Massachusetts Bay Lines Interview

How about spending the summer working for Massachusetts Bay Lines, which operates out of Boston and runs year-round cruises of Boston Harbor? They have been operational since the 1950s. The company specializes in special music cruises and private charters, as well as whale watching tours, and private events, such as weddings, birthdays, corporate events, and summer parties. Here’s our exclusive interview with a hiring manager.

Please describe what your company does? What is your role in the staffing process?

We are an exciting, family-run harbor cruise company based out of Boston, Massachusetts, offering entertainment cruises, dinner cruises, whale watching cruises, and more for our discerning guests. We also provide private charters for parties and special occasions.

I am the general manager overseeing the overall running of the business and have a part in the hiring of new staff.

How many vessels does your company operate?

We have 5 vessels that we operate, namely the M/V Freedom, the M/V Massachusetts, M/V New Boston, the M/V Samuel Clemens, and the M/V Seaport Belle.

Describe a typical ‘cruise’ if there is such a thing. What would the shipboard experience be like for a typical employee?

We offer entertainment and fun on our cruises which our employees have to emulate in their attitude and personality, so they can be assured of a fun working environment. They can expect to work long hours, sometimes over weekends including Sundays and until late at night sometimes.

What are some of the common job titles you advertise for?

We frequently hire bartenders, deckhands, and concessionaires.

What are some of the selling points you use to get people onboard to work with your company?

We offer this as an interesting, fun job for people who want flexibility and good pay, but where they get to develop skills for the future, especially in hospitality.

You are a local operator. Do you only hire people from the immediate area or do you occasionally hire people from other areas or even other countries?

We mainly hire locally.

Do you have a ‘season’ or ‘seasons’ where you’re busiest? Describe the seasonality aspect of your business.

Summer is generally the busiest season.

What percentage of your staff are returning from the previous year vs. new hires?

We have a few returns, but lots of new applicants all the time. I would say about 10% – 20% return.

Do you have a lot of college kids/students working for you? If yes, then what attracts them to your jobs?

Yes, this type of shift work suits students.

During what times of the year are you recruiting the most?

We recruit mostly during March and April ready for the summer season.

Describe your perfect candidate. How can someone best make a great first impression with you?

Making a great first impression is all about confidence, so if we see that you are confident and outgoing, we already have a good idea about how you will interact with the guests. If we get a good feel from you, then we are happy.

What advice can you offer about resumes?

Make sure that your resume is not too long, and ensure that your application form is filled out accurately and neatly. We ask all about work history and previous experience in the application form, so there is no need to send a very long resume as well.

Are there any common traits people should have in order to get hired, and then to succeed in the cruise industry?

Being friendly and confident with a great personality is the main thing that people need to have. Succeeding is a different story in the long run, and while you do need those things, you also have to be a hard worker, very dedicated, always show up on time, always be neat, know how to handle problems and complaints effectively, and basically just have excellent interpersonal skills, as well as organizational skills.  

Are there any benefits or perks that your employees enjoy?

We train you, so you don’t need to have any previous experience for the concessionaire, deckhand and bar tender jobs. You get paid meals while on shift.

A lot of seasonal employers have trouble keeping staff for the whole ‘season.’ Do you encounter this, and do you give incentives to keep staff for the whole season?

No, we usually keep our staff for the entire season.

Interviewing Advice

What advice would you give people to help them prepare for interviews with your company?

I would say that being prepared is good, but being over prepared is not so good. We don’t want parrot fashion answers and rehearsed lines, we just want you to be yourself. Make sure you dress appropriately, bring a copy of your resume and application with you and come with confidence.  

What is the interview and selection process like for your positions?

We first go through your application form and/or resume to see if you would be a good candidate, then we ask you to come in for an interview with us. After this, we discuss pay and working hours, and then put you to work right away.

Does your company provide any training?

Yes, we train you up when you are on board, so at first you will be working as a shadow basically getting trained up by one of the other members of staff.

What are some common misperceptions people have about working on cruise ships?

People think it is all fun and games. While there are fun times and you do have fun, this is not about enjoying a cruise. You are working for the people enjoying the cruise. There is a difference! Another, is that people think the work will be easy. It is actually very demanding, physically and mentally, as you always have to be on your toes, always have a happy persona and always be willing to do anything to help out on board.

What type of person gravitates towards these jobs? Do you find that some people find ways to ‘work on boats’ year-round? With your company for part of the year and other companies other times of the year?

Students are usually drawn to our company, but yes, we also get those who work on boats all year and come to us for a while either as a stepping stone to a bigger cruise company, or on their travels elsewhere.


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