Life On Board a Cruise Ship

The Facts about Life On Board a Cruise Ship


life on board a cruise shipLife on board a cruise ship may shock a lot of people. The images of a lazy life at sea, with days spent on the beach and then the odd bit of work to do every now and then will soon be shattered on the first day you step on board a cruise ship to work. The reality is that life on board a cruise ship is extremely demanding, very stressful at times and incredibly hard work.

For some people, life on board a cruise ship is very short lived. Many fail to adapt to the complete and sudden change of life style. They come from their home wherever it may be in the world and step onto the ship where the living quarters are small (even though many of the new ships are huge) and the working conditions are hard and the hours long. Many leave after their first cruise as their ‘dreams’ of living a luxury life at sea were very quickly and brutally shattered.

But for those that do make it past the first cruise and start to accept their new surroundings they have just started a new life that can be incredibly rewarding and life changing in many ways. The crew on most of the cruise ships come from all over the world. Many of them come from poorer countries such as the Philippines and Indonesia and in their home land it is very difficult for them to find a job that pays enough to give their families a good life. When they come to work at sea they are able to save money and send some back to their families at home and ultimately give them a better quality of life than they could have had if they stayed at home to work.

Life on board a cruise ship – what is required from the crew members


Life on board a cruise ship revolves around one main principle, and that is to ensure the safety of everyone on board. There are literally hundreds of different job titles on board a cruise ship that are filled by over 1200 crew on many of the larger ships. But for all of them, no matter what position and rank they are, safety on board is everybody’s main priority. Regular crew drills are held to drum in safety procedures to all of the crew. They go through different emergency scenarios so they can act out their emergency duties and be ready should there ever be a real emergency.

crew drill

crew drill - training for an emergency

Other than the safety aspects, all crew members and officers are also there to ensure that all the passengers have a wonderful cruise. Excellent guest service is a requirement from all crew on board, and crew are encouraged to be on the lookout for any passengers who may need some help, whether it just be a question that needs answering or help going ashore if required. With the cruise industry as competitive as it is now, all cruise lines are giving extra training to staff to ensure guest service is of the highest standard and that the guests cruise experience is as good as it possibly can be. Each cruise line is looking to gain repeat guests by providing the best service.

Life on board a cruise ship – what are the work conditions like


As mentioned before, there are hundreds of different job titles that are filled by over 1200 crew members in many cases. In order for the ship operation to run smoothly then all crew members must work together as a team and always perform their job to a high standard. This will mean a lot of on-the-job training, regular meetings and implementing new initiatives that come about all the time.

Life on board a cruise ship is very different from life on land, and every crew member is there to work. There are no days off, so crew members work seven days a week. Many work extremely long hours too. It is not unusual for a crew member to work twelve to fifteen hours every day of their contract, and for some their contracts can be up to ten months, sometimes even a year long.

It does depend what department you are in as to what hours you will work. If you work in the Food and Beverage department or the House Keeping department you are more likely to be working the really long twelve to fifteen hour days as mentioned earlier. For many of the other departments it will depend on where the ship is. If the ship is at sea all day then most other departments such as the boutique and casino staff, cruise staff and photographers will all work during the day. If the ship is in port then departments such as the boutiques and casino are not allowed to open, so the staff will not have to work until the ship sails and the shops and casino are allowed to open up for business.

Life on board a cruise ship – living conditions for crew


When you have a very large cruise ship that can hold over three thousand passengers and twelve hundred crew, then you will begin to understand that space is very limited and of course priority goes to the passenger cabins rather than the crews. Unless you have senior officer status on board you will most likely have to share a cabin with somebody else. This can be a little strange for many, but once you learn to adapt to life on board a cruise ship you will learn that this is the norm’ and it will become much easier after a while.

Of course when you work so hard every day on a ship you need somewhere to relax and unwind. Most cruise lines

party in the crew bar

Party in the crew bar

understand and appreciate this and also realize that to get the best out of the crew in their respective work areas they need to have a happy crew so they do provide certain avenues of entertainment.

Most ships will have a crew bar where the crew can go and relax, have a drink and chat with friends. On several of the lines that I have personally worked on there has been a crew club that organizes different events for the crew, whether it be a disco in the crew bar or a tour to one of the beautiful destinations that the ship visits.

You will also be able to eat all of your meals on board the ship. There is a crew mess where they usually serve up different dishes, but this can get a little monotonous after a while. Depending on what department you work in, or what your status is on board you may be allowed to eat in the passenger areas and restaurants. The food here is obviously of high quality and is a nice change from eating in the crew mess. A lot of the crew will eat ashore when they can as they want to get some different food that the local restaurants have to offer.

People will have different reasons for working on a cruise ship. Some will be there so they can provide a better life for their family while others will be there so they can travel the world and see many of the beautiful countries and cities that the ships visit.

Life on board a cruise ship will be very hard work but can be extremely rewarding and allow you to visit places you would only have dreamed of before.