What's the difference between working on a river ship vs. ocean cruise ship?

May 08, 2019

The work environment on river ships is quite different from the one on the big ocean cruise ships. The differences in itineraries, size of the ships, and passengers capacity also means that the working conditions are unique. So what's the difference between working on a river ship vs. ocean ship? According to the crew member Ranko Miletin, who has worked on ocean cruise ships, and now on river ships, the difference is huge. There are many advantages and benefits for the employees on the river ships, he says. For anyone of you hesitating between working on river ships or ocean liners here is the first-hand experience form a crew member.

  •    These are some pros for river ships crew highlighted by Mr. Miletin:
  •  - The crew gets 2 paid holidays per season and can take also an unpaid holiday.
  •  - Entire day off
  •  - Crew members health care covers an entire year, even when you are at home. Dental care is also covered by the river cruise line.
  •  - Each crew cabin has a porthole (window)
  •  - The food for the crew is way better
  •  - The salary is better on river ships.
  •  - Free High-speed internet for the crew.
  •  - Financial support from the company for crew members with kids

The former Princess Cruises crew member explains how river ships provide a better and healthier work environment for their crew.

How is the work environment on the river ships compared to ocean cruise ships?

The work environment is way much better on river ships. On Ocean liners is way to strict and stressful. Here on river ships, we are having from the beginning of the season training on the opening where they teach us about all things what we need to do. By my company, we have a fish philosophy which means happiness! (Always have fun). For example, we can play music, even when is hard day and we are always trying to give our best! For all this effort we get crew party!

How is the food for the crew on river ships compared to ocean cruise ships?

On a river ship, there are not so many crew, its 45 of us. Here is not like on the ocean liner when we talk about food. We have breakfast, lunch, and dinner all together! There is no separation like crew mess, stuff mess, and officer mess. We all eat together and the food is way much better because we make fresh every day for our crew. 

If we compare crew food on river or ocean I can just say I was not visiting crew mess on ocean because only what is eatable there is plastic apples! Here we have crew from 13 different countries and always cooks are trying to make something that is specific from those countries!

How is the salary on river ships compared to cruise ships?

When we talk about salary! I get more than on ocean line! Doesn't matter from which country u are coming we all have same money, of course, dependent by the department. You get your salary in euros on your account, and weekly or monthly u get your prepaid tips from the guest which can be till 800 euros or more per month. If u have good rating u can get also a bonus per week.

Does the crew working on river ships get a full day off?

Yes, each crew member is entitled on a full day off while working on a river ship. We have day off twice a month or this can be divided into four dinner offs per month. This is something that crew definitely don’t get when working on a cruise ship.

Is the internet free for the crew on river ships?

We all have free wifi on board and we don't need to give a lot of money for internet card like an ocean liner. (And internet really works on river not like on princess cruises)

What other benefits crew on river ships have?

You have paid holiday 2 times per season and u can take also unpaid holiday if u need to fix something at home or if u have some family appointment like a wedding, celebrations or something like that. If u are from Europe u buy tickets for yourself and company give u back the money, if u need to make visa company also give u money back when u bring the bill. I have a Swiss contract and each month the company is paying for my retirement in Switzerland! 

Also if u work on the river depending by the contract if u have kids u are allowed to get 300 Franks per kid! Which is great because this is extra money on salary.

How is the healthcare for the crew on river ships compared to the one you had on a cruise ship?

We all have social Allianz health security which is perfect! U can have it all year even if u are not on the ship. For example, I fix my dental problems and I get all my money back! If u have health problem on the ship u can visit a real doctor not like on ocean line where I get pills with expired dates, and nobody cares about u because you are just a number.

Why do you recommend work on river ships over ocean ships?

I definitely recommend trying working on the river ship, because is way much smaller and healthier environment! People are really helping each other! You are like a small family on the ship! Crew cabins are nicer and we all have windows! We don't share a toilet like on ocean 1 toilet for 4 people. This is not healthy and not so clean! So far in my 5 years on river ship and we didn't have red level like on ocean almost every second month!

If u ask me I will go on ocean cruise line maybe just as a guest but for work no more, because I am a person living person, and I don't wanna be just a number like what they do on ocean.

And all the people who are working there they know what I mean! And I wish them all the best and to stay strong!