20 Crew Members Talk About What It's Really Like to Work on Cruise Ships
While you’re having a blast on your summer cruise – floating in the pool, sipping on florescent drinks, living it up at the buffet – know that the crew members are having a very different kind of experience and that they’re probably partying harder than you.
Twenty current and former cruise ship employees took to Reddit to open up about their experiences of “ship life,” and it sounds very, very intense.
1. “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 breaks loose in the crew bar.”
2. “You will never be alone. Relationships happen really fast. Your body clock changes. Grudges can fester. Everyone higher rank than you is an idiot.”
3. “You deal with three types of people: Newlyweds, over-feds, and soon-to-be deads.”
4. “Girls (and guys) go crazy over you if you have a solo room.”
5. “The younger kids employees humped like rabbits and drank like fish. Most people would blow every paycheck going nuts at each port and drinking on the cruise ship. The rooms were pretty small, and the vast majority of them were shared. The meals for the crews was pretty bomb, and you could also eat/drink anywhere you wanted on the ship as long as you were off your shift and not in your work clothes.”
6. “We had a saying: ‘Every night is a Friday night, and every morning is a Monday morning.'”
7. “Think of a time you did something embarrassing while drunk at a bar. Now imagine having to see every single person who saw you do that embarrassing drunk thing, every day for months and months. That’s what ship life is like.”
8. “The hours are very long, and the tiny cabins have walls thinner than paper, so you can hear everything your neighbors are doing. The crew food is bloody awful unless you like living on boiled rice. The crew bar is very cheap, but also full of creepy guys hitting on everyone and insanely gorgeous girls sneering at everyone. But none of that matters because in five years on cruise ships, I literally traveled the world. I visited every continent except Antarctica and went to over 75 countries.”
9. “Everyone sleeps with everyone. Clarification: Crew members sleep with crew members. Crew sleeping with passengers is strictly – like, kick you off the next day strictly – forbidden.”
10. “The rooms are tiny, and your shower curtain will always be trying to get to know you biblically.”
11. “The best way I could describe working on a ship is this: Work hard, play hard, work harder, play harder, die a little and do that cycle for almost a year.”
12. “Working for a cruise is either a great way to save money or an awful one. Your lodging and food is paid for, and you’re getting paid, so that’s great. But cruises are boring. Sure, cheap booze and free travel is great for the first little while, but the appeal fades. Wifi is usually anywhere from $5/day to $10/hour, and there is no cell service. So, when you’re not working, you’re trying your best to find anything to do.”
13. “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.”
14. “Crew members are super hard-working, and work weeks are 70 hours a week without a single day off for 6 to 8 months at a time. Most crew members rely on tips for their wages. My position was salaried for $58 a day. I was an officer on board working in the guest services office. It came out to roughly $1400 a month after taxes. No one else is taxed besides Americans on board. Every single day feels like a Monday morning.”
15. “Ship life is basically high school mixed with jail. Remember high school, where everyone knew everything about everyone’s business? Who was hooking up with whom, cheating on so-and-so, doing this-and-that, being a such-and-such? Well, that’s ship life in a nutshell. The bar is where we all congregate and commiserate, and it’s our only meat market option, because sleeping with guests is not tolerated. Now, let’s add in the jail factor – you’re in a tin can, and you can’t leave.”
16. “One of my friends plays in the cruise band. He said he practices like one to two hours a day and then plays a show. So there’s only about four hours of real work. After that, he just drinks at the crew bar and supposedly partakes in orgies or threesomes. He also said there’s no such thing as a ‘dry’ country. You can find somewhere to drink in port, even in strict Islamic countries.”
17. “I was a diving instructor on a cruise ship. The reason I quit was the relationship between the crew and the guests. We were expected to be ghosts. We couldn’t sit anywhere guests were and would have to move if they wanted to come where we were sitting. I’d see them for their dives and not be acknowledged for the rest of the time, except if they wanted something. It’s degrading.”
18. “There are basically 3 to 4 channels on the TVs, and they loop the same movies over and over. So you’ll end up watching a movie in chunks depending on when you turn your TV on, until they switch out the movies.”
19. “If crew are caught sleeping with guests, they’re put off in the next port with a ticket home. That’s the threat at least. I only saw it put into action once.”
20. “We would drink almost every night. I’d wake up in the morning and roll out of bed hungover and be on the job 5 minutes later, looking like death warmed up.”
All posts have been edited from Reddit for length and clarity.