Behind the glamour and excitement of every cruise ship stands a diligent crew, making sure that everything goes smoothly while you’re sailing the open seas. While most passengers think that these guys must feel lucky to be working on a cruise ship, the reality is often too unsightly to look at. Well, the biggest cruise lines may actually offer a slightly better working environment with bonuses and more days off. However, most workers on ships still feel exhausted, underpaid and quite unhappy in life.
For instance, did you know that most of them work over 12 hours a day without a day off for months? Well, it turns out that you know nothing about these cruise ships and voyages. But today, you’re going to find out what really goes on behind the scenes.
From less expensive meals for the crew to jail cells below deck, today we’ll try to sneak you into the world’s biggest cruise ships and see what they are all about.
Believe us - even the most regular travelers will be excited to unveil the captain’s best-kept secrets. Now go ahead and browse through our unique list of 22 facts you didn’t know about these cruises.
22 Docking The Ship Miles Away From The Best Tourist Attractions Could Be On Purpose
Taking a cruise is quite a wonderful experience unless you realize that you're miles away from the best tourist attractions. What on earth is going on? How are you going to explore these places in only a few hours? Well, it turns out that most captains usually avoid docking the ship super close to a city's top-rated attractions. Simply put, it ends up being quite expensive for the cruise company that's probably trying to save more fuel. For example, if you want to sail in Vienna, Austria, the ship will eventually dock somewhere near Schwedenplatz (Sweden square). There you go – now you’ve got fewer things to worry about when sailing the open sea.
21 You Can Only Tip Your Server In Cash
Another little-known fact about such cruises is that the ship crew usually works 12 hours a day with an absolutely no day-off for at least ten months straight. We bet that you didn’t know that, did you? There’s a whole lot of Reddit users that often shed light on such disturbing practices that usually happen on such cruises. Also, it turns out that the crew can only receive tips in cash. So, if a passenger decides to express their satisfaction with their server by leaving a generous tip, it should be in cash. Otherwise, the server won’t be able to benefit from it. For the most part, ship servers don’t get any tips when the client pays for their meals with a credit card.
20 The Crew Uses Codes To Address Critical Moments
Whether there’s a technical issue with the ship or a medical emergency that needs urgent attention, the staff on the ship won’t really make it known to the passengers, and that’s the usual practice. But they will absolutely address the critical situation by using special codes over the tannoy system. Basically, this is how they communicate with one another when there’s an emergency going on. For instance, one of the most famous codes that you might have heard in the movies is “bright star.” So, if you happen to hear it over the tannoy system, you'll know that something is happening.
19 The Crew Gets Better Deals On Food & Beverages Than You Do
There’s hardly a person that hasn’t wondered what life really is for those who work on cruise ships. Do they love their job or do they just put their Happy Face mask on when serving their excited travelers? Well, it could be both. But for the most part, crew members can take advantage of a wide array of things onboard, including better deals on beverages. Of course, they’re still required to keep it all at a bare minimum, but they still have a lot of fun at the bar. Besides, every ship has got at least a few secret nooks only the captain and crew know about. Here’s what a former crew member has shared on Reddit: “Once we finish our shift, all hell is breaking loose at the crew bar."
18 Falling Overboard Is A Real Thing On Cruises
Falling overboard is, without a doubt, quite a freakish thought that will instantly make the hair stand up on the back of your neck; however, it’s not only a bold idea but an unpleasant reality for a lot of passengers. Apparently, cruise ship accidents are just as real as me and you, and it happens more often than you can ever imagine. According to another Reddit user, who worked for a famous cruise line, tourists often make the mistake to rest their hand on the railing.
“Once we had a production singer who thought it’d be a great idea to do a handstand on the railing and he fell over, and we spent hours looking for him and was never to be seen again."
17 Don't Build Your Hopes Up Over The Itinerary
Travelers often get overly excited and optimistic about the dream holiday that awaits them just around the corner; however, not being realistic with the itinerary can absolutely ruin their otherwise lovely expectations about the trip. With such cruises, it could even get twice as challenging to get to a specific port on your itinerary, especially when the weather has suddenly worsened. Here’s a tip on how to “read” the captain’s mysterious and sudden decisions to skip a few ports marked on your itinerary.
“Even if some locations are absolutely listed on that itinerary, there are times when the weather just doesn't allow us to get into that port.”
16 No Cruise Line Is Able To Protect You All The Time
Just because you’re on a luxury cruise ship, richly packed with all the extras you’ve always wanted, doesn’t mean that the staff crew is your Guardian Angel. Similarly to any other travel industry, fatal accidents could happen onboard, and when they do, there’s only a limited number of things the crew can do to help you. Some elderly passengers take such cruises because they want to spend their last days on the ship. Eventually, they even request burial at sea. Another disturbing thought is that most ships – even the most luxurious ones – have got morgues below deck alongside a jail cell.
15 Keep An Eye Out For Your Luggage
Alright, you’ve just hopped aboard this exclusively beautiful cruise ship, and you wonder whether your three suitcases will remain intact while you’re enjoying every second of this journey. Well, we’re genuinely sorry to break your heart like this, but luggage often gets lost on such long cruises. But what if your suitcases fell into the water while being loaded onto the ship? And what if all of your belongings disappeared? Unfortunately, even the best and most reliable cruise line cannot guarantee you anything. On top of all, most cruise companies aren't willing to compensate their passengers with a satisfactory refund for their troubles.
14 The Staff Members Often Sleep In Shared Rooms
If you ever happen to be on a cruise ship, you’ll probably be shocked to learn that the crew members often sleep in such awful cabins. Indeed, there's nothing worse than sharing your room and space with strangers. Actually, the high-ranked staff usually gets much brighter and comfortable rooms, which instantly makes them more attractive to their colleagues. So, if a crew member "accidentally” puts the word out that they’ve got a solo room, the others will most certainly seek them out in the crew bar. Ultimately, their job is hard enough, so it’d be so much better if they had a solo room where they could calm their nerves.
13 Delays Could Be Beneficial To The Captain
If you’ve ever tried to think of a rational reason why most cruise ships regularly fall behind schedule, then there it is. Apparently, it’s in your captain’s favor to arrive late and here’s why. First of all, the captain of the cruise ship earns points for saving fuel; and secondly, such fuel efficiency could only mean one thing – there would be more bonuses for the captain when the journey is finally over. Every time the ship leaves or arrives a bit earlier or even later, it practically means that the vessel can sail across the ocean without using that much fuel.
12 The Staff Members Are Watching You - Don't Try To Play Tricks On Them
You cannot pull the wools over their eyes and pretend that you weren’t smoking in the corridor when they clearly saw you. Take it from the cabin crew and the captain himself: whatever you’re doing on the ship, do not assume that you’re all by yourself. Of course, it doesn’t mean that you'll be robbed of your privacy; however, passengers rarely realize just how many cameras there are on their lovely cruise ship. So, if you do something that’s against the rules, just be nice and apologize for your mistake instead of denying it. After all, you are almost never truly alone unless you’re in your own cabin, of course.
11 Crew Members Don't Always Take Drug Tests
Another curious fact that will surely have you falling out of your seat is that crew members rarely take a physical examination before going to work. Similarly to any other job, workers are supposed to show up in a perfectly normal physical and mental state – meaning that they need to take random tests to prove their sobriety on the job. Not only do they usually have to take such a physical examination, but they also must prove to be reliable and responsible for the job. However, it also seems that not every cruise ship has got the resources to make it happen before setting sail.
10 Sometimes The Crew Plays Little Tricks On Random Passengers
While the staff members have to be nothing but professional, helpful and understanding at work, there are also moments when they too want to have some fun. Of course, they’d never cross the line of morality and offend a passenger; however, they do enjoy playing little and harmless tricks on the most excited travelers. According to Reddit, there was a ship worker – probably a server – who would often mess around with the passengers by suggesting that the crew has got a bowling alley and much more extras in their quarters than what the travelers usually pay for.
9 Sometimes Passengers End Up Having Funny Nicknames
Now that’s something you’ve never considered before...or have you? Well, evidently, this is yet another juicy secret that only the captain and the crew are familiar with. Most passengers get funny nicknames, so you can imagine how many inside jokes they’ve got about their high-profile costumers. One of the most famous nicknames that the crew uses for the passengers is “cones.” People onboard rarely know where they’re going, so they’re just like those traffic cones you see on the road. Also, the sight of such thick crowds of people being loaded on and off the ship could often be a source of inspiration for other harmless inside jokes.
8 The Crew And Captain Have Got Bad Days As Well
The staff and captain are professionals who are required to take care of you and get you to the desired location unharmed; however, it doesn’t mean that they’re immune to normal human emotions. Everyone’s got their fair share of good and bad days, and the crew on the ship isn’t at all an isolated example. Sometimes when passengers ask the same naïve questions over and over again, it’s quite logical for the crew to get nervous and show their emotions through laconic replies or sarcastic remarks. Some of the most frequently asked questions that surely bug the crew to an unbearable level are these two: “Does the crew sleep onboard?" and "Where is the captain?”
7 The Toilet Pipes Aren't At All Robust
Sadly, the plumbing system on the ship isn’t nearly as robust as the common toilets on land; however, most passengers keep throwing their belongings away. Some even try to flush smaller objects hoping that they’ll get rid of them as quickly as that. In reality, though, it can lead to some serious plumbing problems, and nobody would want that for sure. Evidently, the plumbing system on such cruise ships is not only quite delicate and unstable, but it can absolutely damage and even break the other pipes in multiple places. For instance, even the tiniest items like a small tampon could block the thinner pipes and pumps.
6 Pirates Could Be A Super Serious Problem As Well
Just because such spooky encounters with pirates rarely happen in the open sea doesn’t mean that the passengers are 100% safe on the ship. Besides, pirates won’t let the captain or anyone else see them coming. Haven’t you seen "Pirates of the Caribbean"? Well, if you have, then you will probably agree with that. Besides, there have already been many cases of cruise ships being attacked by pirates; therefore, the captain and the crew have to be well-trained to react adequately in such an unpleasant and downright bizarre scenario. While some cruise lines boast onboard security guards that are well-trained in high-risk areas, others don’t really consider this a serious threat at all.
5 Tax Laws Absolutely Bent At Sea
According to loveexploring.com, tax laws are sometimes bent at sea, and most cruise companies take advantage of that by getting their ships registered to foreign countries. Apparently, all of this happens with the idea of a possible tax evasion, but as long as it’s completely legal, we don’t see why they should refrain from it. On the flip side, though, all labor laws could be affected by it as they are sometimes disregarded altogether. As we’ve already mentioned, ship workers and servers have to deal with annoying passengers and long night shifts, while their salaries still remain surprisingly low.
4 Follow The Crew Once You're At The Port
Imagine that you’re a regular traveler who often spends weeks on a cruise ship. You’ll most likely know where to find the best food, restaurants, cafes, shopping malls and shops once you get off the ship. But if you’re an amateur in this department, we’d love to share with you a few secrets. Once the ship gets decked at the port, just follow the crew members and even directly asked them about the best places for cheap and delicious lunch. After all, the ship’s itinerary rarely changes that much, so the staff practically knows these places and city ports like the back of their hand.
3 No, You Wouldn't Want To Be Late For The Ship
Don’t be late unless you want to get stranded in an entirely new place. Frankly, that would undoubtedly bring pools of sweat onto your eyebrows. Well, it’s also understandable that most people get so immersed in their traveling experience that they almost forget to watch the time. Indeed, exploring new lands, architecture and culture is quite a fantastic moment; however, believe us, you’d better skip that last one tourist attraction and avoid getting stranded in this otherwise beautiful, yet distant land. But if somehow you're late back to the ship, and they didn’t leave without you, get ready to fork over some serious amount of cash for your negligence.