Working In The Shop’s Onboard A Cruise Ship

Like many jobs nowadays, you will apply online to whichever company you decide to work for. 

The main 3 companies that hire shop staff for cruise lines are called: 
-Harding Retail 
-Due free

The biggest difference between Harding and Starboard is the commission structure.
Working for Harding retail, if the whole team hits target then the whole team split the commission between each other. Although you may make a little less money than you would with Starboard, there are no fights over sales and it creates a brilliant atmosphere to work in.

Starboard give commission with each individual item sold, so the more you sell as an individual, the more you make.  To my knowledge, you can make a little more money with Starboard but because everyone will want to make the sales, in some cases it can cause a little tension. 

At the interview to be a shop assistant, you will be asked simple customer service questions and be briefed on living and working on a cruise ship. To my knowledge, you don’t need previous experience, but it is preferable. You may go to the interview with the expectation of being shop staff, but if you have had previous experience in the beauty industry or experience with liquor, you may be asked if you would like to go straight into a shop selling items you have knowledge on. 

Job description
There are a few different job descriptions within the shops

Promotional sales
Normally when you first start the job, if you have not interviewed for a specific job role, you will be put on promotional sales (promo). Basically, whenever the shops are open there will be tables set up just outside the shops with things that are on sale, like bracelets, bags, bikinis etc. This involves you manning the tables in sale hours and helping people with their purchasing. You will also be packing down and setting up the tables with new sale stock at the end of a shift for the next day promotions.

Although this job role doesn’t require much brain power there is a lot of heavy lifting involved as you will be bringing boxes of stock up and down from the stock room to the shop floor.
Depending on your manager you may have to give seminars to crowds that can be 3 people or 30 people. After working on ‘promo’ for a few months, if there is space in a shop due to someone finishing their contract, then your manager may allow you to move into a shop if that’s what you want.

Shop assistant
Working in a shop comes with a little more responsibility than promo but there is generally less heavy lifting. Looking after a shop includes making sure the shop is clean, the visual merchandising abides by company guidelines, helping customers with purchasing, counting the shop floor regularly in order to know what stock you have, and ordering stock that you are running low on. 

The main shops on a ship include:
-Essentials which will generally sell adapters, books, chocolate, suncream etc
-Electronics which will sell speakers, phones, headphones and electrical devices
-Costume jewellery which will generally stock Swarovski, Buckley, Pandora, Ted Baker
-Liquor and tobacco which will sell mainly spirits and a limited selection of wines and cigarettes
-Fashion which will sell shoes, bags and fashion, appropriate for the area you are cruising in
-Perfume and cosmetics
-Watch shop which will stock a selection of both high end and low-end watches
-Jewellery  shop which will sell a selection of high-end jewellery 

These are the basic shops you will find on board, but the bigger the ship the more shops it will have.

Only jewellery specialists can work in a jewellery shop.  You must have had previous experience working with high-end jewellery or be trained up by the company before you will be placed on a ship.  Some people start as a shop assistant and later in their ship career, they will have jewellery training and switch departments. 

Watch specialist
To work in the watch shop you must have an extensive amount of knowledge on watches and the brands.  To go straight into a watch shop you will need to have had previous experience selling watches, or after doing a contract as a shop assistant you can request watch specialist training with the hope of moving into the watch shop.

Assistant manager
If you are looking to progress after working for the company for a while, or you come into the company having had extensive managerial experience, then you can go into being an Assistant Manager. Like many companies, this job is about helping the Manager carry out his/her tasks.
That can be anything from helping members of the team with the upkeep of their shops, helping the manager with paperwork, shop counts, writing reports and being able to step into the managerial position if for any reason the Manager isn’t able to come to work.
Depending on the size of the ship there may be 1 up to 5 Assistant Managers. 

The highest position you can get within the shops onboard would be the manager.  You will be there to organise the team and make sure the shops run smoothly.  To do this you must have knowledge of how every department works, which can only be obtained by working in each department as a shop assistant, so Managers will have often bounced around from shop to shop during their time.

The best thing about the job
The time off.  This department is the best for time off because generally when the ship is in port the shops are closed so you have time off to get off the ship and explore whatever country you are in. Normally you’ll work 6 pm to 11 pm most port nights. 
The worst thing about the job
This depends on your job within the shops, but most people would agree that the counting of the stock is the worst just because its a little tedious.
A typical day at work
Sea day
The ship is at sea all day, which means the shops will be open.  You will most likely start at 8.50am, have a quick meeting and then open the shops at 9 am. There is normally a rush of people that come in from 9 to 10:30 and then the shops quieten down, so this is where you will get any jobs done that you need to do which could be cleaning, counting, bringing up more stock from the stock room, or ordering stock you are running low on.
For lunch, the team is split into groups A, B and C so everyone doesn’t go for lunch at once.  A will go 11.30-12.20, B will go 12.30 to 1.30 and C will go 1.30 to 2.30. The groups rotate every day so it’s fair.
The shops are usually busy from 12.30 to 4 pm depending on if it’s sunny or not.  If it’s raining the shops will be busier as everyone is escaping the rain.  While the shops are busy you will be helping costumers and putting sales through the till.
At 4 pm guests tend to go back to their cabins to start getting ready for their evening meal.
The shop staffs’ dinner break starts from 5:00 to 6:00 pm, 6:00 to 7:00 and 7:00 to 8:00.
By 8pm the shops are usually busy because everyone comes in after eating, and then at 9pm they go off to their evening entertainment.  For the last hour, it’s usually quiet so if you work in a shop you will have to clean, and if you are on promo you will pack down the stock from the tables that have been out during the evening and fill them with new stuff ready for the next day.

Port day
Opening time depends on when the ship sets sail but its usually 5pm or 6pm.  The shift will finish at 11pm or 12 midnight, depending on how busy the shops are.  If you start your shift before 6pm you will get a dinner break, and if you start after 6pm you will be expected to eat before you start work.
The shops are usually busy from opening time to 6.30pm.  They are quiet until about 8pm, and then they liven up again until closing. 

How much time off
Every port day, you will have time off in the morning and early afternoon, until the evening when the ship is at sea which is when you will start work.  If the ship is in a port overnight then generally the shops won’t open, so you will have the whole day off, which is rare but amazing. 

The monthly salary is around £700 and then commission can be earned on top of this to create a monthly average of £957.00. 

How long is the contract
The minimum amount of months is 6.  If you are enjoying the contract then you have the option to extend to a maximum of 8 months.

How long is the leave
This is completely up to you. I know people who have had 3 weeks and some that have 3 months.  It all depends on how much time you feel you need at home.  Also bear in mind, that while you are home, you are not being paid.  I think 2 months is a great amount of time.

Cabin staus
A shop assistant will share a cabin with another person in your team
An assistant manager will also share a cabin
Only the manager will have their own cabin and will also have a cabin steward who will come daily to clean the cabin.

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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