What is working on a cruise ship like? Well, if you're looking for The Love Boat, you'll have to settle for a TV screen. The reality of working on a cruise ship, while not necessarily the hardest of labor, isn't all romance and partying, although employees partake in both, along with a chance to see the world, cheap alcohol, and an environment free from cubicles.
But according to cruise ship employee stories on Reddit, working on the high or low seas (river cruising is a thing, too) also means dealing with lots of drunk people and co-workers, working long hours for months at a time, living in cramped quarters, and eating food that's considerably less gourmet than what onboard guests feast on.
And what is the pay working on a cruise ship? It won't make anyone a millionaire, especially if they're from the US.
These "working on a cruise ship" secrets suggest that as with any job, the daily tasks include highs and lows - but with opportunities for seafaring adventure not available to those with landlubbing 9-to-5 careers.
'There Is Almost A Caste System In Place'
From Redditor /u/TickleMafia:
[T]hings are very divided by position. There is almost a caste system in place with officers at the top, then entertainment (this includes everything from musicians to photographers, and - for some reason the shop workers), then front of house (wait staff and concierge), then back of house (engine room and cleaners). These groups are usually divided by nationality, too, so there isn't a lot of interaction between them. For example, on one of my ships all the officers were Norwegian, all the entertainment was from the English-speaking world, all the front of house was Indian, and all the back of house was Filipino.
As an entertainer that's what I know most, but my experience was vastly different [from] the Indian waiters and the Norwegian officers who mainly kept to themselves. Nearly all of my friends were under the "entertainment" umbrella, so that's what I'm familiar with.
'Relationships Happen Really Fast'
From a former Redditor:
You will never be alone.
Relationships happen really fast.
Your body clock changes.
Grudges can fester.
Everyone higher [in] rank than you is an idiot.
If you have a solo room, then you might as well write a blank booty check.
'If You Don't Find Good Friends... You'll Hate Life In About Two Months'
From Redditor /u/Shynxie:
The best way I could describe it is this: work hard, play hard, work harder, play harder... and do that cycle for almost a year.
If you don't find good friends and things to keep you occupied and happy (that isn't sleeping and drinking), you'll hate life in about two months. I enjoyed my time there, don't wanna go back, but I had a ton of fun, and loved the experience I got from it.
'US Citizens... Aren't Paid Well'
From Redditor /u/MirtaGev:
Everyone sleeps with everyone.
The food for crew is nearly inedible.
You will never find a free washer unless you camp out in the laundry room for a few hours. There are usually about five to 15 washers/dryers, and anywhere from 1,000 to 2,500 crew members.
The rooms are tiny, and your shower curtain will always be trying to get to know you biblically.
[United States] citizens aren't paid [very] well, but some countries, where the conversion rate is really good, make some serious bank. South Africa, especially.
We do get to get off in port and go have a good time. Many ports have crew discounts for food and drink. However, most contracts last for around six to eight months, so after a while, the same old ports every week start to really wear on you.
There is a crew-only bar, and beers are $1.50. Some ships have a crew-only hot tub.