People that work on cruise ships lead lives that may shock the general public. Some cruise workers even lead secret double lives, unbeknownst to their loved ones back on land. It’s sort of like Las Vegas in a way, what happens on the ship stays on the ship! That is of course, until now.
You Will Have Zero Days Off
If you’re someone who looks forward to having a day off every week, working on a cruise ship might not be the best fit for you. Why? Well, cruise ship workers literally have no days off when they’re on contract. They work for stints of about 9 months at a time, and they will work every single day straight through their contract.
When their contracts are up, they enjoy a couple of months off before heading back to the ship. Although they don’t get days off, they don’t work all day every day. Workers rotate shifts, so each person will have a few hours of downtime every day.
Stuck at Sea in a Hurricane
Hurricanes can be absolutely terrifying when you live near the water, but what about actually being in the water when a hurricane strikes? You would think that this would be something that could be avoided, due to the fact that you have a couple of days of notice when a hurricane is supposed to land. However, cruise liners decided to make the journey from Gavelston, Texas…right when Hurricane Harvey was about to strike.
This decision led to twenty thousand people being stuck unable ut in the ocean, in the middle of the devastating storm. The port they initially left ended up closing due to floods, and they were to get clearance to head back to land. Scary!
Get Ready for Weird Guest Requests
Mix being on international waters with heavy drinking, and people who are in party mode, and you end up with some pretty strange requests from customers. Every individual has their “thing,” and when people are drinking and on vacation, they’re more likely to try and explore those things. Just ask one cruise ship worker who told USA Today that she was asked to make “adult” towel animals for one couple on her cruise ship.
She told the couple, “Sorry, I cannot give you that.” That request is mild compared to what one may expect to hear out on the sea. After all, people with all kinds of odd fetishes may be on board when you’re working!
The Food is Pretty Terrible
Cruise line workers are not eating the same luxury food items that the guests are eating unless they are particularly lucky and able to eat the leftovers from buffets at the end of their shift. Unlucky employees, who don’t get leftovers, end up eating weird and undesirable food – like goat foot stew (yes, we’re serious.)
Kitchen staff in the crew kitchen try to work with what they have, but unfortunately, that does not seem to be much! So unless you are going on a reputable, five-star cruise, you can generally expect the food to be pretty sub-par, so we would recommend to take some ramen on board if you can.
Dine Like an Officer
Your rank on a cruise ship can significantly impact your dining experience, potentially allowing you to savor meals fit for royalty. A former cruise ship employee revealed that high-ranking officers often dine on the same gourmet fare served to passengers.
What sets them apart from the rest of the staff is their privilege to order passenger menu items at any time throughout the day, avoiding the typical late-night buffet rush experienced by crew members. These exclusive perks make working as a high-ranking officer not only prestigious but also a culinary delight. Imagine indulging in exquisite cuisine whenever you desire - a luxurious benefit that adds to the allure of life at sea for those in top positions.
Crazy 30 Ft Waves Batter Royal Caribbean Ship
Royal Caribbean boasts having some of the largest luxury cruise ships on the market. So, when we tell you that one of their ships was snapped like a twig by waves, it should make you just a little bit nervous! The ship was headed to Florida from the Northeast coast when it was forced to turn around, due to a severe storm.
The storm resulted in waves as big as 30 feet crashing into the sides of the boat! Photographs of the damage done reveal tables and chairs in disarray and a collapsed ceiling. The images were pretty horrific, truth be told.
You Will Get Stranded in Another Country
Docking in ports and exploring foreign lands is the main reason that anyone signs up for a job on a cruise ship. But if you go exploring at a port, you’d better make sure to return before your scheduled departure time!
Otherwise, you can find yourself being stranded without any clear way of leaving. This is because the ship will definitely leave without you if you are even a minute late. It's a serious deal. Make sure to set multiple alarms on your phone if you don’t want to get stranded on an island somewhere. Or, you might end up like Tom Hanks in "Cast Away."
When you imagine sailing the world on a luxury cruise liner, you might have an elevated idea of what the living situation would be like. Think again if you are working on the following cruise liner.
One employee from Royal Caribbean stated that living situations were “tight.” “You stay on the lower deck, so you’re always underwater. There are no windows in the room.” The employee said that he could touch all four walls if he were standing in the center of his room and that it actually worked out to be “a total of about 10 square feet.”
Pump-Up the Party
Cruise ship employees know how to have a blast and unwind when the opportunity arises. Surprisingly, they often throw even more fabulous parties than the passengers! You see, while the cruisers are enjoying a drink or two under the starry night sky on the upper deck, our hardworking crew members find themselves sipping cocktails in the cozy, but somewhat windowless, crew bars.
It might not have the glamour of the top deck, but it's where the real fun happens. Laughter, camaraderie, and a shared sense of adventure fill these spaces. Crew members transform these humble spots into lively hubs of merriment, swapping stories, dancing, and creating memories that rival any passenger's extravagant escapades above deck.
No Refunds for Sick Guests?
Purchasing insurance when booking a cruise is an option that is very much encouraged. However, the insurance required when traveling internationally is ridiculously expensive, which leads a lot of people to travel without it. And yet, we still advise that one gets it no matter what the price might be.
If passengers do not end up choosing some kind of insurance, then they can lose all of their booking fees if they become too sick to go on their cruise. And that is just a huge bummer for whoever wanted to go on that cruise. So get insured folks, you won't regret it.
Pirate attacks may sound like something straight out of the history books, but they are actually still pretty common today. Typically, Pirates tend to avoid targeting cruise liners, because of the insane amount of people on board, but that doesn’t mean that it can’t happen.
Because of this, cruise lines train their employees to protect themselves and the guests in case of a pirate attack. Cruise workers are trained to use giant water cannons in case pirates attempt to overcome the ship. Since the cruise ships are so large, the blasts are powerful enough to take out a small pirate boat.
Being in the sea for long periods of time can pose many threats. For the most part, people can enjoy cruises and not have to worry about any potential dangers. But when something nefarious does rear its head, ships need to be prepared. Some cruise ships are built with long-range acoustic devices in place, which crew members can use to ward off potential threats.
In fact, this is exactly what happened in 2005, when a cruise ship was targeted by pirates off the coast of Africa. The crew had to act quickly, and luckily, ended up successfully deterring the attack.
Pulling Pranks on the Passengers
Working at sea every day for most of the year can get pretty old, pretty quickly. The monotony of it all can take its toll mentally. To liven things up, cruise ship workers pull some light-hearted pranks on passengers.
According to one anonymous cruise worker who was interviewed by Mental Floss, “A favorite was, while in a passenger area, to say to another crew member, loud enough to be heard by passengers, ‘Meet you in the bowling alley tonight!’ Of course, there wasn’t actually a bowling alley on board. Then, we’d wait for the comment cards to come in.” Not sure how bowled over we'd be.
Fraternizing with Guests is Strictly Prohibited
We all have this idea of a cruise being the perfect stage for a romantic story. And sometimes, we imagine that story involving a passenger and someone working on the ship. But that's just a fantasy. In reality, cruise workers are strictly forbidden from hooking up with guests, and doing so is one of the quickest methods to get yourself tossed overboard (just kidding, but still – you’d be fired).
According to one anonymous cruise worker, staff is discouraged from having any type of one-on-one interaction with guests. Of course, the exception to this is anything of a professional nature.
This Round Is on Us!
Most cruise ships include a bar that only serves the crew (with far cheaper drinks). A specialty beverage on a cruise ship can run guests up to $15, while crew members can get similar drinks for less than $2. No wonder they’re drinking so much!
Technically, workers aren’t really supposed to be drinking, but that rule is apparently one that’s made to be broken. According to one former cruise ship worker that talked to Trend-Chaser, “Everyone is told they’re not allowed to actually get drunk, but then you go drinking with your HR person and she has four or five drinks.”
Apparently, working on a cruise ship can take you right back to the good old days of high school, when everyone “cliqued up” and flocked together in groups. On cruise ships, this typically happens according to what country workers are from. Cruise ships are staffed with an international base of employees, with workers from all four corners of the world.
Each cruise ship “clique” has a name and something they are known for. According to one worker, an example of this is the “Filipino Mafia,” who are known for their ability to score booze after hours. We think we'll get connected with them!
Rescue Caught on Camera
Sure, there are over 1200 cameras on most Royal Caribbean cruise ships, but some say that just isn’t enough. Some people are adamant that there needs to be some type of technology that can detect when someone goes overboard.
This may have ensured that the 22-year-old didn’t have to spend nearly 5 hours in the water before he was rescued. Luckily, the man was heard by another man who happened to be sitting with his daughter out on his balcony when he heard the man’s screams for help. Once the ship was stopped and the rescue was underway, passengers started filming and caught the whole scene on camera.
Cruise Ship Worker Disappears From Bonaire
Unfortunately, because of the nature of cruise ships being at sea, there are plenty of scary stories that have surfaced over the years. Here is one of them. This terrifying incident involves Adriana Morales de Florencio, a cruise ship worker who went missing when the Royal Caribbean cruise ship she worked on left the port on the island of Bonaire.
Video footage captured the young woman walking off of the ship to explore the island, but she never made it back onto the ship. Her family members created a social media campaign to raise awareness about her disappearance, and authorities questioned locals and posted signs.
The Helms Have Eyes
If you happen to be a private person who really values their alone time, working on a cruise ship might not be for you. Why? Aside from what we’ve told you about everyone knowing everyone else’s business, there are also cameras everywhere, that record literally everything you do at every moment of the day…with a couple of exceptions, of course.
While this all may sound pretty unsettling, it’s actually for your safety. In the case of emergencies, the cameras are there to be able to shine a light on what happened. But don’t worry, there aren’t any cameras in the private living quarters or bathrooms!
Trapped in a Nightmare
When something horrifying happens on a cruise ship, you can’t do much to escape it, which means you may very well get stuck in something that seems like a living nightmare. This was the case back in 2015, for passengers and employees of the Carnival Ecstasy. One unfortunate couple, in particular, got up close and personal with the scene; an electrician’s terrible, accidental death in an elevator.
The couple that walked in on this scene described it as nothing less than the stuff of horror movies. Crew members worked like crazy to keep passengers away from the scene, in one of the ship’s onboard restaurants.
Bodies on Board
It's a very sad statistic, but basically, about 200 people pass away on cruise ships every year. When someone dies, there needs to be a system in place to store the bodies. Enter, the cruise ship morgue. Yes, you read that right: there are morgues on cruise ships.
Typically, most of the onboard morgues are very small, fitting only up to about five bodies. Some ships may include larger morgues, especially if the ship specifically caters to senior citizens. One former cruise employee said that “since the line was for older demographics, we had people die on the ship pretty regularly.”
Falling Head over Helms
Going overboard on a cruise ship sounds like something that only happens in the movies, or once in a blue moon. But it does happen, just like it did to a 22-year-old American man in 2015. The fact that this man survived the fall alone is pretty insane, as the fall from a ship that big is enough to snap almost anyone’s neck on the spot.
The man not only survived the fall but continued to hang on for around five hours in the open water, before being rescued. Luckily for this guy, some passengers spotted him in the water and began throwing him lifesavers. The man miraculously survived the experience with his neck intact.
“Netflix and chill” isn’t exactly a possibility when working aboard a cruise ship. In fact, finding any kind of internet at all can be a seriously daunting (and very expensive) task when you’re at sea. Basically, the only time you’ve got a shot of checking your Facebook is when you’re docked in a port.
So, if you find the idea of being without Wi-Fi for days at a time to be terrifying, working on a cruise ship probably isn’t for you. In fact, Wi-Fi is so ridiculously expensive that pretty much anyone who works on a ship gets familiar with using internet cafes. On some luxury cruise ships, crew members are provided with a staff internet lounge.
Say Goodbye to Personal Space
“Stay in your lane, dude!” Ah, personal space in five words. Unfortunately, this kind of thing is super common in cruise ship crew living areas, believe it or not. Rooms for crew members often consist of uber-small bunk beds and little to no floor space. It is very difficult to sleep and feel comfortable.
On some cruise ships, the rooms are situated in a “dorm” style, where up to eleven people can stay in the same room. However, most people that work on a cruise ship will tell you that it’s worth it for the rest of the benefits of being on the crew.
Okay, so you can’t hook up with the guests, but that doesn’t mean you can’t hook up at all! Crew member relationships are extremely common aboard cruise ships. Just imagine being around the same people in tight quarters for most of the year – hookups are inevitable!
And romance between crew members is unlike any typical relationship that would happen on land. Why? Well, considering that the crew lives together, works together, eats together, and plays together, it’s pretty hard to get away from your significant other if things get sour. And you can forget about keeping your relationship a secret, as everyone knows everything that is happening on board!
Emergencies do happen, and when something goes wrong on a ship and you’re in the middle of the ocean – things can get pretty bad.
Just ask Carnival Cruise, who, in 2013, lost power after there was a fire within the engine room. Passengers aboard the ship got stuck in the Gulf of Mexico, and the sewage started to get backed up. The nasty liquid got so full that it started overflowing all around the ship, and smelled so bad that some areas were labeled as toxic, and passengers camped out in tents in an effort to escape the hideous stench. Yuck!
When sickness strikes on a cruise ship, it can be absolutely devastating. This is because it has the tendency to travel super quickly, and passengers can’t do much to avoid getting sick, because they’re basically trapped in a small space with the virus. This is what happened when 100 passengers on a Carnival Cruise ship developed Norovirus – a foodborne illness that causes flu-like symptoms.
The passengers just happened to get sick on their very first day of a ten-day cruise. Norovirus outbreaks on cruise ships are actually fairly common, and happened four times on four different ships over a single year alone!
Hiring Americans Is Not Common Practice
A lot of the time, cruise lines try to avoid hiring Americans. But, why? Well, Americans are spoiled in the sense that we are used to 40-hour workweeks, which is not the case with much of the rest of the world. Americans are also used to working the standard Monday through Friday schedule and taking their weekends off.
Hours can very much exceed 40 hours on a cruise ship, and you can forget about taking an entire weekend off. Most of the time, you would be lucky to get a single day off for your entire contract. And therefore, most people who hired on cruise ships are not American.
Cruise Ships Wreak Havoc on the Environment
We know the last thing anyone wants to think about when they are packing up to go on a tropical cruise vacation is their decision’s effect on the environment. But cruise ships can do some serious damage, as far as air pollution is concerned. And the devil is in the details.
One cruise ship alone can produce an equal amount of air pollution in a single day to one million cars! Even though cruise companies are fully aware of the damage the ships do to the air, they have not done much to address the problems they cause and to control the pollution.
The Tips Can Be Amazing
As with many jobs in the hospitality industry, cruise ship workers depend largely on tips to maximize their paychecks. They are just as entitled to tips as anyone working in a bar, restaurant, or even a hotel. Most cruise lines even have a mandatory gratuity, which is automatically added to a customer’s bill and then split fairly among employees.
And since there are little to no living expenses when you’re on board, you can save that money very easily! In that respect, working on a cruise is pretty sweet and you can make a pretty sweet living while travelling the world.
Your Opinion Matters…if You’re a Passenger
Most people who have been on a cruise are fully aware of the existence of comment cards. If you’ve cruised as a passenger, you may think they’re just a technicality, and you probably care very little about them. But as a crew member, those comment cards can actually have a serious impact on your life aboard the ship.
Reviews on comment cards are taken so seriously that they can influence an employee’s paycheck. Positive feedback can lead to bonuses and raises, while negative feedback can ultimately lead to an employee’s termination if they’re bad enough. Yikes! We will make sure to leave positive reviews for great service on cruise ships!
Dodging the Illusive Rogue Wave
Potential threats from pirates and humans aren't the only thing that cruise ships need to keep an eye on while out on the treacherous waters. The water itself can be dangerous. Rogue waves are waves that seem to come literally out of nowhere, quickly and with fury.
Rogue waves are the stuff pirate nightmares are made of. These waves can also be known as “freak” or “monster” waves, because of how insanely large and random they are. Rogue waves have been known to tear even the largest of ships apart. So cruise ships need to be super vigilant when these kinds of waves come out nowhere.
What the Crew Doesn’t Want You to Know
Although being on a cruise ship is slightly different than working in a resort on land, it is still in the same realm of the hospitality industry – and working in hospitality is far from being a walk in the park. In fact, that might be the understatement of the century.
Hospitality workers spend their days serving the needs of others, often in exchange for pretty low hourly pay and long, grueling hours. Working on a cruise ship is no exception, so it should come as no surprise that the crew’s days aren’t all “rainbows and unicorns.” Putting everyone's needs ahead of their own for long periods of time can be mentally challenging.
Being in Front Isn't Always the Best
You would think that being at the front of the boat would be the safest option. But this isn't like sitting at the front of the bus, folks. If you think being in the front of the boat is a good thing, think again. Booking a room in the front of the boat ensures that you will be in for a bumpy ride.
The room will feel like it's constantly moving and will probably make you feel a little seasick. The crew is constantly cleaning the front rooms, but be sure that if you were to shine a blacklight on the room's furniture, it wouldn't be a nice view.
Drama Drama Drama
With all the partying and romancing happening on board, there is obviously a fair share of drama. There are ship politics, gossip, and games and they are everywhere. Friendships are made, ruined, and everything in between. It is basically a microcosm of the Earth.
And seeing that the world is full of drama, it makes sense that you would also find it on a cruise. Yes, the crew may seem like they have their lives together and are strictly professional, but deep down, they are riddled with anxiety and tension. And that can manifest itself in petty politics and backstabbing.
Management is Mean
While the workers are renowned for being amazing in their hospitality and being hard workers, there is a reason why they are so good at their jobs - the whip is often cracked on them pretty harshly. Cruise ship management is known for being mean. What usually ends up happening is that managers are given separate private quarters and the power to discipline.
The managers watch everything on cameras, and if a staff member acts up, they will be left at a port. No joke. No matter how badly managers mistreat their staff, there are always more people applying to work on the ship.
If you are thinking about doing something illegal while on a cruise liner, you might want to think twice. And there's a good reason for this. For those who break the law, steal, or generally act criminal, the ship has a jail. The captain and his officers have the authority to put you behind bars while on board.
They can legally arrest someone until the ship reaches port and the police can take them away. Guess what? The crew is thrown behind bars themselves sometimes too! So if you are going on a cruise anytime soon, you should go with the approach of not wanting to do any criminal activity while on international waters.
You would think that stopping off at a beach or a port would be an exciting prospect for just the passengers. But no. The staff can also get in on the action. Whenever the ship makes a port call, the crew knows that they are in for some fun.
When passengers leave to roam around, the staff can too. They wait for these days like no other. The crew is finally allowed to rest, after working tirelessly for days on end. It's also a chance for them to get some time away from annoying passengers, rude managers, and all the drama on board.
The Crew Doesn't Care
Though you may think that you have created a bond with the staff, you are just another person who has come in and out of their life. Of course, they are paid to care, but behind that huge smile, they are just waiting for you to leave before they have to move on to the next guest. It's just a business, at the end of the day.
More precisely, they're waiting to go below the decks for the next drama. If you tip them, you may stand out...but other than that, you're just another face in a crowd of passengers.
The Law is Still Very Real
It’s actually pretty common for people to equate being on international waters with complete freedom from any type of legal matters. But laws are still very real, and they can be enforced. How? With the help of “maritime law,” which around the United States, is enforced by the Coast Guard.
Maritime law is exactly how Melina Roberge and Isabelle Lagace were caught when they attempted to smuggle about 200 pounds of illegal substances back with them on a Princess Cruise ship, in 2016. The two women were caught and are now facing up to twenty years in prison. The narcotics were worth an estimated $16 million and were found in the women’s suitcases.
The Ships Have a War Room
A “War Room” on a cruise ship might sound a little funny, but if you think about it, it actually makes perfect sense. After all, cruise ships can be targeted by pirates and other possible enemies. Although these types of emergencies on cruise ships are fairly rare, they do happen. So, what is a war room?
A war room is a place where people, typically government officials or the like, get together to discuss plans regarding the safety of a certain group of people. So, the war room on a cruise ship may be used by officers in the case of a pirate attack. Officers could gather in the war room to plan out an escape and defense strategy.
Crew Member goes Missing from Disney Cruise
Most everyone who goes on a cruise does so to have a good time and relax. However, there are also bad people in the world, and these people can use cruises to harm others. This may have been the case in 2011 when a young British woman named Rebecca Coriam was working on the Disney Wonder cruise ship. The ship was somewhere off the coast of Mexico when she seemed to just vanish into thin air.
Video footage pulled from the ship reveals Rebecca talking on the phone just before her disappearance. According to reports, she appeared to be in distress. Rebecca was never seen or heard from again.
Flooding is Fairly Frequent
You would think that the whole point of being on a boat (or a cruise ship) is to float ABOVE the water. Well, apparently that is not always the case. While many ships are prepared and have preventative measures to stop from sinking, there have been many occasions when flooding has still happened.
Take the following story, for example. Unlucky passengers on a 2018 Carnival Dream cruise ship experienced a flood that affected 50 staterooms caused by a water line break. So it goes to show that water can find its way on board any ship. We are sure the Cruise company was ...flooded...with complaints!
Since it is no easy (or cheap) feat to get continuous internet access while on board, most cruise crew members lose touch with the outside world for the duration of their work trip. This can lead many crew members to feel extremely isolated, and a sense of hopelessness knowing that they don't have direct access to the outside world.
Not only do they lose touch with family and friends, but the world news events often go unnoticed until they return to shore. Talk about going off the grid! Thankfully, many cruise ships are improving their Wi-Fi capabilities, addressing this problem for the long term.
When you join a cruise crew, you not only have to go through rigorous training, but you also have to learn a new language! Ok, ok... Not an entirely new language but you do have to speak in code so you can communicate with the crew without letting passengers know what's going on.
There is pretty much a term for every single eventuality imaginable. For example, Code Alpha is code for a medical emergency, while Code Bravo is a signal for Fire on board. Then there is Code Oscar, which is what the crew says when they mean "man overboard." There are many other examples too.
Ignorance Is Bliss
Like every other emergency, fires breaking out on board are terrifyingly NOT uncommon. After all, there are plenty of sources of fire on a cruise ship. There are engines. There is gas. There is electricity. The list goes on and on. And yet, if you have ever been a cruise passenger you might not have even been made aware of a fire emergency.
That's right, it is generally a Cruise ship policy to only alert passengers of fire if it's necessary for their safety. So while you're enjoying your dinner above deck, below there could be a fire raging! Yikes.
Stay on the Ship!
Cruise workers have their schedules planned out in detailed shifts. This includes telling them when they can disembark from the ship. This way, the ship can always guarantee that they are adequately staffed in absolutely every single department. And it goes both ways. Not only do they need to make sure they're never understaffed, but overstaffing can lead to burnout.
It's strictly forbidden to get off the ship if you're on shift. Even if you are particularly sneaky, there's no way of breaking this rule! Why? While it's your shift, your identification documentation and passports are confiscated by the captain.
One of the alluring factors about cruise ships is that they have everything you could ever need while you are floating in the ocean. The only problem is when there is a malfunction and even the basic necessities can no longer be provided to passengers and crew...while isolated at sea.
That very nightmare took place in 2013 on a Carnival Cruise ship. Midway through the week-long cruise the elevators and toilets...just..stopped...working. We can leave it to your imagination to guess what happens over the next few days. One thing we can confirm is that the place did not smell so good.
Thanks to warnings from crew members, if you are planning on taking a cruise, keep your financial wits about you! You might think that you have paid the bulk of your trip in advance - but that is only the beginning a lot of the time. Cruise liners are packed to the brim with hidden costs.
From obscenely overpriced Wi-Fi to expensive on-land excursions to bottled water, your pockets will be empty by the time you disembark. So you need to get clued up on the amenities of the cruise before you even step food on board, so that you now what you'll have to pay for and what is free.
Unfortunately, one of the risks of getting onto a form of a floating device, be it a kayak, yacht, or cruise ship is that people can fall overboard. It doesn't happen that often. But there is always the chance if the waters become treacherous enough.
The following story is a perfect example of when passengers might end up going overboard. A cruise ship worker on a Norwegian Cruise line soon found himself overboard after an accidental slip. Luckily for him, a DIFFERENT cruise ship happened to rescue him...22 hours later! And there are other stories like this, so we shouldn't take this for granted at all.
Sure, the work schedule for cruise ship crew can be demanding, but we are all human! Everyone needs a bathroom break, and sometimes it is more urgent than normal. Especially when you are on a ship and many people are prone to seasickness. Not to mention the fact that food on ships can be problematic for many people's constitution at the best of times.
Sadly, it is not uncommon for crew members to be denied their bathroom breaks during busy periods on the ship. Not only is this incredibly cruel but also often leads to...Uhm...unsightly accidents...So make sure to let your crew members go when they gotta go.
Ask About Hidden Outlets
Most cruise ship workers know their ship like the back of their hand. If you’re a guest on a cruise ship, don’t be afraid to ask your steward for inside information about your room. Stewards are responsible for keeping cruise ship rooms in tip-top shape, so they know every nook and cranny of pretty much every room.
Many guests don’t realize just how many hidden storage areas there are in their rooms. There are usually storage areas behind mirrors, under beds, and around cruise ship couches. Plus, many cruise ships add new charging outlets to keep up with the times. If you search your room for these hidden features and come up empty-handed, ask your steward. They’re bound to know.
You can pack all you want for your cruise, but you’re bound to miss a few things. If you’re worried about getting seasick while on your cruise, you undoubtedly plan to pack as many seasick remedies and medications as possible. If you forget something or run out, have no fear. Cruise ships usually have their own seasick remedy station.
Guest services usually have a stock of meclizine, an over-the-counter motion sickness medicine. You can ask cruise line staff for a few if you’re feeling really desperate for relief. You can also ask the waitstaff for more homegrown remedies via room service. Green apples and bites of ginger can do wonders.
The Secret Code
All cruise ship workers go through intensive training before they take off on their first adventure. Part of that training is learning a secret language only used on cruise ships. Using code words to describe certain instances is key to keeping some things secret from guests. This isn’t nefarious. It just makes for a more pleasant guest experience.
For example, a few code words commonly used are “PVI” (public vomiting incident) and “Kilo” (all personnel to their emergency stations). Guests certainly don’t want to hear about barf while on vacation. Cruise ship staff doesn’t want a group of guests to start panicking if they overhear a cruise ship workers say the word “emergency.” Therefore, a secret code is necessary.
Hundreds of ships are out on the open seas at any given time. How do these ships from all different parts of the world communicate with each other? Well, there’s something called Seaspeak. Seaspeak was made the official language of the seas in 1988. It’s a standardized language that all captains and crews use to communicate over a ship’s radio.
Seaspeak is based in English and uses a limited number of words, commands, and numbers in a strict format. Message markers like “Request,” “Advice,” and “Warning” precede all radio messages. Plus, all units of time are spoken in Coordinated Universal Time. Seaspeak is vital to a ship’s safe passage for guests and crew.
It’s Not Really an “Unlimited” Package
Cruise ships are known for their excess of food and drink. But the truth of the matter is that most cruise passengers don’t actually purchase the “unlimited” drinking package. Cruise ship employees absolutely know which guests have the unlimited packages and which ones do not. So, your friendly cruise ship bartender is definitely monitoring how many of those “unlimited” drinks you get.
Bartenders can turn off a guest’s cruise ship credit card if they overindulge or become unruly. No one, guests and staff alike, wants to deal with a belligerent passenger who has had one too many Long Island Ice Teas. Cruise ship staff are trying their best to keep everyone classy. Remember to help them out.
Subliminal Staff Messaging
If you think cruise ships are giant cash cows, you’d be correct. Cruise ship staff are encouraged by their managers to encourage extra spending. The cruise ship itself is a well-oiled machine that employs certain tricks to encourage guests to spend time and money in certain areas. The cruise ship's PA system will often broadcast certain messages to subliminally influence the flow of traffic or encourage guests to visit a less-utilized part of the ship.
Customer-facing crew members will also throw in some lines in their speeches to promote certain activities, like visiting Starbucks or checking out the ship’s casino. Some activity managers have been known to film their daily newscast with a Starbucks Venti latte in-frame. If you suddenly want a pumpkin spice latte after watching one of those broadcasts, that might be why.
The Secret Burn Book
Have you ever worked a customer service job? Yes? Then you know how silly and ridiculous customers can be. It’s no different on a cruise ship. In fact, the high concentration of people in such a small area might even make notorious customer behavior even worse. To cope, many cruise ship crews have a secret burn book filled with the dumbest guest interactions.
These burn books are often filled with the weirdest questions and requests asked by cruise ship guests. A former Royal Caribbean director divulged that their cruise ship’s burn book had such silly gems as, “How long does it take the crew to get home every night?” and “Is the ship parked backward? I can’t find my cabin.”
Guess What? Guests are Predictable!
Stocking a cruise ship with enough food for thousands of guests is no joke. Cruise ship staff have this process down to a science. Well, down to math, anyway. As it turns out, we humans are pretty predictable when it comes to our eating habits. Cruise ship managers and higher-ups can accurately predict what kind of food to stock on any given cruise based on where most of the passengers are from.
For example, cruises with a majority American audience tend to order and stock more ketchup, chicken, and eggs. If a cruise has predominately Chinese guests, the staff makes sure to stock more fresh fruit and seafood. These statistics may be generalizations, but they help the crew run their cruise in a way that makes everyone happy and satisfied.
No Smooth Sailing for Short Sails
Want some insider advice on how to avoid catching norovirus, the ever-dreaded cruise contagion? Listen up. Cruise staff has seen it all, and they know the best ways to avoid catching this highly contagious virus. The most basic way to avoid being caught in an outbreak is to avoid short-term cruises altogether.
Royal Caribbean crew members highly recommend avoiding these cheaper, shorter cruises because they tend to draw in older guests who are more susceptible to catching something. These cheaper cruises also attract younger partiers who are usually more focused on the all-you-can-drink bar instead of basic sanitation and hygiene. Yikes.
“Wash Your Hands!”
If you’ve ever been on a cruise, you’ve probably noticed that all cruise staff members are obsessed with hand washing. It’s kind of annoying, really. Like, who doesn’t wash their hands on a regular basis? Well, plenty of people don’t, and cruise ship staff know that all too well. Staff encourages hand washing and basic hygiene to lessen the risk of a norovirus outbreak onboard.
Here’s an insider pro tip about the whole “wash your hands” messaging. If you notice that PA messages and staff members really ramp up the hand-washing reminders, it’s probably because there’s been a small outbreak on board. Part of a cruise ship’s Outbreak Prevention Plan is to increase hygiene messaging without freaking out passengers. Now you know.
The Staff Won’t Flirt
It’s a common sense rule that cruise ship staff members are not allowed to hook up with guests. That’s a whole can of worms that no cruise company wants to open. So, if a staff member is ever caught hooking up with a passenger, they are immediately fired and sent home. Cruise ship staff members are nothing but professional, though, so this is usually never an issue.
If anything, cruise passengers are usually the ones being inappropriate with staff. Workers have to deal with flirtatious, handsy, and cringey behavior all the time. Staff is trained on how to avoid, diffuse, and de-escalate tense situations of a romantic nature. One cruise worker said he always poses for photos with passengers with his thumbs up. That way, his hands are always in plain view. No one can accuse him of being inappropriate.
A Real-Life Love Boat
Romantic relationships at work are usually an HR nightmare. Not on a cruise ship! Thousands of staff members are working in close quarters for months at a time. Hookups and relationships are bound to happen, so it’s an unspoken rule that dating a coworker is allowed. Cruise ship staff say that the timeline for a cruise ship relationship is way faster than a typical landlocked one.
New couples will often request to share a cabin and say “I love you” in just a few week's time. They waste no time getting down to business! Cruise ship relationships usually end once the boat is docked, but some withstand the test of time. Many upper management staff members met their significant other on board, where they both became “lifers” to maintain their relationship.
Tips & Thanks
Ship staff goes above and beyond to make sure every passenger has the time of their life during their voyage. Guests often tip workers a little extra something as a way to show their appreciation. While this extra cash is appreciated, there’s another way guests can give thanks for superb service.
According to some cruise ship managers and directors, naming specific crew members on comment cards can result in a lot of perks. If a worker gets praised by a guest and the management is notified, that crew member can get advantages like free WiFi, promotions, and a stellar permanent record.
Celebrities, they’re just like us! Famous people enjoy going on cruises as much as the next person. Hosting a celeb on a cruise ship will happen every once in a while. Staff members are trained on how to navigate these complicated scenarios. Cruise ship staff have divulged some of the ways they make sure their celebrity guests have a “normal” and private voyage.
From Seth Rogan to Kelsey Grammar, celebrities have relied on cruise ship staff to help them navigate among the masses. Staff will often escort celebs into shows and performances after the lights go down. Other celebrities have reserved private dining experiences or reserved a block of rooms for extra privacy.
The Towel Animal Gang
At this point, towel animals are synonymous with cruise ships. You know what we’re talking about. Cruise ship stewards make creative and fun animals out of your towels when they go through and clean your room every day. It’s a delightful and whimsical surprise that many cruise ship passengers have grown to love.
The art of towel animals is passed down from older, more experienced stewards to new hires. Staff know how to create anything from a koala to a turkey. Most cruises encourage their stewards to make a new creation each day. Many staff members have the creative freedom to create whatever animal they feel is best for each guest room. Believe it or not, staff members can tell a lot about a person based on what they keep in their cruise ship room.
Your Ship Is Super Clean
Some people get grossed out by the idea of sailing the ocean blue on a ship with over 2,000 people on it. We don’t blame them. Seaborne illnesses like norovirus are no joke. You can rest assured that each and every cruise ship staff member takes the cleanliness of their ship very seriously. Cruise ships are cleaner than airplanes, subways, and maybe even your own house (no offense).
One employee shared that she used to work in the daycare center of a cruise ship. High-touch surfaces and toys were thoroughly cleaned and disinfected on a regular basis. And we’re not talking a quick once-over with a Clorox wipe. The toys were steam-cleaned, hand-washed, and thoroughly cleaned with Q-tips and a cleaning solution.
A Tricky Casino
This cruise ship staff secret may or may not be a rumor. We don’t know for sure, and neither do the average cruise ship employees. However, every rumor has a kernel of truth, right? So here it goes. Rumor has it that cruise ship casinos give guests higher payouts on the first two days of the journey.
These initial winnings get guests excited and encourage them to play more. Once the ship reaches international waters, they aren’t regulated or required to give the same high payout. People keep playing, receiving lower payouts, and hoping they’ll win big like they did during the first two days. Tricky, right?
Don’t Complain About Tipping
Tipping fatigue is something that people have been grumbling about for a while. But we’re here to tell you that you shouldn’t skimp out on tipping cruise ship staff. The reality is that many staff members are overworked and underpaid. The pay can vary wildly depending on a person’s position and country of origin. Stewards and cleaning crews are paid way less than performers and musicians on cruise ships.
Also, many people suspect that cruise companies recruit employees from countries with very lax labor laws, so they don’t have to pay them as much. Cruise staff aren’t going to say it to your face, but tipping is greatly appreciated. Don’t complain about the automatic gratuity added by the cruise ship, and don’t skimp on giving extra cash to the ship’s stewards and bartenders.
The Cruise Hierarchy
A cruise ship is basically like a floating city full of a bunch of different people. Just like on land, humans have created hierarchies and prejudices while on board. Some former cruise workers shared on Reddit that there is a definite hierarchy among cruise ship employees. The way you’re treated is, unfortunately, dependent on your rank.
There are officers, staff, and crew. Officers are the highest-ranking employees on board and therefore get much better treatment, such as more cabin room, better food, and higher pay. Staff members like dancers, performers, and lower-level managers usually share a room with one other person. Crew members, on the other hand, do all the hard labor of making a cruise run while getting the lowest pay and poorest quality food.
Ship Wives and Ship Husbands
Cruise ship employees are away from home for weeks, if not months, at a time. Although we can’t speak for every cruise ship staff member, there are certainly people who partake in the “ship wife” or “ship husband” tradition. Yes, it’s exactly what you think it is. Some staff members carry on affairs with other crew members while out at sea, even if they’re married on land.
Whether or not their land-bound significant other is aware of their sea partner probably depends on the individuals in question and how they approach their relationship. But these hookups definitely happen. There are some guys and gals out there who have fun on the job and return to their spouses and kids every few weeks or months.
What a Waste
This cruise secret is gross but true. Do you ever wonder what in the world happens to all the trash and waste produced by a cruise ship? Thousands of people are floating on international waters on a relatively tiny ship. That’s a whole lot of human waste. Most of us don’t like to think about it, but all that stuff has got to go somewhere.
As it turns out, cruise ships release human waste into the ocean while it’s cruising on international water. The waste is heavily treated and is viewed as “organic,” so they release it periodically in specially designated areas of the ocean. Despite being heavily regulated, some crew members whisper online that they’ve seen other non-organic waste being thrown into the ocean by their cruise ship. That’s pretty concerning if you ask us.
It’s Pretty Cheap to Party
Working on a cruise ship isn’t for everyone. But if it’s for you, you sure get a ton of perks. One of the major perks that many cruise employees love to show off is their access to ridiculously cheap adult beverages while on board. Employees pay a fraction of the price for alcohol compared to their passenger counterparts.
In fact, the prices are way lower than they are on land, too. Crew can pay as little as a dollar for a drink, which is pretty wild. Meanwhile, passengers are charged up the wazoo for a simple cocktail or glass of wine. Working on a cruise may require you to work hard, but at least they make it easy to play hard.
Doing laundry is a dreaded chore for many of us. Guess what? It can be even more of a drag as a cruise ship employee. Many cruise ships simply don’t have enough washers and dryers to accommodate the entire crew at any given time. The average cruise ship has only five to fifteen washers and dryers and 1,000 to 2,000 employees.
Those are worse numbers than your apartment complex’s laundromat, huh? Apparently, it can take hours to find a free washing machine on board. Maybe crew members team up and do communal wash cycles to up their chances of getting clean clothes.
Booted to Shore
Surveillance is no joke on a modern-day cruise ship. The hundreds of cameras installed on board are there to protect passengers, of course, but they’re also installed to protect staff and the cruise company itself. And yes, cruise ship employees actually review the footage. It’s simultaneously creepy and comforting. Ah, modernity.
For example, this constant surveillance can be great if a fellow employee is harassing you. If you report harassment to a manager, they will review any and all surveillance footage. If your claims hold water, your creepy coworker will be booted off the ship at the next port and sent home on their own dime.
Yes, They’re Judging You
We’re not going to sugarcoat it. The people who work on a cruise are absolutely, 100% judging you. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Categorizing different “types” of people is just a thing that happens at every service job. Besides, most of the snap judgments made by cruise ship employees are pretty spot-on.
According to a source from “Woman’s Day,” cruise ship staff say there are “3 types of people: Newlyweds, overfeds and soon-to-be-deads." Harsh but true. Cruise ship guests are almost always newlywed couples, families, and older people. So remember to always treat cruise ship staff with respect and kindness. Otherwise, they’ll be sending bad vibes your way the whole trip.
Put a Cork In It
This is a great tip for your next cruise. Not all cruise wait staff may tell you this, but we’re here to spill the beans. Buying an entire bottle of wine with your dinner is way cheaper than drinking by the glass. It’s not even a problem if you don’t want to finish the whole bottle when you buy it.
Simply ask your waiter to save the bottle for you when dinner is done. They cork it and save it for you to drink later. You can even go to an entirely different restaurant on the ship the next evening and mention you have a bottle reserved. The cruise ship staff will be able to get it for you, no questions asked.
Although the crew and passengers of any given cruise ship can get up to some wild shenanigans, it’s not a free-for-all. In fact, many passengers don’t realize how tight the security is on a cruise ship. Each bag is scanned for suspicious items, much like airport security. Before embarkation, the Coast Guard will often bring trained dogs on board to make sure everything is in working order.
Plus, each cruise ship has its own security team. There are no undercover cops or anything on board, but these security teams have authority in international waters. If anyone is caught acting out of line or engaging in illegal activity, they’re thrown in the ship’s jail until they can be transported off the ship.
Get the Travel Insurance
From airborne illness to deaths on the ship, cruise ship employees have seen it all. That’s why so many of them recommend that passengers get travel or cruise insurance. Each cruise has a top-of-the-line medical facility, but your regular insurance likely doesn’t cover any costs that may arise if you need care on the ship.
You could end up paying thousands of dollars in medical bills if you need to make an emergency visit to the cruise ship hospital. Cruise employees really recommend that older guests get travel insurance. You never know what may happen during a cruise, so it’s best to be prepared.
Don’t Be Late
If you’re chronically late to work, being a cruise ship employee might not be for you. The ship waits for no one. If you’re late to your first shift of a cruise journey, the ship will leave without you. Oh, and you’ll also be fired from your job because you couldn’t show up on time.
The same goes for port stops. Employees who are allowed to leave the ship during cruise stops need to make sure they’re back on the boat in time. It’s a fine line of partying, having a great time, and making sure they are as responsible as possible. No one wants to get ditched by a massive cruise ship at a random port in a different country.
At Sea is Preferred
Some cruise stops are only a few hours apart from each other, but cruise ships don’t want you to realize that. If you’re a cruise veteran, you’ve probably realized that the time between two ports can be less than a day away. So why does the ship leave one port at the end of the day, only to float at sea overnight? It seems wildly inefficient, but there’s a sneaky reason captains do this.
Cruise ships make more money when they’re at sea versus when they’re at port. When passengers are docked, they often leave the ship and spend their money elsewhere. When they’re at sea between stops, passengers are stuck spending time and money on the ship.