Defining "Good" Managers on Cruise Ships

Nov 28, 2023

Regardless of your company, position, department, or experience, we all agree that profiling the best manager in the cruise ship industry is relatively easy. For many experienced crew members, surely you come across different management styles in your respectful careers on the sea. Unfortunately, it does not happen often that our manager on the ship is good.

But what does it mean "good" anyway? Is that a subjective view of how we see someone? Or is there some pattern of management style to be followed for the "good managers"? Frankly speaking, all managers on the cruise ships are good.

Diverse Management Styles

Some are good only for themselves, taking care only of their position and career progression. Other managers are good for the company because they know how to be strict, to mercilessly terminate hard-working crew members, only to "prove their value" to their shoreside bosses. And a true rarity nowadays, some managers are genuinely good towards the crew, compassionate, empathic leaders who would always find new, innovative ways to inspire and motivate hard-working crew members. Unfortunately, those kinds of managers are unique, like rare diamonds. We don't often get to work with that kind of manager in the cruise ship industry.

Challenges Faced by Good Managers

There are many reasons for that. Let's just say someone really fits into that group of "good managers." Realistically speaking, the modern cruise industry represents the busy, unforgiving, money-making machinery, where "being good" from a company perspective is being the one who makes profit and money.

At what cost, and what are the consequences? Well, nobody cares. As long as you make money for the company and you are bashing everyone who comes your way, you are the best manager for the corporation. There are numerous challenges every single day for those rare managers who follow the fundamental correct management principles and for people who are inspiring many crew members to survive another day on the ship.

Personal Experience at Sea

In my extensive career at sea, I worked with some of the best and some of the worst managers on seven seas. A good manager will always look to understand the crew members. Good managers on the cruise ship will always look at how to make crew members happy because they know the basic rules of the hospitality industry:

HAPPY CREW-HAPPY GUEST

The problem is that many "good managers" whom I worked with for several years had no option but to change and to become the "modeled corporational managers," the one who doesn't see the names of crew members but only their ID numbers.

Most of the managers on the cruise ships would have a shallow perspective about how to excel in their careers as soon as possible. They think that the company will promote them even more quickly if only they terminated the crew members and looked for silly mistakes to fire as many crew members as possible.

On one contract, I was on a six-month training course to become Assistant Manager in my respective department. At first, my motivation to move to management was to try to influence the crew members positively, ease the stress from the crew members, and help the crew achieve their dreams and goals.

The Clash of Values

However, I was taught to do the opposite from the very first day. I used to talk to each crew member to learn about their family back home and their future goals and plans, and I always supported each of them. However, for that "management style," I was only reprimanded by my department manager. He told me that this was wrong because the crew will respect me less if I am nice to them.

He also told me that talking to the crew members was just a waste of time; I needed to focus my energy on improving the sales. Well, my training was never meant to be successfully completed. I could not adjust to those rotten management values, which was my last contract on the cruise ship. I did not want to be part of that system anymore.

If you work in any supervisory or management position in the cruise ship industry, please take care of crew members. Please make a positive difference for your employees; crew members are already far away from their families and working some crazy long hours for 7-10 months.

If you do so, this will all bounce back to you like a boomerang in a positive, rewarding way. Remember that you can make a great difference in someone's experience on the cruise ship. One kind word or one minute extra of listening to someone will create a lasting impact on the crew members. In return, you will gain tremendous respect among the crew members, and more importantly, you will establish yourself as a great leader TO BE FOLLOWED BY MANY OTHERS.