When planning a vacation, it seems like there are a plethora of different options available for travelers. From exotic locations with secluded beaches to historically significant destinations that are on everyone's bucket list, it seems like there are so many different ways for people to travel and really have an amazing vacation. Yet, traveling on a cruise ship seems to be a favorite way to vacation for so many different people with each new year. Cruise ships are readily available for those wanting to go on an Alaskan voyage or a European trip of a lifetime and everything in-between. There are those that dream about taking their very first cruise and others that swear by them as the only way to vacation. Yet, there are numerous things about cruise ships that are pretty much unknown to the general public.
It might surprise people to learn that going on a cruise isn't all just eating at one of the many buffets or lounging at the pool. There are actually a number of different things about cruises that can be a bit of a turnoff for travelers and that's why they've been hidden from general knowledge. Check out our list of the 25 things cruise ship workers know firsthand and don't want us to know and see if a cruise vacation still seems like a good idea.
25 Difference Between Staff & Crew
When it comes to any place of employment, there is often a hierarchy in regards to employees. From the dishwashers working behind-the-scenes at a restaurant to the hostess working the front podium, there are often some perks that come to certain employees based on their status at their place of employment. That is definitely the case for workers on a cruise ship but that's not something that everyone is aware of or something that these employees would like known to the world. Crew members are in reference to workers like the waiters and cleaners but the staff members are in reference to entertainers and managers (cruise.co.uk). Crew members might not want this known because it will relay to the world that they are on a lower ladder of the cruise ship hierarchy.
24 Private Pool And Sunbathing Areas
When it comes to vacations, many people try and pick a destination where they can really get away from the rigors of everyday life. This can mean trying to find a secluded location to really get some peace and quiet. On a cruise ship, that isn't always readily available since it's basically a giant floating hotel where everyone is packed in as much as possible. One thing that cruise ship workers probably don't want other people to know about is the fact that there is a private pool and sunbathing area for the ship's employees (cruise.co.uk). This is definitely a well-kept secret because they wouldn't want vacationers to try and seek out this little hidden gem on the ship.
23 Private Parties For Employees
When thinking about what it would be like to be an employee of a cruise ship, many people tend to forget that it's actually a place of employment. The scenic views and the exotic locations are definitely there but that doesn't mean that it's not a job that comes with its own stresses and rigors. Something that many people don't know about is the fact that there are often private parties arranged for the employees working on cruise ships (cruise.co.uk). They probably wouldn't want word to get out to the other passengers since it may diminish the professionalism regarding these employees and there might even be some passengers that would want to seek out these hidden parties.
22 Big Tips Boost Wage
Not all of the employees working on a cruise ship are based on the same sort of salary. The employees working in a tipping position often start off with a salary that isn't at all impressive, which is something that they probably wouldn't want known to the rest of the world. However, these tipping positions can actually be quite lucrative since the tips can really boost up the salary (cruise.co.uk). Employees that are known to go out of their way to really make a dream vacation experience for cruise ship passengers can get big tips that make a huge difference in how much they make while working. These employees probably don't want it known how much extra they make with tips since it might hinder people to want to tip.
21 They Eat The Leftovers
One of the most interesting things about vacationing on a cruise is the fact that so many passengers are known to gain an extreme amount of weight while on the ship. The endless buffets and abundance of restaurants are just too tempting for some passengers and it's definitely a bonus for employees, as well. One surprising thing that most people won't know is the fact that the crew members of a cruise ship have been known to eat the leftovers of the passengers (cruise.co.uk). It's not as if they are actually eating off of the plates of the passengers but if food fails to leave the galley, the employees are able to eat it while on a break or at the end of their shift.
20 They Nap A Lot
One of the reasons why some cruise ship workers get an abundance of tips while working is the fact that they are seen so often by the same passengers. When a passenger sees that their favorite crew member is there to greet them in the morning and also there to ensure they have a fun-filled night, they might be more prone to dole out a few extra bucks now and again. Yet, something that many people don't know is the fact that many cruise ship workers are actually encouraged to take naps throughout the day (cruise.co.uk). This is how they're able to be seen in the morning and night since they've undoubtedly taken a nap here and there throughout the day so they can still appear chipper.
19 They Enjoy The Same Luxuries As Guests
One of the reasons why passengers on cruise ships are prone to wanting to tip the employees is the fact that they feel such guilt that these people have to work while in such a beautiful and luxurious environment. Seeing the busboys running back and forth while a passenger indulges in one or two extra lobster tails or seeing the staff members baking in the heat while others are relaxing in the pool can really make people want to open their purse strings. However, something that many people don't know is the fact that many of the cruise ship workers are able to indulge in the same luxuries as the other passengers. In fact, some cruise ship workers indulge even more than the passengers (cruise.co.uk) since many activities and amenities are free to them (edenmagnet.co.au).
18 Secret Language Amongst Crew Members
Employees that work on a cruise ship are often surrounded by the passengers and it can make it difficult to converse normally with their fellow workers. It's important for cruise ship workers to maintain a sense of professionalism, especially those that are in tipping positions. It would be a hindrance for cruise ship employees to appear unprofessional, from losing their next tip to losing their job. Something that many people don't know is the fact that many cruise ship workers are known to have a secret language to allow them to talk to one another in front of other passengers without losing any of their professionalism. One tip that Cruise Bulletin released was, "It is supposedly 'banana' for someone that's a particularly bad tipper."
17 Romances On The Ship
Like any place of employment, it's not surprising that people would spark up some romance. Cruise ship workers often spend an inordinate amount of time together and inevitably, romantic relationships can spark up amongst the employees (cruise.co.uk). However, this is something that they probably wouldn't want known by the passengers. Employees in a tipping position might not want to divulge that they are married or dating a fellow worker since it might diminish their tips. Cruise ship workers probably wouldn't want people knowing about their dysfunctional romantic relationships, especially if they're three times divorced from other cruise ship workers or they're in the middle of a heated fight with their girlfriend/boyfriend working alongside them.
16 Strict Policy Against Romancing Passengers
One of the most exciting things for many tourists is the prospect of a bit of harmless flirtation with a local or fellow traveler. Women envision cute cabana boys offering to slather on their suntan lotion and men often think about National Lampoon's Vacation moment when the beautiful blonde, Christie Brinkley, flirted with Clark Griswold. However, things are a bit tricky on cruise ships since many people don't realize it but crew members are forbidden to conduct romantic relationships with the passengers. Cruise Bulletin states, "Romance between crew members and passengers however is strictly forbidden, and even the highest officers on the ship are not allowed in passenger cabins unless there is an official reason."
15 Codes Over Loudspeaker
The loudspeakers on a cruise ship are often used to let passengers know about daily happenings, from when they'll arrive at their next destination to what prizes will be won at the next pool activity contest. Passengers often listen to the loudspeaker announcements to make sure that they're not missing out on anything. However, not all of the loudspeaker announcements are appropriate for all of the passengers to hear and that's why cruise ships have come up with secret codes that they don't everyone to know about while traveling. Mental Floss released a list of codes to one particular cruise ship line and stated, "Code Adam: a child is missing, Code Alpha: there's a medical emergency, Code Oscar: man overboard, Code Bravo: fire on the ship."
14 Sickness Spreads Easily
With cruise ships being seen as giant floating hotels, many people look at them like a landmass in and of itself because of the amount of activities and venues within them. From bowling alleys to water activities, some cruise ships are so giant that it can be difficult to even partake in all of the activities that are offered during one stay. However, the size of the ship doesn't hinder the spreading of germs (cheatsheet). Something that many people don't know is that sickness is incredibly easy to spread on a cruise ship. Despite the fact that housekeeping does their best to disinfect surfaces, the close proximity to so many people facilitates the spread of illness with ease.
13 Sickness Could Lead To Quarantine
Because passengers are in such close proximity while on a cruise ship, the spread of illness can be done at an alarming rate. From passengers in an ever-flowing line at the buffets to sitting close together at one of the many shows, it's not surprising that sickness can spread throughout an entire ship in just one day. Yet, it might surprise people to learn that there is a possibility of getting put into quarantine. Cruise ships have to try and keep illness at bay as much as possible (cheatsheet) and that can mean putting particularly sick passengers into quarantine so that it will limit the possibility of infecting any of the other people on the ship (boards.cruisecritic). This is definitely something they don't want to tell everyone since it doesn't sound like a great way to spend a vacation.
12 Most Likely Being Filmed
With cruise ships often floating around on the open sea, people tend to think that they are completely secluded from the rest of the world. However, that doesn't exactly mean that they are completely free to act as wildly as they would like while they're on their vacation. Many people would be surprised to learn that there are actually cameras all over the ship. Mental Floss released a feature on cruise ships and stated, "It is safe to assume if you are outside of your cabin, you are probably on camera. In the event of any kind of emergency, they could pull security footage at any time." Being filmed isn't something that cruise ships want everyone to know but it's something to definitely be aware of while on vacation.
11 Prepared For Pirate Attacks
When traveling out onto the open sea, it's important to be aware that there is actually the possibility of being sought out by pirates. When people think of pirates, they will inevitably conjure up visions of Johnny Depp from the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise but that's not exactly what they'll get. Instead, the pirates that might want to seek out a cruise ship are the kind that are on a much smaller vessel. However, cruise ships are prepared for anything of this nature and are equipped with giant water cannons. In a feature by Mental Floss, it outlined how the crew of cruise ships are prepared for pirates and stated, "It's rare for pirate to take on a massive cruise ship, but it can happen, and if it does, the crew is prepared."
10 Practical Jokes On Passengers
With cruise ship employees having to spend a great deal of time on the job, it's not surprising that they would find this way of life a bit tedious. While the beautiful landscapes and scenic ocean views might be appealing for the first few weeks, this same old thing starts to become a bit monotonous and the long work hours don't help it. One way that some cruise ship workers try and pass the time and find a bit of enjoyment for themselves is to play practical jokes on the passengers. A former crew member from a cruise ship was quoted by Mental Floss as saying, "a favorite was while in a passenger area, say to another crew member, loud enough to be heard by passengers, 'Meet you in the bowling alley tonight!' Of course, there wasn't actually a bowling alley on board."
9 Crew Bar With Completely Different Prices
When cruise ship workers aren't on the job, they're encouraged to partake in some of the amenities that are only for the crew and staff members. This includes a separate bar that isn't readily available to passengers. Something that passengers may not be aware of is the fact that the crew member's bar has completely different prices than the bars at the rest of the cruise ship. A former cruise ship employee was quoted by Mental Floss and stated, "We joked about how it makes a frat house look like a monastery. At the passenger bars they were charging like $15 for a drink and we'd go down into the crew bar and you could get a beer or mixed drinks for $1.25."
8 Not Uncommon For Crew To Be Drinking
While people would think of working on a cruise ship as being a job of luxury, it's actually quite strenuous. The long hours and the constant requirement to be professional but extremely friendly can be tiresome to the employees. It's actually encouraged for cruise ship employees to enjoy their time off the clock, from partaking in the designated pool and sunbathing area to having a drink at the crew bar. However, the cheap drinks and the readily available liquor can cause many cruise ship employees to overindulge. A former employee of a cruise ship was quoted by Mental Floss and stated, "When they're not working, employees are probably drinking and partying." This is something that people probably don't know about since it doesn't paint the best picture that the staff is often drunk.
7 Passengers Known To Fall Overboard
Cruise ships are often seen as giant luxury hotels that float on water and the advancements in technology have allowed them to be far more luxurious than ever before. People are often awe-struck when they first step on a cruise ship because of the grandeur of its size and the luxury in its amenities. Yet, it's important to note that the size and luxury of a cruise ship doesn't mean that it is completely safe. Cruise ship companies don't want passengers to know about the many different instances of passengers falling overboard since it can make it seem like it's not safe to travel the open waters (crew-center). Yet, there are numerous stories of people falling overboard and they don't always have a happy ending (dailymail).
6 Morgue Onboard
When people think of all the different amenities that cruise ships have onboard, it's usually bowling alleys and casinos that first come to mind. Yet, people might be surprised to learn that there are a number of other features onboard that isn't for all of the passengers to see. The NY Post released a feature in 2015 and stated, "Most large ships have a designated morgue in case a passenger passes away during a sailing [voyage]." People don't really think about it but the simple fact is that there are a large number of passengers with each cruise and there are some instances that require the ship to have a morgue. This allows for a storage area before making arrangements for transport.
5 Passenger Personal Information Shared
Cruise ship companies try and make their voyages extra special in an effort to entice new travelers and bring former passengers back to the open sea. There is a great deal of competition when it comes to travel destinations and cruise ships need to offer an experience that is truly unique. In an effort to do just that, many cruise ships actually save information of their passengers. This allows crew members to know people's names and even know how they like to take their coffee or tea. The NY Post touched on this aspect and stated, "On luxury ships, the cruise lines collect information about your likes and dislikes and store it in a central database... If it’s your first sailing, your cabin steward will still get your photo and be told you’re a first-time passenger."
4 Ships Aren’t Free Of Crime
One of the things that many people love about being on a cruise ship is how intimate it can be with the other passengers. This is a great way to get to know the fellow travelers, whether it's dining at the buffet-style restaurants and sitting next to fellow passengers at the nightly shows. It can seem like a small community floating on the water and that can greatly enhance a person's travel experience. However, it's important to note that cruise ships aren't completely free of crime (telegraph.co.uk). In fact, there have been a number of instances of people experiencing theft and other issues while on a cruise ship and that's why there are even holding cells to accommodate this.
3 Passengers Basically Dictate The Wage
There aren't many companies that really take stock into customer reviews in regards to employee salaries. In a world filled with people feeling entitled by anonymity online, it's not surprising that many bad reviews are taken with a grain of salt. However, that isn't the case with cruise ships. Cheat Sheet released a feature on how much passengers dictate the wage of the employees of cruise ships and stated, "Many lines charge guests a mandatory gratuity that gets divided among employees at the end of each charter. But it’s passenger reviews that influence the breakdown of pay since it’s what supervisors pay attention to most. One guest complaint that mentions an employee by name could mean a thinner paycheck for one worker while another rave review could translate to serious cash for another."
2 Ships Will Leave You Behind
While sailing out onto the open sea is definitely a draw for people choosing a cruise ship vacation, it's the on-land excursions that really peak people's interests. Cruises can allow passengers to travel to a variety of different locations and brings a whole vacation together. However, it's important to note that passengers must pay close attention to departure times since these on-land excursions are on a strict schedule. Mental Floss stated, "Cruise lines pay massive fines if they overstay their port time, so chances are high the ship will leave without you if you’re running behind." Not many people would actually think that a cruise ship would leave a passenger behind but that's exactly what would and has happened.
1 Operational Mishaps Are Not Uncommon
Cruise ships are often seen as the height of engineering since they are often portrayed as luxury floating hotels that offer every amenity possible. From casinos to bowling alleys to luxury spas, cruise ships are often depicted as the ultimate in travel for anyone looking to take a vacation. However, that doesn't mean that they are completely free of having technical difficulties. Many cruise ships have actually had major mishaps and that's not something that the companies want to be known to the world. This Is Insider released a feature in 2018 and stated, "According to a recent report from research firm G.P. Wild, approximately 60 people per year are injured on cruise ships due to "operational mishaps," which can range from small fires on the ship to actual explosions, collisions, and ships sinking or getting stranded."
Sources: Cruise, Eden Magnet, Cheat Sheet, Cruise Critic, Mental Floss, The Daily Mail, Cruise Laws, This Is Insider, New York Post, Telegraph