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Old October 1st, 2010, 03:09 AM
mokihana mokihana is offline
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Join Date: Oct 2010
Posts: 2
Default it's not like being on a cruise

I worked for NCLA for a year, on two different ships.

Yes, they DO hire married couples, but unless one or both of you have a higher position on the ship than the masses, you WILL NOT be housed together. Although they may try to accommodate you as a couple, the ship has a limited number of crew cabins, and even fewer with beds that fit more than one person. Most crew cabins are 2+ bunks to a room. The exception would be for those with higher positions; Restaurant Manager, Housekeeping Manager, etc.

PLEASE DO NOT mistake working on a cruise ship for being on a cruise!!! Most (young) Americans who get jobs on cruise ships think they are going to have a relaxing time and see all the sights, get a tan, have a social life...
Working on a cruise ship is working in hospitality. HOSPITALITY.
You are being paid to provide an "experience". It is NOT a vacation! And those who get on board ships and think of it as so just make more work for those of us who actually understand our jobs.

People are always getting sick, and if your roommate gets Code Brown (diarrhea) they and YOU will be quarantined in your room for 3 days.Together. Someone always has Code Brown.

Crew have their own Mess. It would be WAY too expensive to feed crew the same food as passengers. I'm being nice when I say, "Our food looked like they threw whatever they had in a bucket and stirred it with a big stick." Needless to say everyone loses weight; from the terrible food and all the walking from bow to stern. Sometimes in the evening, we would get leftovers from the passenger buffet like fish fillets or lamb chops, but rarely.
Thankfully, I worked in, and had many friends in, a Specialty Restaurant who would hook me up with decent grub.
Anytime we had off the ship, we ALWAYS went out to eat (and tipped really well).

What you can bring on board is also highly controlled. You CANNOT bring anything that is hot, fresh, alive, etc. Any food items must be "factory sealed". Some people get creative, but it's not really worth it.

Guests treat you like crap. But it is your job to smile, take it, and somehow fix it even though you have no real power.

You are essentially on a hotel, which is run like a small contained city. You will work 60+ hours a week (unless hired for a position above deck, like the few chosen who run the games and daily activities for guests). You will be LUCKY if you get one 1/2 day off a week.

Pay is not great. Though, the higher up you go, the more you get paid. The perk is that you really don't have any expenses, and so could potentially save money.

NCLA has a very high turn-over rate. You will get the opportunity to meet a lot of people. A lot of very different people. And a lot of young kids who have never left their parents' houses and play musical beds every night.
I still have a few good friends from the ship, but most of the other employees were not people I cared to keep in touch with. I was also fortunate to have great roommates.

The best times to get on a cruise ship are if they are moving a ship from one port to another really far away, or bringing out a new ship. I was very fortunate to have been able to bring out a new ship from Germany, to the US Eastern Starboard, through the Panama Canal, Central America, California, and back to Hawaii. I think that was the best part of the job. We even lived in Germany for one month.
Also, being on the fire team was super cool. The Medic and other emergency teams would have been good, too.

So, here's my two cents to people when I hear they want to work on a cruise ship:
It is NOT a vacation.
Have you ever worked in the hospitality field?
Are you willing to work and live with people you don't like for not much pay?
Some people are able to advance rather quickly, but most do not and the bad ones tend to pull the rest down. While on-board, I applied for a position I was overqualified for, which was also within my Degree, and got denied. They gave it to someone without any qualifications, background, experience, education... (but I am happy that he did a good job)
In order for me to move up from my position (I was training my new Manager on their job), I would have had to move down first and fight my way back up instead of being promoted to the title of the job I was already doing (without the pay). But I was exempt from Tips as I was considered "management".
It's a bureaucracy, which works for some.
You do NOT eat the same food as guests.
If you can, try to get a specialty job for fire drills/emergencies.
Most of the crew are kinda nuts, but I guess you have to be a special kind of person to be able to do that kind of work.

I am glad I did it, but I really don't recommend it to anyone unless you REALLY know and are prepared for what you're getting into. Or get an amazing position.
And, unless I had a pretty high position and knew I wouldn't have to mingle too much with the masses, I would NEVER put my marriage/husband through it. Ship life is crazy (like a college dorm on steroids and alcohol). Unlike anything else. If you are going to do it, put a time frame on it, like one contract and then re-evaluate. You don't want to risk your marriage for an experience you could have paid $600 for and walked away still happily married.

Feel free to ask me any questions.
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