What it's really like to work on a cruise ship

By Chris Kitching for MailOnline

From booze-filled parties to the antics that will get you kicked off the ship, cruise line employees have revealed what life at sea is really like

Current and former cruise ship employees revealed their secrets in a new thread on the website Reddit. Photo / iStock
Current and former cruise ship employees revealed their secrets in a new thread on the website Reddit. Photo / iStock

Cruise ship employees have revealed what it's really like to live and work at sea for months at a time.

In a new thread on the US-based website Reddit, current and former workers lifted the veil on their exploits as they explained what goes on behind closed doors or in plain sight when passengers aren't paying attention.

Anonymous crew members told tales of random hookups with colleagues, booze-fuelled parties, hatred for bosses and

Cruise ship 'hanky panky'

It's no surprise that cruise ship workers become involved in flings or serious relationships, given that they live and work in close quarters for weeks or months on end.

A Reddit user named MirtaGev wrote: "Everyone sleeps with everyone."

Another user, JMPBass, added: "Remember high school, where everyone knew everything about everyone's business? Who was macking 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, it's where we all commiserate and it's our only meat market option."

Hookups with passengers are a no-no

User heapsgoods worked on a cruise ship for three years and revealed they had three friends sent home for sleeping with passengers.

It's a strict no-no for crew members.

Hookups with passengers are a no-no and the food for crew is 'almost inedible', the workers revealed. Photo / iStock
Hookups with passengers are a no-no and the food for crew is 'almost inedible', the workers revealed. Photo / iStock

The Redditor wrote: "Essentially you get busted, you have a masters hearing and you're sent home at the next port (on your dime).

"The cruise companies don't want to be liable for anything and rape accusations are all too real. We aren't allowed to take elevator rides with guests if you're the only two people in it either, for the same reason."

Having your own cabin has its perks

Most employees sleep in shared cabins that are tiny and cramped, but officers tend to have their own rooms. It turns out there are a number of advantages, especially for those who are looking for love.

One user wrote: "If you have a solo room then you might as well write a blank booty cheque.

"Girls (and guys) go crazy over you as you have a solo room. Ugliest guys get prettiest girls if they have a solo room... I should know."

A female crew member said she enjoyed similar "benefits" as an officer, which meant she had a large cabin with a double bed and windows.

Your social life is better at sea than it is on land

Workers said a lot of partying happens when they're at sea or on their down time when the vessel is at port, although not every employee is into that kind of lifestyle.

Employees have access to cheap booze from the crew bar or event discounts at certain bars or restaurants on land.

The food may be bad, but drinks are cheap and plentiful. Photo / iStock
The food may be bad, but drinks are cheap and plentiful. Photo / iStock

Reddit user heapsgoods wrote: "There is a crew only bar, and beers are $1.50. Some ships have a crew only hot tub."

An engineer who worked four months at a time on cruise ships for three years added: "Alcohol (including spirits with my company) was very cheap and you would often find yourself buying drinks for an entire room of people for very little cost.

"I could, as an officer, order room service and there were even some crew cooking in there cabins and selling it to other hungry crew members.

"All in all it's a hard lifestyle to maintain and sleep is limited if you're social and want to go ashore at the same time but in my opinion, totally worth it. If for a few years in any case."

There is no such thing as privacy

User Seastar321, who worked on cruise ships for five years, described the joy of sharing a room with colleagues and working alongside them all day.

They wrote: "Long working hours, very small shared cabin with walls thinner than paper so you can hear everything your neighbours are doing."

User too-tsunami added: "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 & months. That's what ship life is like"

The food for crew is really bad

Several crew members wrote on the thread that the food served to crew is "almost inedible" or "really bad".

Workers also said they had limited options or had to eat food they weren't used to.

A user named too-tsunami wrote: "Food is provided, but the two most common ethnicities on my ship were the Philippines and India, so the crew cafeteria was usually full of food I wasn't used to, like pigtail stew & fish heads. I ate a lot of salad & mashed potatoes on my contracts."

It's not all play

Many employees complained they worked long hours for days on end and didn't get paid what they should have.

Crew members don't always get time to relax. Photo / iStock
Crew members don't always get time to relax. Photo / iStock

A user named teddersman wrote: "Crew members are super hard working and work weeks are 70 hours a week without a single day off for 6-8 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. Came out to roughly $1400 a month after taxes. No one else is taxed besides Americans on board."

Redditor JMPBass, a musician in a cruise ship band, called it the 'jail factor', adding: "You're in a tin can and you can't leave. Some people can never get off in port because their jobs don't allow for it."

It's a great way to see the world

Many people dream of having a job where they get paid while exploring the world. Even though they put in a lot of hours, cruise ship workers take in a lot of the sights.

One of the biggest perks is the ability to see incredible places around the world, including Alaska. Photo / iStock
One of the biggest perks is the ability to see incredible places around the world, including Alaska. Photo / iStock

User Seastar321 wrote: "In five years on cruise ships I literally travelled the world. I basically visited every continent except Antarctica and went to over 75 countries."

Their experiences included a sled dog ride in Alaska, white water rafting in Costa Rica, a day on a luxury yacht in the Caribbean, snorkelling in the Great Barrier Reef and visiting the pyramids of Egypt.

The Redditor added: "None of the bulls*** you have to put up with on board matters compared to that."

There is a class system

User TickleMafia said things are very divided by position.

They wrote: "There is almost a caste system in place with officers at the top, then entertainment, then front-of-house, then the back of house.

"These groups are usually divided by nationality too, so there isn't a lot of interaction between them."

A user named BilliousN added: "Totally depends on which country you come from. My wife and I met working on ships. She's Indonesian, worked 10 month contracts without a day off, 12-14 hours a day... and made about $600 bucks a month.

"Lived in a shared room, ate food that was literally made from the scraps of what passengers didn't eat, never had time to get off ship in port.

"I'm American, worked 4 month contracts, had a solo room, usually worked about 6-10 hours a day, ate with the passengers in the lido, and made around $3000 a month."

Workers don't pay rent (but may have to pay for toilet paper)

Cruise ship employees don't have to pay rent on their cabins, although many are sending money back home to support their families.

User TickleMafia, a musician, wrote: "Paying zero rent or bills is a great deal and I've been incredibly lucky that that is an option, but... the pay is almost always less then what you make on land, and if you lose work on land it can be a wash.

"Some lines also try and suck the crew dry, charging extra for necessities like toilet paper, drinking water or over-charging for internet."

A user named teddersman added: "Wifi was $5 a day for 24 hour access to limited social media apps or $10 for 100 minutes unrestricted. I spent way too much money on the s***** wifi."

- Daily Mail

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