This post is part of a blog series about life at sea. Before you get stuck in, be sure to read the Introduction post. This explains some background information and what the series will entail, so that you know what more there is to look forward to!
There is something I should quickly explain about life at sea. Whatever job role you have on board is like no other job you’ll encounter. Each day is different, depending on a variety of things; if you’re at land that day, out in the ocean all day (otherwise known as a ‘sea day’), where you are in the world, who you’re with, and how long you’ve been working there. With all of these circumstances taken into consideration, no day at sea is quite the same, making it difficult to give a true definition of a ‘day in the life of’ any crew member.
In order to give you an idea of a typical day, questions will be answered with a range of tasks that get carried out on a Sea Day and Land Day separately. For those of you who are interested in finding out about other job roles on board, I aim to follow this post on with more insight into some of my friends’ roles, so stay tuned!
For this post, I asked my friend Ashleen to give me the inside scoop on life as an on board Shop Assistant. Before we get started, I’d just like to say a massive thank you to her, for sharing this part of her life with us all. It’s fascinating to hear what the different job roles entail on board, and I imagine that the life of a ‘Shoppie’ (On board nickname) will be very much sought after, following this post!
Now without further ado…
A day in the life of a Cruise Ship Shop Assistant
So Ashleen, tell us a little bit about a typical Sea day…
‘For Shoppies, a typical sea day starts at 8:45am. We gather outside the shops and the Manager takes us in to have a team meeting before we open. We normally discuss the days promo, what the target is for the day and any other events we have going on throughout the day e.g. Champagne shopping 15% of cigarettes and alcohol. There are kind of two different parts to the shops; one being the actual shops themselves, the other being the promo tables. At opening all the promo tables are taken out into the atrium, manned by the promo team who sell whatever is on promotion that day.’
‘Throughout a sea day we get 2 separate 1 hour breaks one in the morning and one in the eve pretty much always used for a nap and a quick bite to eat! Shops close at 10 but the next days promo needs to be set up before we leave so normally we leave around 10:30-10:45pm after a quick team meeting discussing the days trade! Once that’s all done and dusted it’s time to hit the crew bar!’
Sounds like you’re pretty busy on Sea days!
So what’s expected on a typical Land day?
‘The shops on board are duty free, so when we dock at a port the shops are not allowed to open. Free time for the Shoppies which is pretty much envied by every other department on board! We’re mostly free to get off and do what we want, with the exception of IPM days; for the Shoppie team this normally falls in and around every 4-5 ports.’
‘Port days are the reason we are all there. My port days were spent watching the northern lights in Norway, swimming with turtles in Barbados, or getting burnt on a beach in Spain! Haha! On a port day, Shoppies begin work 15 mins after all on board is announced. The shops cannot open until the ship has pulled away from the port. We work until 11pm normally with a half hour break. By the time set up for the next day is done it’s 11:30-11:45pm, and we’re off to the crew bar again!’
Port days sound great!
What about time off on board?
‘You can earn evenings off by hitting target. If we manage to hit target the Manager will organise nights which we can have off. We split into groups, and each group takes turns to have the night off. People do all sorts; relax in their cabin, have an early night to catch up on much needed sleep, etc. Most people head for dinner in the on board restaurant, watch a show and have a few cocktails.’
Lastly, how long does a Shop Assistants’ contract last?
‘A Shoppies’ contract will normally last 6 months, with the option of possibly extending for up to 2 months. There can be anything from 2 weeks to a 3 month break between contracts, depending on the ship you’ve asked to be on next, and availability.’
So there you have it – a typical land and sea day in the life of a Cruise Ship Shop Assistant. Both Ashleen and I hope that this inside information proves useful to you; hopefully it will even inspire some of you to join sea for yourselves! Each job has its’ rewards and drawbacks, but it’s more than worth it; working at sea is the adventure of a lifetime.
If you liked this post and would like a travel piece to read before the next post in the series is out, why not try the previous post A day in the life of a Cruise Ship Photographer. There’s also one called 10 things every Cruise Ship worker needs to pack before their first adventure – Something to help if you’re considering starting a life at sea. Lastly, I’ve linked a few of my social media accounts below, if you would like to stay updated on the series. I look forward to sharing more with you!