My First Time Experience Working On A Cruise Ship

Feb 04, 2020

I always wondered what it would be like working on a cruise ship. After a few cruises as a passenger, a window finally opened and I was able to experience the crew life on board. A lot has to be done before embarking, many courses to attend and things to prepare. After a safety and security training, there was also the training with the company where they told us they would explain everything that somebody needed to know before embarking. They arranged everything, even the hotel for the people, like me, that came from far away. 

At the moment I thought that the training really did learn us all that we needed to know, but that feeling was soon to be changed. 

After getting the details for the first contract I didn´t know if I was excited or maybe even a little afraid of what to expect. When I arrived at the ship the size of the ship was not a surprise to me since I have been a passenger before embarking as a crew member. The surprise was embarking on the ship and not knowing what to do or where to go and no people to tell you the information you need. 

After standing in the gangway for 15 minutes I finally understood that I had to go into a room where “they would explain everything to us”. After almost 1 hour waiting in the room, it was almost 12 a.m., a nurse walked in. Shortly after the arrival of the nurse, the chief crew housekeeping followed together with the crew purser. 

“Take out the documents and one by one we will call you here”, one of them said.

I didn´t know which documents they meant so I just took out all of them. When they called my name, I went there and I just put all the documents on the table. They looked at me and started laughing. 

„First contract or not? “ the nurse said to me. 

I just laughed a little with them and asked them to just help me understand which documents they needed exactly. The last one to go to was the chief crew housekeeping. The Chief looked at me and started laughing. 

“you are a girl?!” he asked almost shocked. 

I answered positive and then he told me to wait because they thought I was a boy so they had put me in a cabin with a boy. So I waited and waited, until 3 p.m. when finally somebody came back in the room (all the others that embarked with me already left) and gave me a cabin key. They told me it was a temporary cabin and that I would have to change very soon. I asked them if they could show me where the cabin was, but they didn´t have time. So I went outside the room with my luggage and asked the first crew member I found. This nice man helped me to get the luggage to the cabin. Once entered I found out the girl in my cabin was sleeping since she works at night in the housekeeping. So I just left my luggage and decided to find out where to go next. 

Again to a random guy in the hallway I asked them where to find the animation office. Also, he showed me the way. I opened the door but there was nobody there. I decided to go to the staff mess to finally get something to eat when a young man asked if I was the new animator. I answered positive and he told me that he was my new chief and that he wasn´t there at my embarkation because he needed to sleep. I went to the office with him and got a program for the rest of the day. I had to go dress informal that night. Luckily I brought a lot of nice clothes! I went back to the cabin where my cabin mate finally woke up but wasn´t in the mood to talk. I showered and changed my clothes and went back to the office because at 6 p.m. I had to do credit card registration for all the newly embarked. 

The Chief promised me he would meet me in the office, but I waited until 6 p.m. and nobody came. Luckily I knew the ship and decided to go to my place by myself. After having registered more or less 10 credit cards a lady comes to me very angry saying to follow her right away. As it seems, my clothes were no good… Nobody told us before embarking that you cannot go with jeans in the passenger area, but I was wearing jeans. The Lady turned out to be the cruise director and wanted to talk with me and my chief right away. When we went back to the office my Chief told the lady that he informed me about it, but I didn´t listen. I decided not to say to much since I was on board only half a day. 

I went to my cabin and changed again and went back to work. 3 weeks later, after having to find everything out on my own, my Chief came to me and said that one of my colleagues was my mentor since it was my first contract and that I passed my mentorship. When I told him I didn´t even knew I had a mentor he once told me in front of everybody that I already was informed by him about this. It was just my first contract and luckily the chief changed after 2 months onboard. Maybe he was tired since he was on board for 8 months, but let’s just say that my first month on board of the ship has been the most difficult month of my entire life. 

Anyway, it didn´t stop me from embarking again!

This article was written and sent to Crew Center by a former crew member, sharing her personal ship life experience.

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