What horrors need to be ready, if you want to work on a cruise ship
Source: Alisa Kochmasheva for e1.ru
Perhaps every second inhabitant of our homeland dreamed of working abroad at least once in his life. Some go to conquer America under the Work & Travel program, others get a job as guides in travel agencies, and still others go to Turkish hotels as an animator or guest relation. Few people know that you can even work on a cruise ship, and Alisa Kochmasheva experienced this on herself and said Olga,why he wants to return to the ship, despite the hellish working conditions.
"Medical Commission, as in flight attendants"
Once, as a student, I went to the United States on the Work & Travel program, since then work in Russia seemed boring to me. Therefore, after graduation, I began to actively look for vacancies abroad, came across a job on a cruise ship and turned to the agency.
I needed work experience - at least 2 of the year - and knowledge of English, I have a translator diploma. In general, the level can be average, the main thing is to be able to express oneself in the language. True, then get a job with minimal communication - a cleaner, for example. And to the position of a waiter, the level is needed higher: you have to communicate a lot with vacationers.
If you get to the reception, this is real luck. But usually there are no good starting positions - you start with a waiter (or even an assistant waiter) or with a maid, and then, perhaps, you will go up the career ladder.
In the agency I had an interview in English, which at the same time checked my knowledge in the field of catering. I went to the position of a room service employee, in other words, room service - food delivery to the cabins, and I had to know the composition of all the dishes, because someone may be allergic. In America, the menu has a lot of marks - "gluten free", "sludge free" and "all that can be free." God forbid, if you get something extra in the order, you throw a tantrum.
After that there was a Skype interview with another agency in Lithuania and one more directly with the employer. It could have been made easier by contacting Lithuania immediately and not overpaying to several agencies for help in finding employment, but then I didn’t know about it.
After some time, they sent me a contract, and I began to prepare the documents. The first thing they asked me was a certificate of no criminal record. Then you need to issue a visa - an American transit and a visa of the country of accession, in my case it was Spain. By the way, the direction can not be chosen, the company itself determines which ship to send and where it will join.
Be sure to pass a medical examination. At that time it could have been done in Yekaterinburg, but all the forms had to be filled in by the doctor in English. I found such a doctor, my acquaintances advised me. Now there is no opportunity to pass a medical examination in Yekaterinburg - only in Moscow and St. Petersburg. Even if you live in Vladivostok, you will have to go there. Cruise companies no longer trust anyone except for the accredited medical centers.
The medical board, like a flight attendant - you need to go through a lot of doctors and donate blood for everything. The first time they took me 6 flasks, the second - another 3 flasks.
Then you had to buy a plane ticket - this is your only major expense. Then the cruise company pays for accommodation, meals and a ticket back home.
A year has passed since my appeal to the agency before joining the ship. There are urgent jobs, you can fly away in a month or two. My connection was first scheduled for June, but then it was moved to September, and I stayed at home for another month at 3. Well, at least for work left, I already wrote a statement.
"On the ship you are liable for military service"
My first Mediterranean cruise started in Barcelona. I flew there late in the evening, got to the hotel, where the company booked for me a room with dinner and breakfast. The bus arrived at 7 in the morning and immediately took a bunch of people - all the new employees of the ship. After 2,5 of the month, when the season ended in Europe, there was a crossing across the Atlantic to the Caribbean, where I spent another six months.
The first day on the ship is probably the most terrible day of those that I spent on cruises. You come to an unfamiliar place, do not understand anything, do not know what to do, how to behave, where what is. Where is the “front”, and where the backside of the ship is impossible to determine, the liner is very large, getting lost on it is a matter of one minute.
First of all, they show you the master station - a special place where you need to run in an emergency. You are on a ship liable for military service: if something happens, you must escort all passengers to the exit and assist them.
After that, several trainings are immediately conducted - what to do in an emergency situation, what are call signs, code words. For example, if there is a fire, one code word will be transmitted to the staff, if a person is left behind - another. These codes are needed to avoid panic among passengers. Each crew member has his own area of responsibility, I had a threat to the safety of the ship. For example, pirates could attack him, and I had to beat them off with water from a hose.
On the first day a mentor from your department is assigned to you. It shows where your cabin, work place. Hour in 4 of the day I took up my duties - to form orders and carry them to the rooms. At first, the search for the cabin took a lot of time, but later it was the room service workers who knew the liner best of all and could quickly get to any point.
"On the liner need to drink"
It is necessary to understand that the working conditions on a cruise ship are completely unsweetened. I adapted only to the second contract, and on the first month of 4 I was under great stress. Probably in my entire life I didn’t cry as much as on a ship.
You do not have a weekend - from the word “absolutely”, you work every day on 12 – 13 hours, which can be divided into shifts on 6 hours, but then you need to go, for example, from 4 to 10 in the morning and from 4 to 10 in the evening. Between shifts, you need to sleep, and if you want, say, to go to a party, then you should take into account that then you will feel very bad.
There is no family, friends nearby, you miss them a lot, because 8 hasn't been home for months. It was also very difficult because you are always in an enclosed space. You can not leave when you want, you can not retire, because in the cabin you live with someone. If you sleep, and your neighbor has returned from the shift, he will wake you up. In addition, you may be, so to speak, incompatible. The crew on the ship is multinational, everyone has their own culture, habits, and customs. What you consider normal, acceptable, for another person can be strange and even offensive - and vice versa. Therefore, it is necessary to choose expressions, to be able to apologize, to extinguish conflicts.
Of course, you get used to it slowly and get acquainted on the ship, get new friends from different parts of the world, and then, as I did, you can visit everyone. I think that the friends I made on the ship are friends forever, they are the most loyal, understanding, sincere.
People who work on cruises have a different mindset, they go through a lot. Everyone wants to relax, so sometimes you need to go to a party and drink something. For employees there is a daily rate - one shot or a bottle of beer 0,33 l. If something happens, you have to think and stand on your feet to help people.
"Too much curry"
We should also tell about food for employees. It is very dependent on the ship and management. On my first liner there were two places for meals - the cru-mass and the staff mass. A cru-mass is a canteen for personnel without shoulder straps - cleaners, waiters, etc. And officers and all employees with shoulder straps go to the staff staff.
The food in the cru-mass was disgusting - rice, some kind of Filipino soup, sometimes fruit - either watermelon or melon, not very good, all in water. It was possible to collect the salad from greens, olives, cheese, sausages. The meat was not always, and mostly very spicy. Curry! He was so much.
I do not like curry, but a lot of Indians work on board, Filipinos - apparently, the calculation was made on them. I could eat, for example, just boiled rice, bread and salad.
Thank God, I had to eat in the cru-mass only in the last month of the contract. Before that, everyone was allowed into the staff-mass, then a new manager came and changed everything. On the second contract there was only one place for food, common to all, and they were fed there deliciously.
"Salary - 1000 dollars"
The advantages of being on the ship are traveling, friends and international experience. It makes you hardier, stronger, tempers the spirit. By the way, the salary is not bad. It depends on the position. In room service, the salary was about 750 dollars per month plus tips, the amount was about 1000 dollars. Since accommodation and food on the ship is paid by the employer, you can spend this money on anything or bring it home.
For two contracts, I saw about 20 countries and more 40 cities. It's great when you woke up in Spain on Monday, and already in France on Tuesday. During the day, when the ship is in port, you can go out and take a walk during your holiday. Could go on a cheap tour specifically for the staff.
On the ship itself there are bars only for the staff, where discos, a mini-coffee shop, a gym were held. It was possible to walk, sunbathe on the decks, go eat in one of the restaurants, provided a small number of guests.
“Passengers pissed me off”
A lot of cruise fans are American grandparents. They are so old that they often die on the ship. For my 8 month contract, only 4 people died from old age. The liner has its own morgue, and the company then pays insurance, covering the large costs of the funeral.
Overboard people also turned out. I have never heard anyone fall accidentally - it is almost impossible.
Somehow a man jumped overboard, and when he climbed over the railing, a little boy saw him. He told the security. The man immediately began to look for. It was late in the evening, the captain immediately deployed the ship, lowered the lifeboat with the rescuers and conveyed the message to the US Coast Guard. We were hours in 8 from Miami, 10 minutes had passed - and the 4 boats already rushed, and the helicopter even earlier. As they say, they found only parts of the body - the guys saw sharks.
In general, the passengers were very capricious and often infuriated me because of stress. It's no secret that Americans are picky about the service and can react violently to some, in their opinion, omissions in service. Every time you are told: “You know, and you sang Happy Birthday not loud enough, I didn’t like it, give me a tip,” I wanted to strangle the passenger.
And still many “cruisers” are very thick, they are lazy and cannot move on their two, so there are electric scooters for them on board. I had such a duty: on the last day of the cruise, those who traveled on the ship on a scooter should leave it on board, and they had to be taken on a ramp in a wheelchair. I had to weight a passenger in 150 kg literally push out from the liner. After all shifts, your back hurts all the time, and another such “gift.” Why this task was given to girls, I do not understand. Okay, I'm still strong, but the Chinese girl, who is 2 times lower than me and 5 times thinner, could not move them at all.
"Cool to be part of a multi-ethnic community"
When my first contract ended, I was not going to return. I had a two-month vacation, during which I changed my mind. I am already used to this rhythm of life, new people, different countries, other food and culture. And I went again. The second time was much easier. I felt free on the ship, especially since a lot of my friends had been transferred to this liner.
The second contract was also on 8 months, but I only sustained 4, because my friends left and I didn’t see any career opportunities for myself there. In the restaurant, I did not want to work anymore. I understood that with my potential, education, experience I deserve more.
I still have a dream to work at the reception, and for this you need knowledge of a second foreign language. My Spanish was at a very low level at that time, so I could not qualify for this position.
Since then I have been learning Spanish in Yekaterinburg, now I am ready to travel under the following contract, work at the reception desk and earn 2000 dollars a month. Now they will take me for sure. Cruise life delays, it is really interesting. Yes, it is special, you need to get used to it, but at the same time you travel, see new places and get acquainted with a bunch of people. This is a large multinational community, and being part of it is awesome.