What it’s like from the other side of the crew bar? A Bartender’s Point of View

Feb 15, 2020

For each one of the bar personnel it is always the game not to go to work in the crew bar during your contract. If working with passengers is sometimes difficult, working in the crew bar can be even more challenging. Almost everybody that enters the crew bar has to go to work, this means they want fast service. Sometimes I even feel that crew members respect me less than passengers, but maybe this is just a feeling. 

Imagine a crew member that just had dinner and only 10 minutes before starting again to work. He wants to drink an espresso after dinner and maybe even smoke a cigarette. All of that has to been done in 10 minutes' time. He enters in the crew bar and there I am, already serving 5 other crew members that want coffee. This crew member tells me he needs to go to work, but all of them have to go to work. Being a bartender in the crew bar is really not that easy. 

The rule for all crew members normally is, no table service and you clean up your mess after you go away, but this almost never happens.

cruise ship crew sign in crew bar

I spend more time on cleaning the crew bar than on pouring drinks for the crew. I don´t know why it is so hard to just take your can and throw it away on your way out (yes that´s right, the bins are always next to the exit!). Then there is the closing time, normally around 1 or 2 a.m. depending on the rules that the captain together with the hotel director made. For 1 hour before closing time normally I have nothing to do, the crew members are sitting down and enjoying their drinks while I start cleaning everything so that in the morning everything is nice and clean when I arrive. In the beginning, I closed the gate at the time I needed to officially close, but I learned very soon that was not the best idea. As soon as you start closing the gate, many crew members (after sitting down for 1 hour relaxing) get up with their crew pass in their hands to get anyway some drinks because after that I was gone. That meant that I had to stay more or less half an hour extra to give the crew members their last drinks. After a few days, I decided to close the gate half an hour before closing time and it actually worked! All the crew members stood up to get their last drinks and I was able to go at the official closing time! Luckily this was the only contract I had to be in the crew bar. 

Normally as a bartender, you go to the crew bar when the bar manager or the guests are not happy with the service you offer in the passenger area.

For example, if you have difficulties smiling to the guests, a nice solution is putting you in the crew bar, where the guests don´t see you. Maybe you did something wrong during your contract than the crew bar is like a sort of punishment. With me, this was not the case. After 3 months that a friend of mine had to be the bartender in the crew bar without any reason (the reason was they had nobody to put….) I asked the bar manager if I could switch places with him because I felt sorry for him. 

There are also positive things about being in the crew bar. Normally the crew understands you better, so if you do not smile one day or you look tired, they won´t criticize you because of it. 

They understand how hard it is to work on a ship. Also you will know many more crew members working there. Normally as a Filipino, the Europeans do not really look at me, but when you work in the crew bar, you are more important to them. Because they think if they are nice to you, you will give them faster service. The only thing is; I don´t forget the way I was treated by everybody before becoming the bartender of the crew bar. I got to see my friends much more because between their shifts they hang out in the crew bar, so I could speak and joke with them if I didn´t have many customers. 

After all working in the crew bar is a nice experience, but I wouldn´t recommend to do it longer than 1 month, because it gets really hard. After 1 month it was nice to be around the passengers again since they were on holiday and didn´t mind waiting 5 minutes for their espresso!

This article was sent to Crew Center by a cruise ship crew member shearing his personal view and experience about the life and work on a cruise ship.

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