6 cruise ships workers dish the dirt on what it's like to work at sea
Whenever I get bored of the city and its breakneck, cutthroat day-to-day, I sometimes like to think of how different my life would be if I were a sailor. No longer would I have to squeeze into a crowded train or bus, with a thousand stresses fighting for my very strained attention. Instead, my boss would be Poseidon himself, and I'd say things like "shiver me timbers", or "hard starboard, me landlubbers!"
It is very possible that I am confusing working at sea with being a pirate, but one demographic who probably wouldn't make that mistake are those who actually work at sea. They recently spilled the beans about a life on the waves via Reddit, and if you're thinking of adopting the nautical lifestyle, maybe you could learn a thing or two.
1. If you can, try not to get fired
"It was the worst job I’ve ever had in my life. Some bullet points: If you get fired, the line I worked for would kick you off on whatever island they docked at next. Sounds fair – but some of these kids had just started working and had no money saved up that could get them home.
"I did not have a single day off during my entire five-month contract, and we worked split shifts: anywhere from 12-17 hours a day. You saw these amazing places from a porthole. I got off the ship like three times. The percentage of people with an STD triples when you compare entry vs. exit tests. Lots’a freakiness. I hooked up with a girl in one bunk while her roomie did the same with my buddy. Lots of drinking."
2. This story does make it does sound kind of great
"Ex cruise ship employee here. We get absolutely plastered below deck. Everyone gets it on all over the ship. My girlfriend at the time and I had a competition with an officer and his lady for the riskiest place to have sex. I thought we had won with the bow of the ship in the middle of the night. Nope.
"He, being an officer, stopped the elevator midway. His lady and him jumped on top of the elevator while it was stopped and proceeded to actually ride the elevator and get it on as guests were getting on and off the elevator beneath them. From what I know, he had a friend of his on the bridge stop the elevator for him, so they could get ‘in position.’ I assume he was also making sure the elevator did not crush them as well.
"Secondly, I was a dancer in the cast on-board, and I had a lot more free time than most, being that all I did was perform in the shows. I do suggest working on ships, for anyone who is curious. It’s a great way to see the world, make lifelong friends, and get laid!! I know many couples who met on a ship and are married with kids now etc. It really sets the stage for a nice fling, or love, depending on where you’re coming from and what you’re ready for.”
3. It sounds like they have more fun than the guests!
"I am a cruise ship worker. First one is, we don’t want you to know that we actually have more fun than the guests. Sure we’ll work the big white hot party that you’re all going to, but once we finish our shift all hell is breaking loose in the crew bar.
"Just below and to the sides of where you are sleeping there are crew members having sex, smoking and drinking. Our beers are $1. No drugs or spirits though.
"We also don’t want you to know that all those funny jokes we tell you at bingo? Yeah…Same ones are said every. Single. Cruise. That really funny answer you gave us about your wife during the happy couples game? Heard it. It was said last cruise and the one before that, and the one before that…
"We are not allowed to have sex with to passengers…But we do know the all the nooks and crannies the cameras don’t reach. There are morgues below deck and a jail cell. We get at least 3 deaths on-board a month. Some people go on a cruise to die."
4. Pass the blunt, sailor
"I had a solid gig playing on a cruise line for a couple summers as a jazz musician. I played with a house quartet every night for three months. Here are some things you may not know about the job: almost EVERY employee smoked weed. When we weren’t performing or sleeping, we were toking like there was no tomorrow, it was a great way to pass the time.
"Disease spreads incredibly fast. There were a couple episodes of a stomach flu taking over the ship. It was so bad I thought we were going to have to get the CDC to disinfect the ship. Overall it was a really fun job for the summer. Pay wasn’t spectacular, but I got to go to awesome places, meet new people, and play nightly gigs."
5. The more you know about cruise ships, the better
"My dad is an Electrical engineer on [one of the largest passenger vessels of all time]. What many people don’t know is that modern cruise ships are often very maneuverable despite their size. My dad’s ship has Azipods and forward bow thrusts, giving it the ability to move in any direction, even side to side and backwards without tug boats.
"Because of this maneuverability, the ship does not have to lower its anchor for short periods of time, it has a system that monitors it’s locations (GPS) and autonomously makes corrections so it will not drift away.
"There is almost no swaying on the ship. It’s gross tonnage is 225,000 tons, so it is rather massive. In rough seas, it can extend fins below the water line that act like wings on airplanes. Gyroscopes monitor for any swaying, and the fins make corrections so the ship is nearly unaffected in even the largest waves."
6. If you can help it, be Canadian
"I worked as a seasonal worker on a cruise ship, and it was super fun. The crew was almost all young, and the bar below deck was incredibly cheap. However, the reason it was so cheap was that most of the staff got paid almost nothing and had to do long stints in order to have their flight paid for.
"I would fly down during holidays for cruises as short as one week and then get flown back. For me it wasn’t that different from being a passenger. I could eat in the same restaurants as the passengers and I also stayed in a normal cabin. We could order room service if we wanted. The parties were fun because everyone was there alone, so you got accepted pretty quick. The down side was the blatant inequality for the staff from the Philippines. They were required to do 8 months work at a time with almost no time off, while I would be flown back and forth for a week simply because I was from Canada."
Well, there you go, folks. Of course, living at sea isn't for everyone (I, for example, am super seasick), but what these stories show you is another side of life outside the city or the countryside. From what I can tell, if you're looking for a way to meet interesting new people and have a ton of fun to boot, then why not be a sailor for a little while?