Nobody writes the raw truth about working onboard a cruise ship. There are a hundred articles that pop up on google with advice on how to get hired, the different jobs that are being offered and the amazing travel opportunities that come with it. These articles don't make it nearly as enticing as it really is, nor does it outline the truth about life onboard.
The best advice I was given before I left for my first contract, was by the recruiter that hired me. He said, "this place is going to be like Melrose Place on water, don't get fired and don't fall in love". I didn't get fired.
I didn't set out to work on cruise ships, truth be told I had never considered cruising. I was just having a bad day and saw an add in the local paper that said "cruise ship hiring, email email@example.com". (Now better known as Just Cruisin' Recruitment in Canada). I fired off my resume outlining my minimal experience, a cashier at McDonalds and a Customer Service Representative. The next day, I woke up on the right side of the bed, had a better day, and never thought about the posting until I got a phone call three months later.
Sitting in a call center, in a small glass office, I answered my cell phone and boldly forwarded all of the company calls straight to voicemail to listen to this man tell me I had been shortlisted to work on a cruise ship. He requested a quick interview, which I proceeded to consent to and thirty minutes later he offered a second interview at the tourism center downtown. A rush of excitement and adrenaline prompted me to pop my head into my managers office and say I was sick and heading home, jump into my car and race to the same day interview.
It was one of the fastest interviews I have ever had. I felt like if anything, I was the one being sold on the job more than I was selling him. Maybe he had already determined from our telephone conversation I had the skills needed, after all, I was accepting a $900/monthly job at the reception desk. Hardly worth the money compared to my current job, but my career was going nowhere in a call center, my relationship with my boyfriend had just ended and I wanted to escape. It was a way to travel and something so out of character for me, it was the closest I'd come to living on the edge.
I was told if I signed at the bottom of the contract in front of me, I would be given five days to get a passport, full medical exam and police report. I would join a ship that coming Sunday.
If you're reading my blog, you were likely using a search engine to find out how to get hired. I will get into the best advice I can give you, but I honestly think it comes down to luck more than anything. Apply though recruitment agencies in your area. Know that most cruise lines hire at entry level and promote within. Regardless of your experience on land, cruise ships operate differently. Be willing to accept a position you might not on land, but accept this knowing once onboard, opportunities are constant. Applying directly through the cruise lines is possible, but think about how many resumes they receive each day. You will have better luck googling a recruitment agency in your area who will likely give you the opportunity to speak to them directly.
Be patient, most posting for cruise ship jobs are frequent because of constant turnaround. Therefore cruise lines interview, find successful candidates, and then keep their resumes on file for months in advance to prepare for upcoming positions. By the time they go to call someone, many applicants have found stable jobs on land, or their personal life has changed in such a way they don't want to leave for 4-10 months at time.
Follow up, but don't be too persistent to the point you are annoying. Keep in mind these people hold the key to your success. Email occasionally or place a phone call to the agency for an update on upcoming openings. Often the agencies post job fairs when they are in your city, look for those and come with an updated resume and a LOT of personality.
Finally, get to know someone who works or has worked on a ship. Inside sources are the best way to get yourself on board, and expedite this waiting game if working onboard is your passion.
I kept a regulary diary entry of my life onboard. For now, live vicariously though my blogs and see if it sounds like the job for you...
Day One: Vancouver, BC
It's Sunday and I joined the ship today. I am already exhausted. I look at around as I type this, staring at the four walls of this closet size cabin with four beds in it. Soon my roommates will be off work so I am glad I was able to shower before they get back. One bathroom, four beds, one tv, one other Canadian, a Philipino Girl and a Romanian. I can't remember their names yet. The Romanian girl seemed stuck up as hell. In fact, so did most of the Romanian girls I met today.
I wonder what I am doing here. From the second I stepped onboard today, I have been pulled in every direction, fitted for an ugly red uniform, thrown into a boring three hour safety class which pretty much has me fearing a Titantic-like experience now, and I have been lost three times.
I am starting work tomorrow. I will just stand alongside some girl who seems to struggle with the english language, and learn as I go. 2000 guests got off the ship today and another 2000 got on. I am feeling a little overwhelmed at the amount of knowledge I need to have. Everyone here seems so intense. The Safety Manager flipped out on me and this other Canadian girl when we were late for class today. He actually threatened to send us back home before we left port. I never realized I would need to know how many lifeboats a ship carries, or how to evacuate the passengers. Isn't there a Captain and some sort of safety squad for that??
I kind of miss home. I packed my life into cardboard boxes in less than a week and left every comfort zone I was sheltered by. The small voice inside of me that I normally ignore finally spoke loud enough to get me here, and now it's still trying to talk me through it. This is supposed to be a chance to see the world and an opportunity to grow.
2311H - My roommates are back and I am sitting in bed. The Romanian girls name is Alina. She hardly said two words to me when she got here, but she sure is full of conversation for this guy in her bed now. All I can hear is her giggling and his deep caribbean accent. I guess it's her boyfriend. I didn't realize we could fit another body into this cabin. Wait...is she really....what the fuck, they are screwing!
Does she not realize two other people are in this room? Does she seriously think this curtain that closes around each bunk is sound proof?? I open my curtain and look across at the bunk next to me where the philipino girl, Carmella, is sitting. I look at her as if to say, "is this really happening?".
She smiles obliviously and keeps staring at the TV, slurping her instant noodles. Clearly, this is something she is used to.
I'm logging off for the night. I'm not to used to falling asleep to live porn, I think I'll pop in some of these ear plugs they gave us to drown out the sound of the engine and try to get some sleep.