Why should anyone want to work on a cruise ship? Lots of reasons. Last post, I appealed to your ethos for why you should quit your day job. However, there are legitimately practical advantages to working on a cruise ship.
Your paygrade will depend largely on your position. Personally, mine was… paltry. But, that comes with minimal expenses. I didn’t incur any costs for my room, board, food, on-board medical, or travel. Plus, I rented out my house back home at a rate that covered the mortgage, a storage unit, and a little bit of pocket change. So, even though I was earning only half of my previous salary, I was able to save—almost dollar for dollar—the same amount. My daily expenditures were beer (which was cheap!), Internet (which was not cheap!) and day trips for wherever we were docked. Sometimes I would get a little spend-happy in port, but I never felt too guilty; I was essentially on a free trip, so $75 for a beach day in Cozumel with unlimited food and drinks wasn’t so bad, in the end.
Learn another language
You often hear that the most effective way to learn another language quickly, accurately, and nuanced(ly?) is immersion. I wasn’t smack dab in the middle of a Spanish-speaking country, but between two ships and exclusively Caribbean ports, it was almost necessary to learn some basic Spanish. Ten years of studying Latin made Spanish exponentially easier in my brain, but I think I would have learned what I needed to, regardless (ask me the intricacies of Bingo in Spanish. ¡No problema, amigo!)
Also, I didn’t try to learn the lingua franca on-board out of necessity, but also as a courtesy. There’s an inspirational sort of shame when 80% of the crew’s first language is not English, but they’ve staked their careers on their proficiency…oh, and they also speak four other languages. Not all ships have it, but mine offered free Rosetta Stone in a number of languages. During my breaks, when it was too early to drink at the crew bar, I’d devote time to Spanish. There’s differing opinions on the effectiveness of Rosetta Stone, but for me, it was useful. The lessons on subjects like directions, price, time, and locations were immediately applicable and helped me retain 99% of the info.
Plus, learning how to say ‘cheers’ in ten different languages is just a good party trick. Saúde! Proost!
3. Lose weight
By way of the Fitbit, I walked 20,000 steps in a typical day. Being on the largest cruise ship in the world likely played a role in the averages (quarter mile long, 17 decks). Dancing, believe it or not, was a big part of my job. Regardless, if you’re working on a cruise ship, in whatever role, you are going to be on your feet for most of the day. Pro-tip: invest in good shoes.
I didn’t bother trying to incorporate a healthy diet into the mix because the food options were limited and I was either in A.) survival mode (pasta! Every day!) or B.) vacation mode (authentic Mexican cuisine because Mexico!) Overall, I lost about 25 lbs in seven months, but if I’d ate better in my day-to-day schedule, I’m sure I could have done much better. As they say, you can’t out-run (or out-walk/out-dance, in my case) a bad diet.
4. Learn to Live the Minimalist Life
Space was limited, and it was no exaggeration to call my cabin smaller than a closet. Not only that, but I had a roommate for most of my contract. As with most things, you adapt. You learn to live with less and decide what is truly important to you. For me, in the preparatory phase of ‘quitting life to work on a cruise ship’, I was able to condense seven months of my life into one large suitcase, one carry-on, and one backpack. Aside from wishing for a lie-down bath once in a while, I didn’t really want for much.
I had a storage unit back home filled with all my furniture and belongings, but knowing that I could go without 90% of my worldly possessions was a rather liberating feeling. I suggest everybody give it a try once or twice.
The ‘pro’ list of working on a cruise ship well and truly could go on and on. It’s not without its drawbacks, but I’m infinitely happy that I chose to have my little adventure rather than let it pass me by.
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