Most people go to sea for travel, exotic ports of call, and the experience of meeting both passengers and co-workers from all over the world. As a chance to travel and experience new cultures while still earning a living, working on a cruise ship is probably the ultimate opportunity. As a crew member you will work and live in an environment that differs from land-based employment, experiencing the world of seafaring, a tradition that predates written history.
The ports of call reached by cruise lines today offer cruise employees an unparalleled opportunity for travel. For instance, Princess Cruises’ Royal Princess has traveled from Acapulco, through the Panama Canal, around the Caribbean, across the Atlantic to the Mediterranean, around Italy, down to North Africa, around the British Isles, through the Baltic Sea, back across the Atlantic to New York, and eventually to Acapulco again. Cruise line workers can really take full advantage of these travel opportunities. As one onboard employee explains:
“As gift shop employees, we had the great advantage of being closed when we were in port, so we were able to get off the ship and out of work virtually the entire time that we were in port. On my very first cruise, we visited South America, the Caribbean, Hawaii, and Alaska. In the Caribbean I went swimming and SCUBA diving on beautiful white-sand beaches.
At the South American ports I did a lot of shopping and just checking out the local culture and sights, and in Alaska I even got to go sport fishing! Probably the only drawback to visiting all of these ports is that I got carried away and spent a little too much money shopping.”
Although there’s no denying the fantastic travel opportunities, there’s also something to be said about the wonderful experience of meeting a variety of people and making new friends. Most people who work on cruise ships speak of an instant rapport between crew leading to lasting friendships. According to one cruise ship employee, it wasn’t the beach scene that held her interest, but her many new friends:
“On my first cruise, we typically visited the same Caribbean islands over and over, and I eventually got tired of the same old beaches and the hassle of getting to shore on the tenders, so I spent most of my free time on board. This was fine, because I really loved the people that I worked with. They came from all parts of the country and the world, and really knew how to socialize. At first, I made a lot of good friends, and then the next week they’d be transferred to another ship, which was kind of difficult. But now, I’m being transferred to a new ship and I’m already going to know some of the people there because I worked with them on my previous assignment.”
One of the many interesting aspects of life on cruise ships is the incredible diversity of the crew. Because of the international nature of cruise travel and registry laws, staff members come from all over the world. One cruise employee reports:
“The band was from Poland, the waiters from the Czech Republic and France. South Americans were absolutely everywhere. One guy was from Portugal but told all the girls he was from Italy for some reason. If you’re trying to brush up on or learn any new languages, this is the place to do it, and learning about new cultures is practically unavoidable.”