Monday, September 7, 2009

Cruise Ship Questions Answered

How long are the contracts for?Contracts can vary between 4-8 months depending on which cruise line you will be working for. After each contract you will have a work break that can range from 4-8 weeks. Work breaks are usually not paid, so be sure to put some money away for your vacation.

How much notice will I get if I am hired?The amount of notice you may get can vary. Positions are always coming up, some sooner than others. Emergency positions do come up that may only leave you with a few days notice, so be prepared!!! We will always try to give the crewmember as much notice as possible.

How will I get paid?Depending on the cruise line, you may be paid bi-weekly or monthly. You will need to take some cash, ATM card/and or credit cards with you to carry you through the first month. You’ll find you probably won’t use much, but better too much than too little. In most cases you will be paid in U.S. cash.

What about taxes? Income taxes are only withheld for American Citizens. As every country has different tax laws, we suggest you consult an accountant to find out your tax obligations.

What do I do about banking?You have a few options, you can open an account in your homeport, or in one of the ports in your itinerary. We suggest making money orders and sending them home to either a family member, a friend or directly to your bank. It is probably the smartest and safest option. As you are paid cash onboard, don't keep all your cash in your cabin. Some ships offer safety deposit boxes for crew - check with the crew purser onboard.

Who do I work for?Although you are techniclally an independat contractor, the cruise line or concession that hires you, will be your employer. Please take notice that all cruise lines have different rules and regulations that need to be followed. Failure to do so can result in dismissal.

How often will I be working?In most cases, you can expect to work 7 days/week and anywhere from 8-12 hours/day. Steiner spa employees will work 5 1/2 days/week, and 10 hours/day, musicians 3-5 hours/day.

What about my flight to the ship?Your flight to the ship may or may not be provided by the cruise line. Depending on the company policy, you may have to pay your way there, and upon completion of your contract, they will fly you home. Some cruise lines require you to pay your flight there, and upon completion of your contract, you will be reimbursed your flight, and flown home free of charge. Then there are some lines that will pay your flight to and from the ship!

Can I get mail?Every ship has an address. We can usually give you the address prior to departure. If not, you will receive the information onboard.

Can I make phone calls?There are phones on board, however we recommend using them for emergency use only. They are extremely expensive and could range up to $15.00 per minute. You will have access to crew calling centers at mostly every port.

What am I responsible for as far as living expenses?All your food and accommodations are provided. Cruise lines also provide medical insurance whilst under contract. You will be required to pay for any incidentals, souvenirs, as well as any alcoholic beverages.

Do I share a cabin?Yes, all the cabins are small and compact and are shared with one other person of the same sex. In some instances you may have to share with up to three people. Most cabins have a bathroom, however some bathroom facilities can be shared by up to four people. The cabins are cleaned with linen changed daily by your cabin steward.

Can I do laundry on the ship?Yes, you may have access to laundry facilities or a service will be offered for a nominal fee.

Do I have to wear a uniform?Yes, your uniform is supplied by the cruise line and will be given to you upon arrival to the ship. In some instances you nay have to pay for your uniform in which case it will be deducted from your salary.

Do I require special safety training prior to joining the ship?
Yes, most cruise lines will require you present an STCW-95 safety certificate or equivilent. Ask your cruise line or agency about this requirement.

Do I have to have a medical before I get on board?Yes, you have to complete a medical prior to leaving for the ship. The medical is a thorough exam that involves taking blood tests, urinalysis, blood pressure, eye, hearing and lung function tests, as well as a chest x-ray. They are testing that you are physically fit to work on board. Please note that a drug test will also be conducted. Failure of the medical or drug test will result in the termination of your contract. In most cases, it is your responsibility to pay for your medical exam, however there are some cruise lines that will pay for it, or reimburse you the expense.

Can I get off the ship while in port?Of course you can! When you have free time during the day you can get off the ship and do what you please, providing that you are not scheduled to work and that you are back on board by the required all aboard time for crew. This time is usually different than all aboard for passengers so check!!!

Can we socialize with the passengers?Depending on your position, it may be an integral part of your job, although it is important to note that fraternization with passengers (if caught)can be cause for immediate dismissal.

Can we drink in the passenger lounges/nightclub?Some positions have "passenger privileges" and some may not. If you don’t, you are not permitted to be in passenger areas when you are off duty. Positions that usually have deck privileges, such as officers, cruise staff, youth staff, merchandise, shoppies, photogs, pursers, entertainers, casino… are able to socialize with passengers in the lounges until your set curfew which will be given to you when you get onboard. Some ships do not allow staff to drink alcohol in passenger areas. Should you be found drunk while on duty or too drunk to perform emergency procedures, this will result in automatic dismissal...this means next are gone!!!!

Can we smoke in passenger areas?You cannot smoke whilst in any passenger areas. On many ships you cannot smoke in your cabin either. Fire is the number 1 danger onbaord a cruise ship so the ship takes these offenses very seriously. Only smoke in designated areas!!! If you are not sure...ask!

Is there a crew bar onboard?Yes, the crew bar and officer bar serves drinks until their particular set time, which may vary, from ship to ship. It is where you can relax and socialize out of sight of the passengers. There are usually various crew activities as well organized by various departments and the crew welfare committe onboard most ships.
Get involved...volunteer!

Can we use the passenger gym?This depends on whether you have passenger area priviledges, and if so, as a rule you can use the passenger gym. As long as you are not depriving any passengers of the facilities. Most ships have pretty good crew gyms as well.

Can we use the passenger swimming pools?As a rule aboard most ships you are not permitted to use the pool. Some ships do have a small crew pool at the front. Anytime that you would have to use the pool, you will probably also be able to get off the ship and sightsee, go to the beach or shop in port!!

Can the crew sunbathe onboard the ship?There will be designated areas on the ship for the crew to sunbathe. Remeber, most ports will be in sunny destinations so you can simply find your favorite beach!

Can family or friends come to cruise?Of course they can! Every cruise line has their own policies about visitors. There are discounts and it is usually based on employment /length/status and of course availability.

*some of the content in this piece is appropriated from additional sources.