In the two years before I moved to New York, I was working for two luxury cruise lines as a singer / dancer. Life on a cruise ship can be equally amazing and hard. I get tons of questions about ship life so I thought I’d share some fun facts with you all!
WHATS LIFE ON A CRUISE SHIP REALLY LIKE…
My job was singer/dancer as well as cruise staff. We performed 4 shows, sang at parties and taught dance classes. We also hosted events and dinners, ran games and socialized!
Whatever department you work in, those will be the people you spend the majority of your time with. If you’re a performer like me, your cast can make or break your contract. I have heard horror stories about casts who didn’t get along, like AT ALL. People who couldn’t even speak to each other and then have to go perform together. The hardest part about all of this is that you work where you play so, if you don’t like someone it’s almost impossible to not see them.
Outside of your cast, you meet all sorts of people from all over the world and it’s amazing what you can learn from them. Many crew members are from places like the Philippines, India and Indonesia to name a few.
It’s very difficult to keep a romantic relationship back at home while being on the ship. Best case scenario is your lover also wants to do ships and you can do a contract together!
The “mess” is where crew members go to eat. This is a buffet style cafeteria essentially. It truly depends on your ship, but on mine the food wasn’t too bad and they always had pasta or rice which was nice for days when everything else looked like bilge water from the tender boats. You absolutely start to miss your favorite restaurants and even just cooking for yourself. (Sometimes you just want Kraft Mac & Cheese dammit!) It’s easy to get tired of the food in the mess so if your ship lets you eat up in guest area then you are blessed. Both of my ships had INCREDIBLE food. Fo Free toooooo
Because part of the job is to socialize with guests, many companies give the performers a stipend to spend on alcohol in the lounges. Which is great because this is some nice ass wine and cocktails they’re makin for ya. There is also a crew bar where drinks range from $1.00 to like $3.00. It. Is. Great.
There is however, random drug and alcohol testing. Because you are responsible for the safety of the guests on board, it’s important to always be ready in case of an emergency!
Many ships also have events where one department hosts fun activities for the rest of the crew. Often times this would include wine and cheese nights, beer and pizza, karaoke and more!
Yes, the rooms are the size of a shoe box. You remember the room that Jack stayed in on Titanic? The one with the four beds? Yep. Those are real. (Bad comparison? Maybe.) But as performers you will only have two to a room and singers get their own. (Rude, I know.) And if you love those long hot showers, kiss em goodbye. The water temperature often fluctuates from freezing to scalding in seconds and your shower curtain will probably be clung to your booty the whole time. You will eventually get used to the size and learn what you can and can’t live without when you pack. Hopefully your contract doesn’t go places with all 4 seasons or you gotta be supppper picky.
I’m sure you have heard some pretty terrifying stories about cruise ships. There’s the obvious, Titanic, but there’s also rogue waves, grounding, and just overall bad weather to worry about. Many times on my travels we had to miss ports or stay put to be safe. While yes it is scary, these ships are tough and can withstand a lot! Anyways to the point:
If the weather is bad and you have a show, usually you still have to perform. You can modify some choreography if needed, but that’s not even the worst part. The worst is when you have to stand still and you casually just start falling over.
Some ships give their crew members free WiFi. But if not, you can either pay for minutes or megabytes. I definitely had to be strict with myself and not let my spending get out of hand for internet. Eventually you get used to having your phone less and less and it’s sorta nice. Oh, but the internet was never strong enough to stream things like YouTube or Netflix.
As I’m sure you can imagine, being on a ship far away from home makes it hard to stay in touch with friends and family. Often times we would go try and find stronger WiFi somewhere in the port so we could FaceTime, check e- mail and download music or Netflix.
Finding places in Europe with Wifi is pretty easy, but places like Africa and French Polynesia don’t make it so simple. The other thing about being disconnected is the fact that you are often oblivious to the outside world. Yes, there are news channels on our TV’s, but its easy to get caught up in your travels and pay no attention to what’s going on back home.
The Realization That It’s Just Not For You
Being away from home for a long time can be hard on a person. You might miss weddings, birthdays and holidays which can really bring you down and make you feel left out of your loved ones lives. Being stuck on a small ship with nowhere to go can cause great unhappiness and I have known many people who have felt they need to go home early. Your mental health is the most important thing so if you have to leave, it’ll be okay. But everyone I’ve known that pushed through always said they were glad they did.
The itineraries on many ships are truly amazing! You may get to see the entire world like I did, or chill in the Caribbean for a couple months, like I also did. It just depends, but no matter what, you wake up in a new place every day and that’s pretty incredible.
If you have any more questions about what its like to work on a cruise ship, ask away!