Travel Stories and Hacks

Answering Your Questions: What Is It Like To Live and Work On A Cruise Ship?

I spent a year of my life living and working on a Cruise Ship. It is very difficult to pin point which stories to tell as they are endless. I realize how incredible of an experience it was and it has been nothing but curiosity to others. I recently asked Instagram users to ask some questions about the job, as it is the best way to share some of the experiences and information for living at sea. Here are some of the best questions and my 100% honest answers…

@jonaleiz: Which cruise line did you work for?

Royal Caribbean. One of the top businesses/companies in the world. Amazing ships and they only continue to add to their fleet.

@a.rodarte_: What is ship life?

Living and working on a cruise ship. It is a wild life style. Traveling, working, partying. It’s like college, but you don’t have to do homework, you get paid, and you party 2x harder.

@msxhannahh: Do you miss Anthem Of The Seas?

I don’t think I would say I miss a specific ship, but I did really enjoy Anthem. It had a lot to do for guests and was very high tech. I also really enjoyed the port being out of New Jersey so I was close to home. Made things easier.

@emilidlprina02: How do you deal with the schedules? Are you able to get off the ship and for how long?

Schedules are wild. You work every single day, and there is really no time limit. It all depends on your job. As I worked with kids, my schedule typically ran from 9-12am, 2-5 pm, and 7-10pm. I also did the spot lights for the shows, stood at the doors to check tickets, greeted guests onto the ship or miserably stood at the pool in the heat of the day. Some nights I worked until 2 am, other days I didn’t work at all. Portzone was never fun, as you work the entire time the ship is in port, but having the rest of the night is relaxing. My managers always did a nice job of dividing the hours up evenly among the team to give us plenty of time to get off the ship. I never missed a port. Sometimes I may have only had 3 hours off, and other days I had 9. It changes each day and each week. It takes awhile to get used to the schedules. Only one thing is for sure, you’re never bored and always on the move.

@jordan_p_drury: What is your worst experience with a guest?

There are too many stories haha. I worked with kids everyday, so I was always under the microscope. In one instance, a kid was “hurt” (but not really) while playing with another kid. The parents immediately suggested it was my fault. I had to spend a lot time with the parents and my manager reviewing the video cameras as they tried to get me fired. 

Another time I had to shut down the “North Star” (pictured above) on Anthem of the Seas. The North Star is a large crane in the form of a glass bubble that raises you high into the sky for a view of the ship. The winds were high, the air was freezing, and the ship was rocking. I had two people in line, count em, two! They were absolutely furious that we were looking out for their safety and were told to shut down. The older man yelled in my face, told me I was “a stupid F**king American”, and that he would find a way to get me fired. As he yelled everything he could think of in my face for about 10 minutes, I stared back in his face smiling and continued to say, “thank you”. Not only did he not get me fired, he made my boss respect me more and trust me in these kinds of situations. From there on out, I was put into way too many situations dealing with disgruntled guests. Thanks, idiot.

The “North Star” on the Anthem of the Seas

@jose_borbolla: Is there such thing as a poop deck?

I would suggest the bathroom if you need to drop a load.

@lauratkar: Does the cruise ship provide protection and do the crew members use it?

There are plenty of condoms for the crew members that they hand out for free in medical. I’m sure most people understand that when you put a bunch of adults together in a tight space for months at a time, things can get a little dirty, especially when there is a party every night. I am not going to speak for other people on if they used protection or not. I would hope so.

@drcortex: Does anyone ever smuggle animals

Nah. But I would have loved if someone had gotten a puppy on board so I could touch its face 24/7

@thelifeofdanna: How is it to live with the same people you work with? Does it get awkward?

It is pure high school drama a lot of the time, but sometimes worse. I wouldn’t say its awkward, but I hardly feel awkward with others. I think its fun to live, work, travel, and party with the same people. However, if you don’t like them or get along, it can definitely be quite the disaster. I was the only guy on a team of 20 girls on my second ship. I am not going to get into details here, but I caused some drama amongst them. I never felt awkward though.

@mattcatinella: Roommates and lack of privacy

If you don’t get along with your roommate, your contract can be ruined. The rooms are so tiny and you are forced to share this hole in a wall with someone you have never been in contact with before. There is hardly any privacy at all unless you have opposite schedules. It is good to become close with your roommate, and your life and experience becomes a lot better. If you have trouble with your roommate, you can try to request a single room, or another roommate you actually do get along with. However, the request is not often granted. I was lucky enough to get a single share when I was having problems with a roommate. Things started to get weird and we needed to have separate rooms. We are still friends though! Just weren’t good for one another in a bunkbed ship cabin. Not getting into details here. He is the one who asked the question. Cant I change my answer form the last question? Yes, it gets awkward…

@connergiels: What was your most favorite thing to do on and off the ship?

Off the ship, was obviously traveling. I did a ton of research for each port so I could see every little thing possible with the time I had. On the ship, I loved to go to shows, eat at the restaurants, hang out with other crew members, look at the stars every night from the helipad and use the really nice gyms. Working wasn’t my favorite, I was there for the experience, not the money.

Watching shows from the rafters

@1albertotamez21: What are you served to eat on the ship?

We have a crew buffet, and it generally sucks. You have to make the best of what they serve you. If you are not in the “crew mess” at the time they serve the food, you will more than likely be out of luck as the “good” stuff always comes out first. We usually eat guest leftovers or whatever they have left to put together from the kitchen. More often than not, I would sneak into the guest areas to eat or bring my own food onto the ship. I couldn’t stand the “crew mess”, other than it being a nice spot to hang out with other people. Although, they did do a nice job of making some good foods for us for the holidays.

@christinamsulli: What is your favorite food on the ship?

I like the guest buffet. There are a lot of options and it was always a massive upgrade from the crew area. The restaurants on the ship were great. Wonderland is an awesome experience as they dress up like Alice in Wonderland while Chops Steak Souse had some really good filets. I always enjoyed Jamie’s Italian as the pastas and charcuteries were great. For the most part, I spent a lot of time taking fresh fruit from the buffets and mixing it with oatmeal, yogurt and peanut butter I snuck on board. To pinpoint my exact favorite food, it was anything off the ship. I spent a lot of time in the Mediterranean, therefore most of my money went towards food anytime I had time off. I always found a way to eat the best food I could. Food is way too important for me.

Eating off the ship in Cozumel, Mexico

@1albertotamez1: Could you eat expensive food for free?

You aren’t supposed to… But I sometimes found a way 😉

@kristenclaykc: Who is really getting my $14.15 in gratuity a day?

If it is going to the waiter/waitress from the restaurants, it is theirs. The gratuity is the majority of the money they are paid. If you’re tipping a team of people like the youth or sports staff, the tips are divided amongst the team members.

@cassaragon: Do you miss working on cruise ships and do you ever think you would like to go back?

Sometimes I miss it, but for the most part no. To me, you never truly get to travel on a cruise ship. I would rather spend days at a time in a country or specific place to have the full on experience and authenticity of the culture. I like the way I travel now a lot more than when I was on the cruise ship. However, I really do miss being able to wake up in a different country without doing any of the work to get there. Being able to explore and travel for free is pretty great too :). It is an incredible money saver. I have thought about doing another contract in the future. I think it would be cool to go back for another 5 month stint, but that is highly unlikely.

@linneapalacioss: Do you recommend working on a cruise ship one year out of college? I love to travel and I’m worried there aren’t a lot of other opportunities to work and travel.

I think that working on a cruise ship is the perfect job right out of college, especially if you love to travel. The college experience is eye opening and an incredible time period of your life in the first place, working on a cruise ship right after can only add to it. In general, it is very difficult for most people to get a good job for months or even years after they finish college. Why not spend that time not only traveling and meeting people, but getting paid to do so? A cruise ship is a great way to travel as everything is free, and you are taken care of with a bed and all of the amenities you need. However, you need to keep in mind. You will work, a lot! I have never worked so much in my life, but it is very rewarding as any time you have off could be in the place of your dreams! The atmosphere on the ship is a lot of fun as well, if you allow it to be. If the work is too much, or not your style, you can always just quit or opt out of your next contract. These companies have a revolving door of workers. Sorry to say it, but everyone is replaceable on a ship.

To answer your second question, there are many ways to get paid and travel. I am doing it right now, but it is a lot harder than having a more stable job and home on a cruise ship. It takes a lot more time, effort and a mind set that can be very difficult for most people. I do think a cruise ship is one of the best opportunities for a traveling job, especially right out of college. Do it! You won’t regret it!

@michelle_reznik: Do you regret it?

Not at all! One of the best experiences of my life. I would recommend it to anyone who wants to travel, but still make money while doing so. It is a really nice job for anyone fresh out of college who wants to travel, but is still searching for what they want to do in the future. Cruising is an awesome way to meet some people that you will become life long friends with, while learning a lot along the way. The free travel is a huge plus too! 😉

Thank you to everyone who asked questions! Brought back some awesome memories answering them! Please feel free to ask more in the comments below and I am very happy to answer! If you haven’t before, check out my other blog post, “Behind the Scenes on a Cruise Ship”… Don’t forget to follow us on Instagram @egtrotters and @travelingle !!!

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