Millions of people go on cruises every year. I have worked on Royal Caribbean, Carnival and P&O. I’m about to reveal some secrets about how the crew live. The most important thing though is I always felt that a lot of the time the crew had more fun than the guests.
So first of all we all go through a ridiculous amount of safety training within two weeks of starting. We all sign to say what we have learnt and the overal knowledge of the crew is outstanding, you are in safe hands on a cruise ship. That said the people who don’t listen, can’t understand English or are just a bit dim still get signed off the training. I sat next to a French speaking chef on some safety training, there was a test at the end. He struggled to answer even one question, still passed. Scary stuff if this one guy found himself in a situation of responsibility in an emergency.
After the training that really is the boring bit out the way. Most crew work around 300 hours a month. On a sea day I worked in the shops from 8:30am and we left at 11:30pm, some times you may get 7 sea days in a row like that. There are some lucky guys that get a lot of time off. Generally these are the performers. Generally cruise ship staff work insane ours because of course the ship is at sea so work limits are different to that of land.
Of course the crew live on the ship. Where they love depends on the ship but in most cases it’s the two decks on or below the sea level. When you first see your cabin you are amazed how small it is, I swear it’s smaller than a prison cell, and you share with another person. I got lucky with my cabin mate, turned into a great friend of mine. We live here for the length of our contract which could be anywhere between 3 to 6 months.
Now the biggest and by far the scariest thing is how absolutely smashed the crew get at night. Generally drinking on board is very cheap and the parties really are some of the best I’ve ever been to. You may ask what’s so scary about the crew getting drunk. Well each crew member has a very specific job during an emergency, each one as important as another. So if just 15% of the crew are intoxicated and an emergency happens apon the ship there would be a huge mess.
When I say the crew get smashed I truly mean it. Me and my group had night out after night out, sometimes drinking every day of the week and remembering nothing. I woke up once with blood on my pillow, looked in the mirror and I cut my head open. Honest to god no idea how I did it.
There is a secret world on cruise ships that guest will never see, a world of parties, drugs, sex and more parties. The guest are kept well away from what is going on and rightly so. The guests pay to have fun on a cruise yet the real fun is being had by the crew 😉