Misconceptions About Working On Ships

When was 16 years old and studying Beauty Therapy at college, on one of the days a tall beautiful well-dressed lady came in and told us about this magical company called Steiner, and also told us how we could do a 9-month contract, travel the world and come home with hundreds of thousands in savings. This is when my obsession for Steiner/working onboard cruise ships began. 

At that age, all I knew was that I wanted to travel, and of course, everyone wants to make money, so it seemed like the dream job!

After a few years working in the Beauty Industry, I finally decided it was time to fulfil my dream of working on a luxury cruise ship, and I applied to Steiner Leisure. 

In this post, I want to talk about misconceptions of Steiner & ships, and what I wish I had known before going.  Some of my expectations were very different from the reality.

Time off
When training, they make out like you will have all the time off in the world.  You can earn time off by hitting your target, and hitting your target is easy so you will have loads of money and hardly ever work. This isn’t the case. In the contract, you legally have to have 1 and a half days off, every 8 days.  This can be given to you in one full day or 3 half days and is up to your Manager to decide.

Some managers are brilliant at giving hours out and then letting you take them when you want to. Some managers are awful and hardly ever give hours out, and when they do, they decide when you will take it. 

The money
When I was at the Academy, I had a day spent learning how to work out commissions.  The teacher said to work to out my commission based on £7,000 in 7 days which would probably be our target. I worked out that I would be earning £3,000 a month. I was buzzing. However what she didn’t mention is the £7,000 target would be spread over 14 days, and £7,000 is a lot harder to hit than I originally thought

Now, everyone is under the illusion that working on a ship enables you to save loads because you have no rent, no food bills and no car.  While this is true, there are expenses you do have:

Of course, which you will need to contact home.  You can wait to get wi-fi when in port as it cheaper, but you won’t always find it, and won’t always be getting off the ship.

Food when outside
Of course, if you have a day off the ship, at some point you will get hungry, so most crew members find they spend a lot on eating out.

While in a lot of ports you will just get off the ship and have a mooch around. In others you will probably want to do an excursion.  These can cost anywhere from £30 to £500 so this is possibly another thing you will be spending your money on.

Deck privilege’s
I assumed that when on board, in my free time, I would be sunning myself by the pool and drinking a cocktail in the sun, or in the evening I would be going to see the show.  Now while I have been fortunate to have always been able to do this on whatever ship I have been on, I know other people are not so lucky. There are crew areas and guest areas and only certain departments are allowed in guest areas. 

For example, chefs, waiters and cabin staff are, for the most part not allowed in guest areas at all, whereas the spa staff, the Captain and Officers are allowed to roam freely.  Whether you are allowed in guest areas is up to your Manager, so it is not always the case that you can go up on deck and have a drink or sunbathe.  Find out if the department you are choosing to work in will allow you to go in guest areas.  No worries if not, it’s just nice to know what you’re getting yourself in to.

I thought the food in the mess would be good.
Cruise ships are renowned for serving up the best dishes, and whilst that is true for the passengers, for the crew it’s a little different. It is definitely quantity over quality. I am by no means a fussy eater, but there were days where I would struggle to find something I fancied.  Not from lack of choice, but often things would just taste very different to how you would expect them to.  For example, the veg didn’t taste like veg.  Probably because they had been out of the ground for so long.

Those are just a few things that I expected about ship life that proved to be a little different in reality.  I hope this gives you a more realistic view of working on ships and if you are thinking of working on them, or you are currently working on ships, I would love to know some of your misconceptions.

Hello, my name is Lucy, welcome to my little space on the internet! Through this blog, I hope to answer all of your crew-life/ cruising questions so, feel free to send me something you would like me to write about. I really hope you find this site useful and enjoyable!
Love Lucy xx

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