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How to Work on a Cruise Ship as a Couple (And Was It Worth It?)

A very much in-love couple who have a dream of travel and wanderlust, trying to see all 195 countries of the world.

Me and Mickey

Me and Mickey

We Wanted to Be Together

Two years ago, we found ourselves on a one-way flight to America, which was truly an eye-opening experience. This was our first time flying out of Africa, across an entire ocean, and directly into another culture. We had always wanted to travel. From the day we met, we talked about what it would be like to travel the world together. Somehow it was just something we both fell in love with.

Now, when we applied for the position, it was scary. Imagine being in a new relationship and applying for a job that you know is going to ensure you spend 90% of your day together. That's crazy! In a matter of two weeks, we went from a long-distance relationship to being together every single day. We loved it. Looking back, I can't remember a time without Mickey in my life, and if we were separated now for over a week or two, I would struggle.

What Happens on a Cruise Ship?

When we boarded this gigantic vessel that we would call home for the next five months, it looked like a spaceship. The crew areas looked so different from the guest areas. It was so intriguing to learn how everything worked.

Finding our routine would be the most important part of working on a ship. Our first month was the hardest; we worked seven days a week, 7–12 hours a day. This really took about a month to get used to. Also, we were "bunking" with other roommates, which was quite an inconvenience. Once we had our own little cabin to call home, it was smooth sailing from there on out.

Getting off the ship and exploring our ports of call was the best part of the job; this is where the travel bug clamped down on us. We loved all the new sights, sounds, flavors, and people waiting on the islands. Sunday was our favorite day: we would be docking at our home port, which just so happened to be New Orleans! This was a unique destination for us; with all the voodoo shops and palm readers, we felt like we were in an Originals episode. (The show was shot in New Orleans).

Cruise ship

Cruise ship

Perks and Downsides of Being a Crew Member

The perks are great, especially when it comes to discount codes and not paying rent. That's right: we didn't have to pay any rent or for our food. We got discounts in the store, and discounts on cruises. If that wasn't enough, we also had exclusive "crew-only" parties at least once a month, a "food party" every second week (where we got to eat the food from each country onboard), and our own private crew bar that we can visit any day of the week (that also gave us discounts on our drinks). Now that I'm reading this, it sounds like the perfect life!

Ship life did, however, have its drawbacks; for example, the hours. We worked many, many, many, many hours. I would say we worked 60–65 hours a week and seven days a week. Some weeks we worked more, but we never worked less.

Another drawback was the safety training, although this was absolutely necessary, and I am so glad we had to do it, even if it did mean we had fewer hours to sleep. As the training does not take place during working time, I guess it would have to occur during our sleeping time. Although when looking back at the actual job itself, we would say that the perks outweighed the disadvantages, and overall we loved every day we were onboard.

Getting Off the Vessel

In the very beginning, that very first week or two onboard, it is quite difficult to get off the ship for a few reasons. The first is that your first month is quite intense when it comes to safety training.

Any cruise line needs to make sure that each and every crew member needs to know exactly what to do in case of an emergency. Not only that, if the ship stops in a US port, all crew members require a specific document that allows them to get off. This document took us between two and three weeks to get, but once we had it, we were ready to go for the entirety of our nine-month contract!

Aboard the ship

Aboard the ship

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2020 Demi and Mickey