You’ve got answers, and I’ve got some questions for you.

Just a quick morning blog to wipe the cobwebs from my mind. I thought I would answer some questions that have piled up. In the next blog I am going to “blog on” about balancing family life with ship life as many have asked about that.

Any advice for people who bring their laptop or other wireless device onboard? Yes in fact I do have. Don’t whine if the connection is slow. ;0) Honestly, wireless onboard is pretty good, and less restricted than other internet in the I-cafe, at least on Princess Ships. You can bring and use any wireless device. You have to be in the wi-fi zone which will be in and around the main atrium (on Princess) but I know on RCI and NCL they have alternate wi-fi zones not around the atrium so it’s more cozy for surfing. In any case don’t expect the same speed as you get at home. If you use your laptop at your company go see your IT guys at work FIRST and tell them you will want to hook up to the ships internet and to turn off your firewalls or anything else specific to your company network.

How many days on and off do crew get? We don’t, we work every day for four to ten months depending on your nationality and contract length. For example I do six month contracts, Philippine’s do ten. You only get a day off if your sick and then you’re confined to your cabin. Medical treatment onboard for crew is excellent and free. If your desperately sick and need to go home it’s all covered by the company and when your well again they put you back to work on another ship.

Does the Captain actually read those letters to the Captain? Yes and no. Most letters to the Captain are complaints from passengers who think the Captain runs the ship alone. Technically he does, however only as the Master of the vessel because of maritime law. He is in charge of safety and that is a huge responsibility. All our lives are his problem. But the operation of the ship as a whole requires many senior officers. So yes he reads them, he has to, but he is probably just going to hand it down to the person in charge of the department you’re complaining about. For example if you went to the Pursers Desk and screamed and yelled and didn’t get what you wanted, then you wrote the Captain complaining about your lack of satisfaction, that letter is only going to end up with the PSD ( Passenger Services Director) who runs the hotel. Basically right back where you started because he is going to give it to the First Purser (second in charge of the hotel) and he is going to give it to the Senior Assistant Purser in charge of passenger relations or the Pursers Desk, and they are going to give it to the Assistant Purser (Front Desk Manager) who is probably the person you already screamed at. So like I said in a past blog, the desk holds all the cards if you have a hotel complaint. If you’re writing the Captain about other things, like safety questions or ship comments he will hand it down another chain of people. In any event someone will always get back to you, just maybe not who you wanted. If you have an absolutely outstanding Captain like we do on the Pacific Sun right now, he might actually pick up the phone and call you himself to answer your questions. It depends on the man (or woman).

Can I grease a palm and get a bridge or engine room tour? No. Not going to happen. Not ever. Don’t waste your breath or ink on it. Give it up. Let it go. Forget it. Move on.

If I give cash to a crewmember for tip do they have to share it? Yes, they should share it. Go back to my blog about tipping. Just let the automatic tipping do its job. It’s fair for everyone that way and does not cause troubles. If you want to do automatic gratuity AND still give a ten spot to “Joe” for whatever reason then feel free to do so. Will Joe put it in his pocket or give it to his supervisor for the gratuity pool? Hummmm…. Anyone’s guess. ;0)

How much do crew pay for things onboard? Well, there are too many things to list. My first answer should be “too much” but that might not be fair. We are a source of revenue for the company just like passengers but we do get discounts and sometimes free tours if we go along in a “guide” capacity assisting along the way which is not so bad. If you do a free tour as crew you also have to complete a company assessment and review of the tour for the Shorex Manager so there is value in them allowing the odd free escort tour. Keep in mind we only pay for things like alcoholic drinks, or items from the gift shops. All our food (unlimited amount), lodging and etc are free. It’s actually a pretty good deal.

Someone also asked me about the Dawn Princess and what I think of her because they are going on her soon. I love the Sun class. That’s what we call that “style” of ship. The Dawn, Sun and Sea are the most unique looking (coolest looking) cruise ships around I think. They are beautiful inside as well. They are neither the newest out there, nor the newest in the Princess fleet but they are well maintained and I think you made a good choice. Wherever you stop you will see your ship stand out from the rest and everyone will come and look at it. It’s kind of fun. My favorite bar onboard is the wheelhouse. It has such a nice feel to it. From a crew point of view, everyone loves those ships. But that’s assuming we also like the PSD, Captain and other senior officers. For us it’s who is onboard that can make a ship a great contract or a hellish one!

Ok so that’s some Q&A for today. Keep your questions coming; I find it interesting what people actually want to know about the cruising world. It is such a huge industry but still such starvation for real information. Funny that!
7 Responses
  1. Anonymous Says:

    Hi, love this blog. Are ou still working on the Pacific Sun and if so how much longer are you on the Pacific Sun? Also in regards to auto tipping, on the Pacific Sun do the room stewards and waiters ect know if you take it off your card or reduce it?

  2. Anonymous Says:

    There seems to be so many more men than women in visable jobs. Is this a plan by the cruise industry?

  3. Anonymous Says:

    I very much enjoy your blog! You are an excellent writer. We love to cruise and it is very interesting to hear the other side of the industry. Being a woman, I have a terrible time "letting" our steward clean our room and care for our stuff. I always want to clean before he does and feel guilty if I leave the room in any kind of mess. Do they resent people who make a mess and leave it for them?

  4. Donna Brown Says:

    One more question about tips and things - some people I've talked to bring along international calling cards for their room stewards (and I guess any other crew member they want to give one to?!) as a gesture of appreciation above the automatic tip. The idea is that it is something of value that the crew member doesn't have to share into the gratuity pool. Is this a good idea or not?

  5. HI

    Yes phone cards are EXCELLENT tips and no, they can not tell if you remove yourself. only the desk officers know and they are not allowed to divulge the info.

  6. Anonymous Says:

    "...if you went to the Pursers Desk and screamed and yelled and didn’t get what you wanted, then you wrote the Captain complaining about your lack of satisfaction, that letter is only going to end up with the PSD ( Passenger Services Director) who runs the hotel."

    Hee. Exactly. I always giggled at the people who thought the ultimate trump card was, "I DEMAND to speak to the captain!" As the old saying goes, Do you want to speak to the guy in charge, or do you want to speak to someone who knows what's going on?

    The captain doesn't care one iota whether you get your desired dinner seating or not. He's worried about stuff like, y'know, the weather and docking conditions and SAFETY. 99% of all guest complaints are going to be punted to the Guest Relations Manager or equivalent. Believe me, s/he is far more equipped to help you with that wonky A/C in your cabin than the captain is.

    --Nurse Betty

  7. Anonymous Says:

    I have to say I HAVE once had a tour of the Bridge. This was on Thomson Spirit in the Red Sea last year. I've never seen them offered before & understand that this is for security reasons. We were escorted at all times.

    I'd still like a tour of the engine room as and when some cruise line can work out how to do it safely. I'd put up with being searched if necessary


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