Working on a cruise line may seem like all fun and games, but the reality is that cruise ship workers have it pretty tough. Sure, there are some benefits here and there, like the luxury of traveling to exotic locations. But living where you work is bound to take its toll, especially when you are expected to be on your best behavior twenty-four seven.
Plus, being a cruise ship worker means knowing everything that could go wrong on any one of these getaways. And the truth can be a little terrifying. Between crummy meals, having to put up with irritable guests, and knowing all of the dangers that lie on board, here are ten secrets that cruise ship workers don't want you to know.
10 They Are Being Watched At All Times
Whether they are on or off the clock, a cruise ship worker is essentially being monitored at all times. Like most establishments, cruise lines expect their employees to be respectable and professional while at their place of work. Except cruise employees are always at their place of work.
This means that workers are being watched on the clock, in between shifts, and even while they are having a fun night out off the clock. Not to mention that there are security cameras running at all times throughout the ship.
9 There's A Morgue On The Ship
According to data collected from Thrillist, "records from 2008 to 2018 from the Brevard (Florida) County Medical Examiner’s Office, home to Port Canaveral, the country's second-busiest, counted 129 naturally occurring deaths on cruises."
Bearing these numbers in mind, it stands to reason that cruise ships should have morgues on board. Cruise liners who cater to older crowds are actually used to people dying during their cruise and the morgue acts as a safe place to store the bodies until they can get to the next port of call.
8 Their Drinks Are Cheaper
Drinks don't come cheap when you're on a cruise. For example, Royal Caribbean's Deluxe drink package that comes with alcohol can run up to $70 a day. And for those who opt not to indulge in unlimited cocktails can expect to pay anywhere between $12 and $20 for their long island refreshments. For the crew members, however, it's a whole different story.
Cruise employees apparently have their own special "crew bar" where the libations are much more affordable. While a Bud Light might cost a guest $9 on deck, crew members are paying less than $2 a bottle.
7 They Can't Hang Out With Guests
Crew members are bound to make connections with their guests. After all, they are seeing the same people constantly for days, if not weeks at a time.
However, despite the chemistry you may have with your server or bartender, employees aren't allowed to party with the cruise ship passengers. This is a hard and fast rule, especially in regards to more explicit relationships. In other words, crew members are forbidden to hook up with guests.
6 Dumping The Waste
Have you ever wondered what happens to all the waste onboard cruise ships? The largest cruise ship in the world (Royal Caribbean’s Harmony of the Seas) has nearly 3,000 rooms on board. That means over 3,000 restrooms that are consistently being flushed—but to where?
Once a cruise ship is at least twelve miles from the shore, they can dump as much untreated waste into the ocean as they want. However, most cruise ships do have a filtration system that works to eliminate the bacteria in the greywater and bathroom waste.
5 They Can & Will Leave You Behind
Most experienced cruise passengers are aware of the strict timelines that must be adhered to once the ship reaches a port of call. Generally, you only have a few core hours to spend ashore before you are required to rebound the ship. So what happens if you're late?
Cruise ship employees keep diligent track of who leaves and who returns on the ship. And while they may be able to bide some time for last-minute stragglers, their policy is to simply leave without the remaining passengers. So bear in mind that the ship can and will leave you behind if you don't plan your on-shore excursions practically.
4 Reviews Are Important
All companies take their online reviews to heart. Despite the fact that people are more eager to write scathing reviews when an experience upsets them, companies use these them to take oversights into consideration.
On top of that, these reviews actually dictate how much the crew gets paid. Comment cards and emailed reviews that specifically mention a crew member's name can drastically alter their paycheck. On top of their salary, crew members can receive bonuses for any special work or praise that is mentioned in these reviews.
3 They're Trained To Handle Pirates
Pirates, believe it or not, are still a problem in contemporary sea-sailing culture. While it's unlikely that pirates will try to take on a giant cruise ship, it has happened. In 2005, the Seabourn Spirit luxury cruise liner came under attack of pirates just off the shore of Africa. The crew expertly handled the situation by emanating a Long Range Acoustic Device, which gives off a screeching (and painful) noise. It bought them enough time to get away.
Cruise employees are also trained to tell guests to get away from decks and windows if these attacks begin to play out. They also have water cannons that they can blast at the intruders, which are sure to keep any pirate at bay.
2 Their Food Isn't Great
You may be in heaven from the unlimited supply of food that cruise ships provide, but the crew isn't so lucky. They tend to stick to a cafeteria-style meal plan which is a far cry from the white table cloth service that guests are used to.
Some former cruise members will be treated to the leftovers from the buffets from time to time, but these meals tend to run out fast.
1 Weird Things Can Cause Shipwrecks
There are many factors that can contribute to cruise shipwrecks. Captains directing modern-day cruise ships may be well-prepared for any looming icebergs, but sometimes weather conditions can be hard to maneuver.
A light fog once caused a cruise ship to collide with a shipping container one late night in March of 2012. And whales have also caused some disturbances for cruise navigators. A Norwegian cruise ship ran into a 45-foot whale in May of 2014. The ship may have gone unharmed, but the whale was found in poor condition on the New York Harbor.