Katherine, 24, had been a student at the University of Liverpool before being bit by the travel and adventure bug. She has been working on a cruise ship in Alaska, Fiji, New Zealand…and beyond. Here’s her great story about life at sea.
Before you went abroad, what job were you doing?
I was at University in Liverpool.
Why did you decide to work on a cruise ship?
I first worked on a ship briefly when I was 18, doing this gave me a taste of what working on cruise Liners would be like and all through University I knew I wanted to do it after I graduated.
What job did you do?
Began as Junior Assistant Cruise Director and was then promoted to Assistant Cruise Director for Princess Cruises which is the American branch of the P&O Cruises family.
How exactly did you find the job?
The Stage Newspaper then the P&O Cruises website.
What was your day to day routine?
Days can be split into 3 types – Sea Days, Port Days and Turnaround Days. Turnaround Days only happened once on a cruise as it’s the first day of each cruise when all the passengers arrive. It was very busy for everyone on the ship, we would be working usually from 7am to midnight greeting passengers as they embarked and disembarked the ship. Then we would do Ships tours, hold get togethers, the compulsory Safety Drills and then a big Sailaway Party (depending on the part of the world where we were sailing). Then in the evening we would be part of the welcome aboard show and also hold Welcome aboard Parties. Sea Days were packed full of various activities day and night from Line Dancing, sports tournaments, Ballroom Dance Lessons, Game shows etc. Port days were slightly easier as there was less entertainment running onboard so we were given time off on a rota basis. We would be back to work as soon as the ship set sail with more evening entertainment.
What was the salary like?
Considering you have no outgoings when you work on the ship the salary is fantastic.
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Would you recommend this type of job?
Yes, if you have the right kind of personality, this job doesn’t suit everyone. You need to have a great love of talking to people and a lot of confidence, sometimes you would be onstage in front of more than 1000 guests, so there is no time to be shy. You also need to be quick thinking and extremely versatile as your job covers numerous areas from dancing, bingo calling, ceramic painting, golf instruction – you name it we did it!
What’s the night life and social life like?
The social life is one of the best parts about working at sea. Overnight when you arrive on the ship you make very close friends. Although there is only one bar to go to (the crew bar) each ship has a Crew Club who organize parties and events for all the crew which everyone always makes a really big effort for. During my time on one of my ships there was an American Idol competition which all the crew got involved in, it felt as important as the real American Idol at the time!
Are there other things to do like sports/beach/tourist attractions?
I have travelled to Australia, New Zealand, Hawaii, Fiji, South Pacific, Alaska, Canada, Central America, California, Mexico, Caribbean, Florida, New York and New England on cruise ships so I think my recommendations may be too many to mention.
Tell us the 3 best and worst things about the experience working in…?
1. The places travelled to – for free!
2. Life on an ocean liner is luxurious and carefree even as a crew member you have your room cleaned, clothes washed, food made all as part of the package
3. Meeting so many new people from literally all over the world
1. Sea sickness (if you are prone to it which I am not!)
2. It’s really easy to put on weight as you do feel like you are on holiday and therefore tend to eat like you are – with a 24 hour buffet and pizza/burger bar at your disposal it’s hard not to!
3. Settling back into life at home, when you are used to someone else doing most everyday tasks for you, it takes a long time to start doing it yourself again!
Do you feel this experience will help you in your future career?
Working on ships is always a talking point for potential employers and shows a real sense of courage. It has also helped with my versatility, I’m known at my place of work now as the girl that does a bit of everything, I think my job at sea had a lot to do with that.
My knowledge of the world (well the places I have been to) also impresses many people.
Any tips for our readers?
Research what you want to do and make sure the job you are applying for is what you think it is. Some people saw Entertainment Staff as all singing all dancing which with Princess Cruises it isn’t (with some cruise lines it is). If you are going to work on a ship prepare for your life to change beyond recognition – obviously for the better!
Remember cruise ship jobs are not seasonal they are year round so don’t wait to apply for Summer Season, in fact the winter is usually the best time to work as the ships are all in the Caribbean!