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CruiseJobFinder interviewed Marie G., who spent 6 years working as a hairdresser on several cruise ships. Marie was employed by Steiner, a large concessionaire with salon and spa services on approximately 100 cruise ships. She is a British citizen residing in Australia.
Where did you work before going to sea?
I trained as a hairdresser after finishing secondary school at 16 and have been working in the industry for 24 years.
What made you want to work in the cruise industry?
I wanted to travel and still work at the same time.
What related experience did you have prior to being hired?
I'd been hairdressing for four years beforehand.
Did you apply for this job specifically or for several different opportunities?
For this one only, as Steiner have the concession on most of the cruise ships for hairdressers.
What were the job requirements?
They were looking for qualified hairdressers who were confident in doing hair up.
What kinds of answers do you think the interviewers are looking to hear from a successful candidate?
They were looking for hairdressers that work well in a salon environment and fit into anywhere.
Why do you think you were hired?
I was 20, passionate about hairdressing and keen to move on in my career.
What are the best pieces of advice you would give a friend who's about to start applying for cruise line jobs?
Think about what job you want to do as some jobs you work hard and don't get shore time but make great money, others you don't make as much money but you see all the ports.
How long did it take from first applying for the position to getting your first contact from the cruise line company?
I got a letter back a week later and started a month after that.
Did you receive any special training or preparation for this job?
Yes, I was sent to London for about four weeks, when I was given product knowledge, demonstration training and training in knowledge of all treatments.
How helpful were the cruise line in helping you get organized before you joined your ship?
Steiner (concession) was very helpful and told you everything from what equipment to bring, to what clothes you'd need.
What are the most challenging aspects of your job?
Dealing with passengers who have had the same hairdresser for 20 years and want their hair done but not by someone new.
What were your day-to-day responsibilities?
General hairdressing, promoting the salon, doing demonstrations, collecting the towels.
What were the terms of your employment?
I had eight-month contracts.
Besides previous experience, are there any personal qualities you would need?
They want people that fit in well to the salon, work well, promote the salon and give the image they require.
Describe the living arrangements and how you dealt with sharing space?
Hairdressers share with beauty therapists two to a cabin, you have alternate lunches so you get two hours at lunch in the cabin to yourself but it was fine. I like being around people so it was good you have curtains around your bed for privacy.
What were your colleagues like, both in your department and in general?
We were all very close in the salon and we all got on really well.
What was your favorite port and why?
Nassau, not the best but we went there twice a week for 11 months until 5.30am in the morning. It was my first ship - I was 20 and I loved it.
How did you spend your time off duty?
Beach, sightseeing, touring, going to bars and pubs or staying in the crew bar.
Would you recommend this line of work to others?
Yes, definitely, it was the greatest time of my life but you need to be young to do it.
What are the passengers like? How do you handle working with guests for so many hours?
American passengers are just funny, some passengers are demanding but generally if you're calm and firm with them it's all good.
What do they do to keep the crew happy?
They have lots of crew tours and crew parties.
Do you think working on cruise ships helped your career on land, and has it developed you as a person?
It made me able to adapt to any situation and helped me go for more in my jobs, and I have a good understanding of business.