Interview With Seabourn Cruise Line Bartender

Nov 22, 2019

The following article is an interview with a Seabourn crew member describing his personal experience. Find out the process of how to apply for the job, how long it takes to board the ship and the first day at work.

What made you decide to apply for a job on a Cruise ship?

This all started in June 2010. Bored with my job in a hotel, looking at the same car park, same people, same uninteresting life, I decided the sea was the way to go. Daydreaming of waking up in New York sailing past Lady Liberty;

What agency did you use to apply for a job? How was the interview and for what position did you apply?

I got in touch with a group called Ambassador Recruitment. They seemed very interested in me and informed me to be at a certain hotel at a certain date for interview. As I was applying for position of Bar Waiter and this went smoothly. They asked me basic questions of cocktails and wine and within two days they contacted me offering me the position. I then proceeded with a trip to the US embassy for C1D1 Visa and also a Medical (not in the US embassy)! Once this was completed I sent all the documents to Head Office. 

How long did you have to wait before you boarded the ship?

Within the hour they rang me, you have two options….. 1) join a certain ship in 3 weeks in Copenhagen or 2) go on stand by and receive half the pay. I chose option 2 thinking they will never ring me and forget about me. With this mind, I went out on the town Friday night, Saturday night and Sunday day. Woke up to the classic but irritating Nokia Tone (2010 remember) on Monday morning, where Head Office kindly informed me that I will be flying to Athens……. The next day! Oh crap! So what do I need to pack? Who knows! Shoes – white/black, underwear, socks, tooth brush and that’s about it. Next day board the plane and land in Athens.

Were there any specifics about the flights, and did the company agent wait you at the airport? 

On arriving in Athens there was a taxi driver waiting for me. This was before the company became cheap and started using shuttle buses. Greeted the taxi diver and he drove me to a hotel. Again a 5* hotel in the middle of Athens, not some random airport hotel where we will charge you for breakfast bullshit. He informed me he will be back at 5am to bring me to ship in Katakolon, which I thought was a nice local fishing port 25 minutes down the road. 5am came and we drove 4.5 hours cross country to meet the ship in Katakolon. 18 of August in the year of our Lord 2010.

Your first impression of the ship?

Arrive at the gangway and just stood there waiting for someone staring at the ship in amazement. One of the Tour Managers spotted me. I informed her I was joining and she walkie talkie the Crew Purser. I could see the look of puzzlement on Crew Purser's face when she greeted me. No one informed her of my arrival and I was swiftly led aboard the Cruise Ship. Upon entering Crew Purser office I noticed that she was a little under the weather, but looking back now she was definitely hungover! I signed some papers and handed my passport over. She led me to my new accommodation and just left me there. My new roomie was a waiter and he was sleeping after the morning shift. The guy was so upset as he thought he had free cabin. We introduced ourselves and I learned we were already 3 days into the cruise and I joined mid-cruise. Before we could discuss anything else there were 7 short blasts followed by 1 long blast then followed by the words…. For exercise only. 

How was your first day at work?

My first crew drill. Nobody told me or showed me what to do in case of emergency so I just copied everyone else with a life jacket and followed my new roomie to his muster station. Once the drill was over my Bar Manager visited my cabin and brought me around the bars and told me I had induction training at 13.30 on the bridge! I go to the bridge and do training, basically get shown how to use a fire extinguisher. After training, I go do my first shift….. Afternoon Tea. Of course, I show up in the wrong uniform and I get “banana” from a supervisor. In terms of crew language banana is not a fruit, it is not also pleasant. I go change into correct uniform and proceed with the over pretentious, white glove-wearing, scone eating, jam spreading, charade that is Afternoon Tea. After this is over I proceed to crew mess for dinner. Of course I’m the new guy and I stick out like a sore thumb sitting with the Filipinos because I didn’t know crew members sat with their own. After watching the “pares” devour their rice and fish, I go onto my next bar – The Club, were I will work 17.30 to 1.30 am with some wine service in between in the restaurant. I never ran so much in those 8 hours. I never talked so much with guests. Never got shouted at by supervisors so much for basically being useless. But I made it through my first day as a crew member in the bar team. And you know what was my surprise present after waking up the previous morning at 5.30 am, traveling across Greece in a Taxi, surviving Afternoon Tea, Crew Mess, Wine Service and finishing late in The Club... Induction Training number 2 at 9am.

The hardest and the best moments while onboard?

This lifestyle isn’t suited for most. As you read from my first line you have to be a little crazy, a little mad in the head to do it. For 9 years I have breathed this life and I don’t regret any of it. The people you meet, the stories to tell, the memories you will make will last you a lifetime. You will see a lot of the world if you make time in your day and are not IPM. You will work your ass off and still get shouted at by your supervisor. You will go to crew bar even though you swore to yourself you were never going near the place ever again. You are going to eat rice for 80% of your meals and you will spend half your wages on Internet. 

All for something that normal people will never comprehend and never experience. Working on a ship in close proximity of hundreds and hundreds of other crew members you tend to meet people that will change your life in a good way or sometimes a bad way. For me it was a good change. I met my wife. We worked together for a few months and quickly became friends. We had the same attitude towards work which was get the job done, finish, and have a beer. 

When people ask us how we met I tell them this story...

I was working behind a bar and I notice that I had a new bar waiter scheduled to work for tea time. I never met her before but she already did 2 contracts on one of our sister ships. At 4 pm my future wife showed up on time and already full of attitude, I could hear her ask other waiters who’s the Bar Tender, is he an asshole, why am I here. I introduced myself and gave her a section to take care of. I proceed back to bar to finish my set up, I looked up and our eyes locked on to each other. She had this little faint smirk on the side of her mouth and she asked me “May I order”. I look at her thinking what can she possibly order at the bar as its Afternoon Tea and all the teas and hot water is in the pantry. “yes you may order”. Our eyes are still locked together and she says Mojito. 

I don’t know if this will be in the children’s section one day so I won't tell you what I was thinking, but it wasn’t good. But little did I know our first encounter created this spark, a spark that ignited 5 years of happiness and love which also we have been blessed with our baby daughter.

People ask me what is your favorite port, what is your favorite place in the world. I have seen many beautiful countries over the years, but the one that grabs me is Kotor in Montenegro. That sail in the morning, that scenery, the people, the island with the church on it, the fortress everything about this place screams stop. And that’s what you do when you arrive here, you stop and admire the laid back-ness, the way of life, the way time just stops. I have been lucky to visit this Port every year for the past 8 years. I have even climbed the fortress which is no small feat.

But you know where a crew members favorite port is anywhere off the ship that has ice cold beer, great cheap food, and free WiFi. This is the holy trinity that makes up a good port.

These were some of the best moments in that contract, moments that created friendships, moments that created memories, moments that also created drunken messes. I will never forget the hangovers or the conversations that were held.