Crew Stories: Free Service of Bar Stewards for Captains Circle Members

Nov 26, 2019

Different guests class are best seen in the Captain’s Welcome Party. This would be a complimentary service and all of the bar stewards that are involved would work for the next hour for free because earning money in Princess Cruises as Bar steward was from the sale of the drink on every check 15% would be our part of earning money for that Cruise segment. 

For this party, all the Elite Club members are invited and those are passengers who have more than 2.000 days spent onboard and on the seas. These are people who know everything and they mostly stay in small groups. They know all the most important people on board, they dress in a more elegant way in order to be noticed by other passengers and they know all the tricks on how to get something for free. That is one of their favorite things and it really gives them a feeling of importance, like they won or conquered something and that makes them better than everyone else. 

They really try to make the other passengers jealous because they are not sure how to reach that “level”. The Captain’s Welcome Party is usually in the first five days of the cruise. Selected passengers get invitations to meet the Captain and his officers. 

Of course, all the department managers are there as well – Bar, Restaurant, Housekeeping, Reception and the Cruise director with all the musicians and entertainers. It’s their job to be there for the guests. The dress code is formal and everyone looks like they are going to a wedding or New Year’s Eve party. We (bar and restaurant crew members) have to put on more formal shirts and white gloves when we use to serve drinks. The female crew members are encouraged to put a bit of makeup while the males have to make a hairstyle and wear perfectly clean uniforms. 

The party is held in the entertainment area and it looks like a theatre room, with very cozy seats. 

The officers and managers welcome and greet guests at the entrance, while the rest of us stay at the sides with treys full of drinks. We have to wait for the guests to take their seats and then we start serving them. 

These parties were chaotic during the World cruise because most guests wanted premium brands of (whiskey, vodka, cognac, etc.) so we have to run to the bar and get them. Most guests try to look nice and classy but not all of them. There was one woman who ordered a glass of wine from every bar steward and she got ten of them. She drank three of them right away while six of them went into a plastic cup that she hid in her jacket. I saw that with my own eyes. She brought the last glass to the restaurant so she would have a drink during dinner. The others had up to three Martinis, Mojitos and a lot of other cocktails who were not fast to be made. Everyone would order double drinks at a time and the entire night was like a circus. Most of the servers would start arguing while waiting for the bartender to make the drinks. 

The Supervisor would follow us and tell us not to use the premium drinks but rather those that were on the trays. For this night young and new Supervisor was so unorganized, nothing was prepared enough in front, glasses of wine or cocktails that were mixed for the party; Cosmopolitan, Gimlet, Rum Punch…

It was absolute chaos that lasted for 45 minutes and it was quite a battle. The only good thing is that you recognize some of the frequent and regular guests that you serve in other bars, and if you pay a little bit more attention to them they will be generous with the tips. 

The most important thing to do while working on cruise ships is to seize every moment to earn as much as you can. Because money is the only reason why people chose to work on cruise ships. One thing that is characteristic onboard Princess cruise ships is that all the duties that are performed for free and that you don’t register on your server number are done by people from former Yugoslavia like for example English pub lunch or Captain’s Circle party. Sometimes there are people for Ukraine or Peru who do these things, but mostly Serbians and Bosnians do them.

Pub Lunch

For that event, we served “English style” food including Fish and chips, Steak and kidney pie, Bangers and mash, Ploughman’s lunch, Prawns and ships and Scotch egg. There were also several types of bear including Bass Pale and Boddingtons as well as other drinks. We would wear additional uniforms – a big apron with pockets and we would spend the next three hours serving guests. A lot of people would show up for this event so we had to be quick and organize everything on our own. 

There was always food left so the good thing is that we could take it for ourselves and eat it together in some corner of the restaurant. At least some reward for all the free hard work.