Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Seeing the world via cruise ships

There's nothing quite like a cruise ship holiday. Though I've only been on one (to Bermuda), it was great. Of course, the fact that I went with some of my closest friends (and became friends with more, including at least one in Wales who reads and comments on this blog) probably helped. The ship itself can be quite relaxing, there's always something to do — though shuffleboard and lounge singers aren't my style — and if you factor in all of the costs, it's often far cheaper than a regular "hotel" vacation.

Disney Wonder Cruise Ship
Photo by Mr. Thomas
But what's it like to work on one? This might be your way to see the world and actually get paid for it. Unfortunately for you, many people think the same thing and the jobs are very competitive. Just a quick search engine check for "cruise ship jobs" shows tons of links, many of them to companies of rather dubious provenance. In researching this for you (hey, that's what I do!), I've found that generally you should avoid those sites as they're often scams trying to take your money; cruise lines generally have more than enough applicants (and high turnover) and you should just apply directly to them. Just search for "cruise ships" on your favorite search engine and you'll find the ship lines directly.

There are some definite upsides to working on cruise ships. First, the very point of a cruise ship is to take people to interesting, exotic locations; they're not going to take you to Hoboken. Second, your room and board are paid for. Salaries aren't mind-blowing, but you have very little to spend it on. On board, there's often a Crew Bar with cheap drinks and cigarettes and a crew's mess for free. You don't have to do your own laundry and your rooms will be cleaned for you. Some lines even consider spouses working together on a ship!

A bay near the dock.
From my Bermuda Cruise
The downsides, though, are tough. First, you're often working 45 to 60 hours a week, seven days a week. When you want to relax, some lines let you have access to passenger areas while others do not. You will probably have to share a small cabin without so much as a porthole. To top it off, you have plenty of passengers who will simply assume you're little more than their personal slave to order around and abuse.

To better flesh things out, here are some articles from various sources about life working on a cruise ship:
Were I single and in good health, I'd definitely give this one a try for a while. Even if I couldn't stay in those exotic locales, I could save money and at least start to get some ideas of what the rest of the world might be like.