Wednesday, June 25, 2008

FAQ : Getting Jobs Onboard Cruise Ship

Welcome Onboard a Cruise Ship:

All about Crew

Have you ever thought about what it’s like working onboard a cruise ship? Well, crews live below the passenger decks which are another world that we never see or hear about. Before someone become a crew, he/she begins with a long process, from looking for the agency, get hired, training by agency, processing documentation, and the last process is traveling to the ship where he/she work for. It’s really not an easy one. When arriving to the ship, a crew should submit their documentation to the HRO, get uniform, report to the bridge to get the life jacket, report to the infirmary to submit the medical record, and then report to the department head where the crew will get the job description.
Usually a brand new crew get confuse with all of that process, even though they get a welcome letter from Human Resources Officer. Here we give you an opportunity to find out what really goes on down there based on my experiences.
I worked on the Amsterdam, Volendam, Oosterdam, Veendam, Zaandam, Westerdam, Niuw Amsterdam, Statendam, Noordam, on itineraries around Alaska, Caribbean, Europe, World Cruise, Asia-Australia, Mediterranean, South Africa. I’ll tell you the good, the bad and best of my time onboard in FAQ form.

How did i get a job on a cruise ship?

Well, it was not an easy job to get, with great difficulty! I initially applied to the agency, but received very little response. I then did more research and applied personally to the agency in Jakarta in which the agency owned by the company I wanted to work for. Then i applied to an agency in Jakarta that dealt with cruise ship placements, and they quickly found a position that was suitable for me.

What was my position onboard?

I worked as part of the restaurant staff. I worked as a wait staff or dining room steward. Basically my job was serving the guest’s breakfast, lunch, and dinner everyday. Ensuring that the guests are satisfied with the food and service, and of course dealing with any problems that may arise, which they usually did! My first contract was for 12 months in Alaska-Caribbean-Panama Canal, followed by a 4 months break, and then I flew out and joined the Zaandam in the Caribbean. My final contract was on the beautiful Oosterdam in Mexico.

What were my first impressions of life onboard?

Boarding the ship for the first time was very frightening, I remember our coach arriving in the Port of Lauderdale, and seeing the Zaandam. It was the first cruise ship I had ever seen and initially I just thought about how tiny I felt against the 12 decks ship in front of me!Once onboard, it was all very awesome. There was so much to take in and learn, ship safety procedures, destinations on the itineraries and tours offered all had to be learned inside out. Before I left Indonesia, although everyone said it was hard work, I must admit it, I thought my experience would be about seeing the world, the people i’d meet and some work, in that order. At this point, the reality of the work kicked in! I think I had underestimated how much I would be doing and the responsibility I had taken on. Once the passengers arrived, i got very-very busy time and really hard work. I was assigned to work in the lido restaurant for lunch, then having meeting with security officer regarding safety onboard and ship’s tour. After finished working in the lido, I went to my room, get cleaned up, had my dinner and then went to the main dining room or restaurant. When I got there, a must see my table assignment and who’d my partner be. Then I reported to the Maitre’d hotel and prepared the table assigned for me then it good to go. The first seating was start at 05:45 pm and second seating started at 8 pm. First day working onboard is always the worst day and my body so dog-tired. And I did that job everyday for whole year with no day off except I got sick. In average, based on my experience I have to work for 12 until 14 hours a day. And I did that well. What a Superman I guess.

What was my accommodation like?

During my first contract, i shared my cabin with another crew member. The cabin was pretty large, en suite with my own drawers and cupboard space. But sometimes during my contract, i ended up in a top bunk in a much smaller cabin.

Does the accommodation vary depending on job role?

Yes, most of the officers get en suite, they do vary in size. Most of crew share cabin with another crew, usually two persons in one cabin. It depends also if the crew position is an officer or manager, he or she will have en suite cabin, not sharing, and he/she could bring family onboard with term and condition up to the company agreement. All were comfortable and cabins were viewed purely for sleeping in.

What happens at meal times?

Meals are available to crew at 3 set times a day plus supper, with snacks available in between. Food wasn’t bad, although nothing like the guests were being served! In all the ship I’ve been working with, there are two different crew mess which are Petty Officer and Crew Mess room. Petty officer mess was used by the entire officer and other crews using the crew mess. There were major differences for the foods prepared and served for both of that mess room. Petty Officer mess serving American/European foods and crew mess served Asian foods, because most of the crews are Indonesian and Pilipino. In any occasional time such as Independence Day, Ramadan, Eid Al-fitr, or other celebrations, the chef make different meals, which was special menu up to the theme of the celebration.

How many days off did you get each week?

None! There as no day off, most of the crews working everyday with certain hours range from 11.50 hours to 14 hours a day. It so depends on the job though. When I worked in the dining room, I got time off, which is called free lunch, means that I wasn’t signed for lunch duty. But that was not always happens, it depends on the port we visited and time we arrived in the port of call. During my little free time I would be straight off the ship and into the port, or, if it was a place I had already explored I would use the time to do laundry or just relax. There was also a gym, games room and a bar for crew to make use of in free time. We made the most of free evenings with crew parties and other fun events organized by crew welfare, this is when we would often get passengers poking their heads around doors to see where all the fun was really happening!

What was the hardest part of my job…?

Without a doubt, the long hours was hard work, but the job itself was wonderful, I had good days, when customers thanked me for recommending great tours, and bad days, which made being away from home, friends and family so much harder. Each cabin had a telephone and we had calling cards, so there were plenty of opportunities to call home when things weren’t going so good.Having to remain polite when passengers were rude was also very challenging for me!…And the best part?The places you get to see! No other job lets you go kayaking in Dominica one day, then sunbathing in Mexico the next. Working and living with a great group of people means you build close relationships with people from all over the world.


Cruise Job said...

That was a well-written experience. At first, applying for any Cruise Liner Jobs is quite difficult because it needs a lot of hard work and patience for processing your application. However, it's really worth the effort once you started working there. The doors for great opportunities are opened for you like getting travel benefits with a high-salary rate. You can also get a chance to meet and know different people which is enjoying and very challenging..

Caribbean Cruise said...

Interesting post. I was several times in cruises via ECT and it's very interesting about to know about ship team life during the period of the cruise. Good Luck!

Darwin said...


You have a nice blog post here on cruise ship jobs.

Many cruise ship job vacancies come under this 'insider position' tag such as jobs within ice rinks, cinemas, bowling alleys, internet cafes or any other leisure amenities. If the vessel has the feature on board, then it stands to reason that crew will be needed to operate it.

ahmed said...

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Ross said...

Great blog post, it rings true on a lot of things. A nice, honest approach, without being biased to it being unbelievably amazing or terrible!

Anonymous said...

I work for the Pride of America (Hawaii). Cruise jobs are not for all. Unless you want to build a career as a technician or as an officer, cruise jobs are dead. The majority of crew members are kids, college dropouts, even homeless. We work long hours, seven days a week, for 5 months with 1 month unpaid vacation (you have to use your unemployment), that take away the overtime benefit. Yes, you don't pay rent and the food is free also but you cannot do anything else, like a part time or study. Intensive training, lack of privacy, stress and overwork are also part of it. I highly recommend not to take a cruise job and look for better options somewhere else.

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