In Port Manning On A Cruise Ship

Mar 28, 2023

There are several policies and safety protocols to follow when you work on a cruise ship. One of those is called in port manning. 

This term does not raise higher the endorphin hormone among the crew members at all... Port manning is made to ensure an adequate number of crew members stay on board in case of emergency while the ship is docked in the port. In my own experience with the company I have worked for, I was port manning seven days in a month time on average. For example, if the ship is setting sail on a seven days journey from Port Canaveral, there would be four cruises in a month. Every fourth cruise was my turn to stay on the ship for seven days(meaning I could not go outside of the ship for seven days).

Sometimes it was really hard. Depending on your working schedule, it happened to me that on the week when I was supposed to be free to go out, I was assigned to be port manning. It gets even more complicated when the crew members urgently need to get off the ship and send money back home through the Money Gram, Western Union, or Ria Transfers. Those offices were usually located just outside of the ship, in the port terminal, only a few minutes walking distance. Yet, even if it was nearby if you were port manning, you could not get off the ship. When I was assigned port manning the night before the ship arrived in the home port, I needed to place my ship ID in the manager's office. The management team would exchange our IDs with the emergency cards and instructions for the port manning crew on what to do in case of emergency while the ship is docked in the port. Theoretically, we could swap our IDs with other crew members, not on the port manning list. But that was categorized as a huge favor from fellow crew members; some even asked for money. If you are port manning and want to go outside urgently, you need to find another crew member (only from your working department) willing to lend you their ID so that you can go outside. That scenario was complicated because two crew members could never exchange their ship IDs on their own. The assistant manager was the only one eligible to execute that exchange. It was hard for the assistant manager because sometimes he would need to explain to the staff captain if the exchange was not done as per the procedure. There were cases when crew members would swap IDs to go outside, and then the IDs would even get lost somewhere.

The assistant bar manager preferred to deal with something else other than that, the millions of other jobs that he had to do more urgently, so if you ask him for it... Let's say he might give you back some hard time in the upcoming days.

My colleagues were actually making money out of it. They were charging $10 per day to borrow the ID from someone. It was just an internal agreement between fellow crew members, so it was allowed to do it.

During the ten years on the cruise ship, I never borrowed an ID from someone to be able to go outside on the days when I was port manning. On the other hand, thousands of times, I gave away my ID to anyone who asked for it(I did not charge $10), I knew that some people needed urgently to go out to buy some toiletries or to send money back home, so I was happy to help. There are plenty of things to do if you cannot get off the ship due to the port manning rule. Here are some activities that I recommend. 

1. Do your laundry. If you are stuck on the ship and on the port manning list, this is the most efficient time spent. Laundry machines and dryers are not really busy during the port days(depending on the port), and you could utilize your time on board to wash your laundry, iron your clothes and prepare to look neat and professional for your work. Generally speaking, the laundry area is always busy on the sea day(because all crew members are on board), so if you are port manning and unable to get off the ship in the port, this is the best thing to do.

2. Go to the gym. You can combine laundry usage and going to the gym to make your time even more efficient. This is the best and the smartest way to spend your time if you are in port manning because you are doing two things at once. Here is what I used to do when I was in port manning. I would bring my laundry and chuck it into one of the washing machines. The washing cycle usually takes around 80 minutes to wash the clothes and work the uniform. Instead of waiting in the laundry area, I would run into the gym and do some workouts for those 60 minutes. Depending on my goals and fitness levels, I would often do cardio training on the treadmill, bench press, or whatever makes me feel comfortable. After 60 minutes, I would go down to take my clothes out of the laundry machine and transfer them to the clothes dryer machine. It would usually take around 30 minutes to dry the clothes. As soon as I transferred my clothes to the dryer, I would go back to the gym to continue the last part of my workout; usually, some were stretching and relaxing part of the exercise. By the time I finish my 90-minute workout, the clothes are washed and dried up, and I would spend another 30 minutes ironing my uniform for the upcoming work. That is efficient time spent on the days when you are assigned to be on the port manning list. 

3. Take a good rest and read some good books. When you are off duty in the port and on the port manning list, you can use that time for a few extra hours of sleep. That would fuel your energy and prepare your body for a long, exhausting working schedule. You can also invest your free time in reading some good books. Reading is very important, as you invest in your personal development. The money comes and goes, but when we read, we invest in ourselves to become smarter, more decisive, and more determined. Reading has also become a very good habit, so you will definitely enjoy its huge benefits. 

Definitely, if you are on the port manning list, there are many things you can do to utilize your time off efficiently and remain productive while living on board the cruise ships.