Working aboard a Cruise Ship is like living inside a bubble, outside of reality and home life. You’ll be away from family and friends for months at a time and whilst the rest of the world continues to exist on a news channel and Facebook feed, you’re travelling, saving and exploring new ports of call.
There’ll be peaks and troughs during your stay aboard a Cruise Ship which includes feeling homesick, having amazing experiences you’d never be able to achieve back home, watching your bank account go further and further into the black, and also boredom. It’s not the life for everyone, but if you’re considering working on a cruise ship these are some useful pointers that will really help to pass the hours and also allow you to make the most of your time aboard.
1. Make new friends
In my experience, ship life is a happy environment. Everybody is in the same boat (pun unintended) and therefore we’re all a lot more open to making new friendships. It’s important to have at least one friend during a contract otherwise life can get a little lonely at times. On the other hand I share a cabin with Suzy and we are in each others pockets all day, every day. That’s something to think about with relationships - there’s no escape on board!
(For the record Suzy and I of course get along swimmingly)
I can only think of the time I walked the Camino de Santiago de Compostela when I made as many friends from different countries of origin as I have here. I’m so interested in others and living and working on a ship makes me all the more curious to learn from and befriends my international brothers and sisters.
Without a doubt, friendship will make Cruise Ship life all the more easier to thrive in and survive. For all the excursions, cups of tea and aprés work visits to the library, a friend is a must have and should be at the top of your list (I’m sure this goes without saying).
2. Find yourself a project
Working hours vary from position to position, but as a musician I predominantly work in the evenings to late at night. This means I have hours in the day to not only practice and learn new material, but to spend on something useful. Other than my designated ship-wide responsibilities, living on a cruise ship means I have fewer responsibilities than back home. For example, I no longer need to be concerned about household bills, buying the weekly shopping, even washing up. It’s a privileged position to be in and with respect to that, having a project will allow me to be productive. For us, our project has been to get this blog up and running and by putting so many hours into it we can see a simple idea develop into something not quite tangible but you know what I mean.
You can take or leave this one depending on how much free time you’ll have, but I would like to encourage you to see all the possibilities of taking on a project of any kind, be it knitting, learning a language, or even writing a musical.
3. Rediscover boardgames and card games (or get a PS4 and Fifa)
You may already be an avid player of Monopoly, but before I came on the ship I’d maybe play it once a year over Christmas time. Here, on board, boardgames and card games are a brilliant way to pass the time with others when there’s nothing else to do. Before you know it, an hour has passed during your game of Scrabble and it’s now time for lunch. (Playing Scrabble so often also develops your ability to find seven or eight letter words if you’re not already a superstar at it!)
Alternatively, there is always a game of Fifa, of which you can probably reach the year 2030 before the end of your contract.
4. Have a tv series boxset to work through
TV Boxsets, in particular Six Feet Under, has been a godsend for this contract. In between our hour long sets we have just enough time to watch an episode and we’re currently on season 4 of 5. For all those series, films and documentaries you’ve been meaning to watch for years, now is your time. Although some ships provide crew tv or even an on-demand service, your best bet is to bring with you what you want to watch.
I don’t think I’ve slept so well before in my entire life. At least consistently. The gentle rocking of the ship always sets me off into a light slumber, sometimes in the middle of the day. I’m also never in a rush to get to work as it’s less than two minutes walk to anywhere on the ship. This means I can sleep for longer and my body thanks me for those 8 hours instead of 6 which is what I probably get back home. Sleeping during all your free time is not advised but at least you now know it’s something you expect more of.