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How to deal with an annoying cabin mate?

Submitted by kgnadmin on

The cabin mate on the cruise ship can make such a significant difference when it comes to our life on board. Depending on the person we share our tiny cabin with, it can be a challenging experience. Here are some of my general experiences and honest advice I can share with everyone working on the cruise ship.

Adjust your tolerance level.

We can tolerate our environment on a cruise ship or land, but only to a certain level. However, sometimes we realize that the more we become tolerant, the harder it gets for us, especially when you share the cabin size of a shoe box( 6-7 square meters) with some random person from many different nationalities. It's a miracle how we can adjust to other people and cultural backgrounds. That is the much-needed ability every single crew member must have to survive in the demanding cruise ship environment. We all have different beliefs and experiences; we grew up in totally different circumstances. Yet, we need to come along with each other and maintain a level of respect all the time. Just because some eat different food, have different beliefs, and wear extra clothes does not mean we can not come along with that person.

In my ten years of experience working on cruise ships, I shared a small cabin with crew members from more than 70 countries worldwide. Amazingly, I never had any big issues with my cabin mates. First and most importantly, when people make mistakes that disturb your privacy or your off-time rest on the ship, give them time to correct their actions. If your cabin mate woke you up by slamming the cabin door, do not run to MSA immediately to fill the request for cabin change. Try to talk to the person, ask your cabin mate about it and try to find a solution because sometimes, even if you change your cabin and get a new cabin mate, it does not mean that things will get better. In fact, things could even get worse.

I remember having a roommate that was my paisano. Probably one of the worst cabin mates I ever got. He was not a really friendly person, even though I was trying hard to establish some normal level of daily conversation in our cabin. I would always ask him how his day was at work or how his family was back home, but usually, I would only get blank replies with a maximum of one or two words in response. I wanted to adjust to and respect him, but he did not care. Well, it's hard not to care when you are sharing the smallest cabin in the world with someone. Sooner or later, we have to talk and adjust to each other needs; that is called respect. But in this case, It did not work. I would finish my work in the bar around 02 am, and when I came to my cabin, he was sleeping already because our departments and schedules were different. I would gently open the heavy metal door because those doors had a large magnet; if you let it close too fast, the door would slam and make a loud, unpleasant sound. So I would just open the door softly and come into the cabin on my toes, just to make the minimum sound. I would turn on the small light above the cabin sink and slowly open the cabinet to get my staff.

Also, I would then open another heavy metal door, the shared toilet that we used with another neighbor's cabin. When I shower, I would put on the toothpaste and brush my teeth with the minimum sound, just slowly left and right without much pressure. When I got ready to climb up the ladder going to the upper bed, I removed the upper bed curtain with caution, and just when I took the first step to get in my bed, I could hear my paisano " mumbling o his mount and panting heavily to let me know that he can't sleep. Well, if only I had some superpower to enter my cabin and be in bed in one second, that would be great. But then I was just a human, I needed to shower and brush my teeth, and I have always done respectfully. But my paisano did things differently. In the morning, when he was getting really for work, he would loudly turn on all cabin lights.

He would bang on the toiled door and even sing loudly. He would even use the cabin phone to call his friend and talk for half an hour, knowing I was sleeping in bed. In my case, If I needed to call home, I would buy the $10 phone card and go in the crew corridor between the cabins; I would sit down next to the crew stairways and talk to my family for 1 hour, but certainly not in my cabin when my cabin mate is sleeping. So I kindly told my roommate that I would appreciate it if he could become quieter as I try to rest in my off time. You know how important it is to have a good sleep, especially when you are going to work a long 12 hours ship. Instead of adjusting his behavior slightly, my paisano even got worse. One night when he was off, he brought 3 of his friends, and they started to bang around the cabin, loudly laughing and not showing any care or concern that I was trying to sleep. It was 0430 am when I jumped down from the upper bed, only in my underwear. I just said to them," I know you want to party, and you have the freedom to do it, but you don't care that I am here trying to rest in my cabin. I shouted at them and asked my roommate: " You adjust and learn manners, respect, and care toward others or get your selfish, arrogant ass out of this cabin, now!". He just froze and did not say a word. He only mumbled, " Sssoorry."And they all left the cabin in a rush. I did not intend to scare them away, but I was happy because they deserved it. 

Please do not mistake my kindness for weakness.

Ok, I might be kind and friendly, welcoming easy to adjust, but every glass of water can only take as much water as the size of that glass. When there is too much water, it will overflow. We all have our limits and patience; sometimes, it will be tested, like in my case. I like to put in this saying," Do not mistake my kindness for weakness."

Sadly, most people on the ships and on land are the same. They would often mistake our kindness for weakness. In my case, my babalu cabin mate did exactly that. He took advantage of it just because I was too nice and easy to adjust myself to his needs. I am not saying you should be rude to your cabin mates and expect milk and honey in return. But at the same time, it's all about balance. With people who show care and respect towards us, we should be even nicer to them in return. But for those who would take our kindness for granted, teaching them a lesson occasionally could be a good thing. It costs a lot of energy waste, but sometimes it is unnecessary to protect our integrity.

After I got fed up with my cabin mate for his disrespectful behavior, he stayed in the cabin with me for the next two weeks before he finally signed off and went home. In those two weeks, he was respectful of my privacy and a much different person. Sometimes it has to be like that; that was the only way to learn. If you are stuck with an annoying cabin mate, even changing the cabin could be long and uncertain. If you go to fill up the cabin change request because of an annoying cabin mate, you might be stuck with the delay depending on the cabin availability, and the cabin change could be delayed for weeks or even months. Adjusting our behavior and setting the standard of acceptable cabin behavior is a good way out of uncomfortable situations. And remember, respect is always earned, never given. Be kind, be humble, and always respect others. Have a wonderful contract!

Crew Insights

Articles and experiences shared by crew members working on cruise ship. Find out more about ship life at sea together with tips and advices for first time crew members and cruise oldtimers.