A day in the life of a Bar Waitress on Cruise Ship

Oct 06, 2019

For the last two months of my first contract as a Bar Waiter during the Antarctica season, I worked in Cafe Bar. It was a mess every day, working from 12 pm till 6 pm. From the moment when I arrive at 12 o'clock in the shift, I spend an hour and a half just clearing up everything from morning tours of coffee and dishes. 

Even the Bar manager asked me to stay in that Bar because I was the only one who managed to get organized and keep everything under control. I was stressed every day, but I had the exact schedule of what was going were. I was so busy that I didn't have time to think or to accidentally rush. I was alone with Barista and if I don't do the job no one else will help or do it for me. It used to be a lot of nostalgic days, I had so much work to do, I never saw any of my colleagues, somehow I just kept quiet and worked, with no one to share a burden of the work. In the evening, a short break from one hour and from 7 pm to 11 pm going to an even faster section to serve wines. 

I had a one-hour break, after all, that for dinner and to get ready for the next assignment - Wine Steward position in the restaurant. I had my own section in the restaurant where I would serve wines that were in the all-inclusive service. 

As soon as the guest booked their cruise everything was free for them, except for some more expensive bottles of wine, some tequilas, whiskeys, and cognacs. They paid if they went shopping onboard and if they decide to take a guided tour somewhere, which had to be booked by the tour manager onboard. 

Everything else was available to them anytime and anywhere. Seabourn had a policy – never say no, always say that everything is available or offer an alternative if a certain item is currently out of stock.  I quickly learned everything about wine and how to present it; I try to present a specific wine that the Sommelier chose for that evening and how to sell as much of it. 

The guests wanted to stand out and to feel special. If we were serving Chardonnay on a specific night they would say “Oh no, not Chardonnay. It doesn’t suit me, do you have Sauvignon Blanc”? 

They would look at me like they are all sommeliers and like we were all together at a wine tasting event. I was not allowed to stay more than three minutes per table because I had ten more tables in my section. There were guests who knew right away what they wanted and those were the people I like the most. They didn’t waste my time and I didn’t have to waste theirs with some stories, but rather I would just prepare their wine and bring it to them. 

Serving wine was more enjoyable than tossing dirty dishes. All in all an extra effort would be the Bar Manager. Who if he saw me at some point I stopped for a second at Coffee Bar, require me to thoroughly wipe the pipe under the sink, which is all the debris and broil; milk, coffee beans, or how I caught a colleague throwing yogurt leftover and musli pieces to the main drain. When I unscrewed that pipe and took off was so stinky for God's sake, and what had accumulated over the months was large debris. I toke handle broomstick, and with some clothes, I pulled out that little horror that had accumulated there. This Bar manager was very fond of cleanliness, he generally craved everything for extra cleaning, I remember once we weren't ready for the "Name Test", a test where we have pictures of passengers and blank to write their last name, which we always kind of copied with guns laid and pass. This time, no one was ready; we hoped Juan from Mexico who just become Bar Manager would look through our fingers. However, he said, "Either everyone will fail the exam or deep cleaning of this room (Theater Show). We had no choice in the next 10 minutes everyone was equipped with something to clean, colleagues brought vacuum cleaners on their backs, masks to protect themselves from dust and other chemicals used by their colleagues, everything looked like a movie “Ghost Busters”. 

The next duty that I had was in at the Club Bar from 11 pm till midnight one floor down to clean the Ice machine with a strong chemical called Lemonize, it was my first time doing it and I hated every moment of it. Some Bar Managers at Seabourn tried their best to make our lives as worst as possible, but there were some good times too, especially with Canada's Sommelier Karen, who regularly gave us a taste of some new wine and even have dinner with us at some corner of Restaurant, some salmon or a good steak.