

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The rule about not fraternizing with visitors is one of the zero tolerance rules present on the ship, management is ruthless if they find a crew member guilty of breaking this rule “If you report [being harassed by an employee] to any officer or the front desk (Guest Services on some ships), security footage and logs will be reviewed, and that person will immediately be handled. You will never see them again.” Granted, this fact should not be abused and used to kick an employee off the ship simply because a visitor dislikes them.

 

Know Your Audience

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Although it’s not the most humane sounding approach it’s effective none the less. often when people board the ship they are categorized in one of the three categories the newlyweds, ‘overfeds’ and ‘soon-to-be-deads’. Once placed in these groups you will be assigned to a specific staff that specializes in handling the said group. To be fair it does make the job easier for everyone on board.

 

Can’t Help It

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If you ever find that the employee working on the ship stinks like a dead rat, be sure not to blame the poor soul, it’s not really his fault.  “You will never find a free washer unless you camp out in the laundry room for a few hours. There are usually about 5 to 15 washers/dryers, and anywhere from 1,000 to 2,500 crew members,” said one of the crew members.

 

Nothing Compares

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While it may be tough, serving on a cruise ship sure has its perks: “I took a sled dog ride in Alaska, visited Alcatraz, had an authentic curry in Mumbai, spent a day on a luxury yacht sailing around the Caribbean, snorkeling at the Great Barrier Reef, visited the great pyramids in Egypt, been to the lost city of Petra, spent days in Barcelona, Athens, Rome, Kiev, and so much more. Nothing you have to put up with onboard matters compared to that.”

 

Eat, Tease, Sleep, Repeat

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While coming up with new ideas is not exactly part of the job description of an employee who is in charge of entertainment on the ship. In fact, it is a good advice to enjoy it while you are on a particularly good cruise as long as it lasts, as you will soon be disappointed “We don’t want you to know that all those funny jokes we tell you at bingo? Yeah… Same ones are said Every. Single. Cruise.”

 

Someone’s Watching

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“It’s safe to assume if you’re outside of your cabin you are probably on camera,” said Gavin, a waiter working on a cruise line. “In the event of any kind of emergency, they could pull security footage at any time.” although they must avoid spreading any panic on the ship for obvious reasons. It is important to always be very of the fact that some have eyes on you.

You Had Me At Merlot

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Though it’s not common knowledge, but one should be very careful while ordering a bottle of wine on a cruise ship. as this one bottle can potentially dig a huge hole in your pocket. And if you do end up offering a bottle be sure to finish it as well. Because they will bill the bottle to your room and then put it back in the bar to serve their other guests.

 

Spoiled And Pampered – For Free

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Having being cramped in a really small space can be very stressful for a lot of us. So it’s no surprise that visitors love to blow some steam off. Literally. Although you can easily find saunas and steam baths on any luxury cruise ship. There are often fancy thermal suits which are of course not free to anyone. People don’t really care about the money when they get to sit in the lap of luxury.

 

They Have No Idea

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When you are cut off, it can be really challenging to keep up with the current happenings of the world, which is why people often are delighted if they get a chance to get into an engaging conversation with the cruise ship employee. But asking them about the current affairs wouldn’t be a good idea coz it’s highly unlikely that even they have any clue as to what is going on in the outside world. “You stop following news and sports and pop culture,” said a former cruise employee. “You’re really kind of isolated out there.”

Natural Remedy

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One of the most common ailments on a cruise ship is motion sickness. So it’s only natural that the staff working on these ships have come up with a natural remedy that helps them get back on their feet. This edible cure that they have been known to swear by consists of green apple and bland crackers. Sounds deceivingly simple right? but it’s truly effective.

 

Whether You Like It Or Not

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“If there is severe fog, a cruise ship is instructed not to dock at a port,” claims travelwhip.com. The reason behind this is quite simple though when the fog descends on the ship the captain’s vision becomes really limited. So instead of putting everyone’s lives at risk people have been known they decide to slow down until the weather improves. Same goes for the docking as well.