So what happens on a cruise ship? How does life on-board differ to life on land? It really depends on what kind of lifestyle you were living in prior to being on the ship and I’ll help you answer some stuff you’re wondering about based on my experience!
Travel time to work
A little background story before I start. Your girl here has been living by herself for a while, even before starting work on the ship. I moved to the city when I was 20 years’ old to study and I’ve been living by myself ever since. Well technically I shared the house with my housemates but everything I do on my own. When I started studying I didn’t have a car so I relied on my own two feet and a lot of public transport to get around and even when after I bought a car I still prefer to drive to the train station and take the the train to the city. So that being said, the biggest difference for me when comparing life on-board vs. life on land is not really the distance. Like yeah, I used to visit family every 2 months or so for maybe, 3 days and drive back to the city vs. only being able to go back home every 6 months but staying on for 2 months (they’re all sick of me now I think) but really, the time and distance to go to your workplace is huggeee.
I used to wake up at 6.45 a.m. and leave my house around 8 a.m. to drive to the train station. I arrive to work at 9.15 a.m. On the ship, I can wake up at 7.45 a.m. and be at the crew mess to eat at 8.30 a.m. and at work by 8.50 a.m. There was once when I was living alone in the cabin that I overslept and woke up at 8.40 a.m. I was in the morning briefing by 8.50 a.m., lol. So yes, your workplace is literally 5 minutes away when you’re on the ship vs. an hour away or something ridiculous like that. My roomie and I would complain that the crew mess is TOO FAR when really, it’s just a 5 minutes’ walk, haha.
When I was working at home, I used to eat really badly because one, I was alone and too lazy to cook for one person, the better, more nutritional meals were expensive and sometimes it is more convenient to just order fast food. I would buy nasi lemak (traditional Malaysian food consisting of coconut milk cooked rice and condiments) for breakfast, have Mamak for lunch (mostly rice, curry, fried chicken and salted egg) and something simple like noodles for dinner. Some days I’ll scratch my head thinking about what to eat which right now doesn’t happen anymore because everything is done for you! We’re so spoiled, haha. The crew gets wholesome food on board and while sometimes the food gets repetitive, it’s healthy enough (if you want it to be). There’s always fruit and salad bar, we get soups (usually Filipino sabaw or some random Ukrainian/Serbian fare), rice and other stuff like fish, chicken, beef, sandwiches etc. We also get a pizza parlour everyday but not on every ship so if you like being pizzas, it’s a treat!
The comments that I received before I left was either I was going to “drink seawater and starve” or that I was going to “get so fat” but well. For those of you who are worried that you might not lead the same healthy lifestyle you had before you left, fear not! There’s the crew gym and also the passenger gym (for those of you with deck privileges) plus there’s always crew health initiatives on-board (eg. yoga, zumba, etc.)
We also have TV in our cabins so we don’t exactly “die of boredom” on the ship not to mention lots of crew activities! There were crew bingo, karaoke nights, wine and cheese nights, latin disco nights, etc. plenty of stuff to keep you occupied. Back home, most activities calls for money, except maybe walks in the park and stuff.
Like laundry and cleaning your room. I used to do the same when I was living alone but heck, I only cleaned my room when I feel like it. As for the ship, we have crew rounds every week which meant that the room will have to be spick and span when the inspectors come around. The space is small and you do share the load of cleaning with your roommate so it’s not much but still. Apart from that, you don’t do much cleaning – you don’t even need to clean your plate after you eat.
Perhaps this is a little more substantial when comparing life on the ship and at home. I used to work a 5 day week and have weekends off to just chill and be lazy. On the ship, free time is a luxury and even a 30 minute nap is Godsend. Privacy would be another thing I would like to talk about. You get to be alone most of the time at home if you’re living alone but on the ship, you’re likely to be sharing the cabin with another colleague. Your space is also their space and while there’s always curtains around your bed to give you a little privacy, you basically most of the time together.
You go to work and at most spend around maybe 60 hours a week with your colleagues but when you’re on the ship, you literally see each other all the time. You work everyday together, probably live together, eat together, party together, you get the gist. There’s definitely groups of people who hang out more often together but you can’t escape the fact that you need to live if not co-exist with the same people for long periods of time. You tend to make really close friends and sometimes enemies for others but oh well, people come and people go – if you really can’t stand someone, just remember that they will leave too. Can’t say that for your colleagues working on land though, you just don’t know when they will leave, haha. Culture and upbringing are also a whole lot diverse on the ship as we are most of the time exposed to only the majority of the locals where we come from but nope, it’s like a huge melting pot on-board. There’s so much to learn from each other and as long as everyone is considerate and respectful it’s easy to get along.
The little extras
When you live with such a huge community there’s bound to be some unwritten rule or “mafia” business going on. Need a local SIM card? Looking for the noodle guy? It’s useful to ask around and know more people – it does help to have some connections on-board. As for going around the ports, did I mention shore excursion escorts? It’s basically a volunteer position which you can sign up for during your time off. If you’re selected, you are able to go on shore excursions with the passengers – in exchange for a little bit of your time in helping out the shore-ex team. One of the best ways to enjoy the ports as you literally go for free on the tours!