Do you want to travel the world without having to pay for housing or food? Well, who doesn't? This is why the idea of being a cruise ship worker is so enticing, but there’s a side to cruise ships none of us see. While you’re relaxing by the pool or shoving your face full of all-you-can-eat pizza, there’s someone stuck catering to your every need. Those hand towel animals don’t just appear on your bed out of nowhere!
A cruise ship is essentially a floating hotel, and working in the service and hospitality industry is never easy. Before you decide to fill out a job application and set sail, read on for some behind-the-scenes secrets coming from former cruise workers themselves!
Gavin, a waiter who worked for a major cruise line told Mental Floss that Big Brother is super real. In other words: there are cameras literally everywhere. This is mostly for safety as you’re literally on a giant boat in the middle of the ocean. Though the next Titanic is unlikely, crew members may have to review security footage in the event of an emergency.
“It is safe to assume if you are outside of your cabin you are probably on camera,” Gavin said. “In the event of any kind of emergency, they could pull security footage at any time.”
When you’re away for most of the year and cut off from the rest of the world, it’s way easier to get away with hiding some major secrets. This is why so many cruise workers lead double lives when they’re on the ship. It’s not uncommon for certain couples to have wives at home and a whole different relationship as soon as they set sail. Apparently, marriage vows may not really hold up in international waters.
There have also been reports of gay men who are closeted on land but very open and out-of-the-closet on the ship. Being cut off from the world gives you a chance to be who you want to be, not who you feel you have to be on land.
Forget keeping up with Game of Thrones or your favorite TV programs. If you work on a cruise ship, you’re lucky to keep up with the news in general. As much as it may pain you to not see your favorite team smash next season out of the park, sometimes it’s impossible to tune in. Internet connections at sea are notoriously expensive and unreliable. Often times, you have to catch up when you dock, leaving days between when you get your news and not. For this reason, many cruise workers tend to stop following news, sports, and pop culture altogether.
Crew members don’t want to alarm passengers. Guests are on vacation and don’t need to know about every little emergency – especially if it doesn’t have to do with them. What sort of mass panic would it cause if every passenger suddenly knew there was a small fire on the ship? It’d be hectic! Because of this, crew workers use certain codes that they can announce on a loudspeaker without alarming passengers.
For example: “Code Adam” means a child is missing, “Code Alpha” means there’s a medical emergency, “Code Oscar” means someone fell overboard, and “Code Bravo” means there’s a fire on the ship. Pictured above is a case of a “Code Bravo” when the Star Princess cruise ship caught on fire in the middle of the night in 2006. The fire is thought to have been started with a discarded smoldering cigarette.
Work hard, party hard – this motto holds true for cruise ship workers. When workers aren’t working, they’re probably drinking and partying. In fact, the crew has a special “crew only” bar with insanely cheap liquor. For example, many cruises charge about $15 a drink for guests, but at the crew bar, you can get a cocktail for less than $1.50. The crew definitely party hard, but they’ve got to be careful. Ships sometimes subject employees to random breathalyzer and drug tests, though it’s not always enforced. A former cruise ship worker who spoke to Trend-Chaser let us know just how lax the rules often are.
“The crew isn’t supposed to get drunk pretty much ever,” he said. “Everyone is told they’re not allowed to actually get drunk, but then you go drinking with your HR person and she has four or five drinks.” Apparently, people drink on the job all the time and just fly under-the-radar. As long as you’re not making a spectacle of yourself, you’re probably good to go.