Before working at sea, you’re told nothing but the good things; how you’ll travel, eat glorious food, and make wonderful memories to last you a life time. Granted, you will do all of those things, but it’s not until you start working there that you discover things you never knew existed. Curious to find out what some of those things are? Then here’s a little heads up on the strange things nobody tells you about…
Everyone will know you are the newbie, and some will even know you by name on your very first day
This is due to the fact that crew members are like one giant family; everyone knows everyone as you work together for so long. So if someone knew comes into the mix, it’s a fresh face that everyone can talk about – Word spreads, and by the end of the day you’ll have 50 new best friends.
Sometimes you won’t see land for days
This is expected when crossing the ocean from the UK to the Caribbean, but if you hit a bad patch of weather, sometimes the sea can be far too dangerous to even think about docking. Anchoring off somewhere close by can sometimes be a possibility, but if the swells pick up even that can be a no go.
Even the longest of crew members can get sea sick
You might be absolutely fine for 3-4 months of your contract, and then suddenly on a day that isn’t particularly harsh weather, your stomach will get that awful unsettling feeling. While some try to stock up on sea sickness tablets, I only found that they made me drowsy or worse. Although you won’t want to eat, avoid large amounts of liquids and keep yourself well fed. Eating keeps both your stomach and mind occupied.
You might not have a bedroom window, so your TV becomes one
At least this was the case in my situation. The crew are more often than not living below decks, sleeping below the water. At first you can feel a little claustrophobic, but once you realise how peaceful it is under the water and you don’t hear the waves crashing into you, you’ll sleep like a baby. The cabin TV has a channel that shows a camera of the front of the ship, so you can see if you have docked, what the weather’s like, and plan your clothing.
You shouldn’t let unfamiliar crew members walk you to your cabin
This one is serious; take it from someone who ended up receiving cabin calls at random times throughout the night when you have merely hours before you have to get up for work. A friend of mine also got kindly escorted to her room by someone, who then tried to stay the night. Unwanted attention on board cruise ships is a serious matter – don’t make it easy for them.
Some days you’ll choose to sleep instead of explore
When I first joined sea and saw my cabin mate sleeping rather than going out to drink cocktails in the glorious sunshine, I didn’t grasp why. It wasn’t until about three months in that my sleep finally caught up on me; all work and all play makes for a very tired crew member. Unlike at home, you won’t get time off apart from when the ship is docked, and when you’ve been to that port once or twice before, you’ll appreciate a bit more sleep to get you through your shift later that evening.
There are certain dress codes for passenger decks you have to obide by
For example, it’s a smart evening on board and you have finished work for the day. The cruise ship has advertised its’ dress code in the daily on board paper, but you didn’t get the memo and you’re walking around upstairs in your summer dress and flip flops. Word gets around between the ship’s company who spot you in the wrong thing, and before you know it a ‘polite reminder’ email has been sent to your head of department for appropriate attire. In other words, pay attention or face being banned from passenger quarters for a period of time; nobody wants to eat in the crew mess instead of the passenger buffet.
During the ships’ ‘Red level’, crew are not allowed to spend time on the passenger decks outside of their regular work hours
‘Red level’ is code for the ships’ sanitary state being in poor condition; yellow being moderate and green being fantastic. It normally happens for the first 3-4 days of a cruise during the winter, or if there is an outbreak of illness amongst passengers. This one never made much sense to me. Surely if you’re going to get sick, it’ll happen whatever deck you’re on, whether you’re working or not.
There are Joiners and Leavers parties
Make sure you pack your glad rags, as at least twice a cruise there are crew parties for those newbies and those leaving at the next turnaround. Leavers parties are usually the busiest and most fun, as everyone shows up to say goodbye to familiar faces.
You’ll lose some of your washing
Unless you return to the crews’ public washing machines at the exact time your clothes are done, you might find that some of your underwear/socks go missing. At least that’s the case if you’re female, with tiny frilly knickers. For this reason, a lot of people opt to have them cleaned by housekeeping; for a small fee you can have your clothes washed, ironed, folded and returned to you right to your cabin door.
You’ll hardly use the internet
It’s not that you don’t want to, it’s finding the time, and more often than that it’s finding the money. On board internet can be costly, even at a discounted rate for crew members. So if your family and friends back home think you’ve disappeared off the face of the earth every so often, just assure them you’re alive whenever you find WiFi and explain to them your situation.
So there you have it – Strange things that nobody tells you about starting a job on a Cruise Ship. These are just some of the things that I recalled from my own time spent working at sea. If there is anything I have missed or anything else that you would like to tell others’ about before they start their sea adventure, post a comment below. Every detail helps!
If you’re a travel lover like me, you might also be interested in reading something a little different – take a look at my 10 reasons why you should work at sea post. It’s slightly more uplifting than this post, and should remind you of why you might be considering working at sea in the first place. There are so many good reasons to work at sea, so don’t let this current post frighten you!
If you liked this article and are interested in my blog, follow me below thanks lovelies!