Your cruise ship entertainer has a whole other life when she leaves the stage.(Photo: Thinkstock)
On my last sailing, I caught up with one of the entertainers, a talented young woman who sings and dances in musical reviews on the ship a couple of times a week. Since I’ve only experienced what it’s like to be a guest on a ship, and not a crew member, I had a lot of questions. And the answers? Well, I thought she’d say how much better the crew bar is than the one guests frequent, and while it is, there were some even juicier revelations. Read on for the scoop on what it’s like to work onboard and what really goes on when guests are asleep.
What’s the one thing passengers really don’t get about your job?
I think it takes them a long time to realize that we’re the entertainers as well as entertainment staff. Entertainment staff oversee all the activities, such as trivia, bingo, crafts, watercolor painting, golf and shuffleboard. We’re the ones at all the doors greeting people, and dealing with immigration. We host the events in the evening, such as karaoke. Any activity that’s fun we oversee. Basically, we do everything besides serve the food.
What do passengers do that bothers you the most?
They always say, “You should go and do this professionally.” We get this a lot. I always turn around and say, “This pays way more than Broadway. I’ve done Broadway, and it won’t pay my rent.”
Texting while walking on a cruise ship is never a good idea. (Photo: Thinkstock)
What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever seen on a ship?
A person fell overboard in port. She was on her cell phone. She wasn’t wasted; she was texting. And she was so distracted by her phone that she walked right off the deck. She was okay; she was just shaken up.
What is the funniest thing passengers say?
They ask, “Do you live on the ship?” Like we get off and get back on every day — that’s a funny one.
Also, because of my age, I hear: “If you get sucked into this, you’re never gonna find a man.” I want to say there are 10 girls on board and 300 men in the crew. If I want to find a man, that’s not a problem.
Do crew members ever hook up with guests?
I’ve heard about it, but I have never seen it. It did happen in the past on ships, ten years ago. Since then, the lines have gotten a lot stricter with policies.
A walk on the deck at sunset can definitely spark romance between crew members. (Photo: Thinkstock)
What’s it like to date at sea?
The men are especially chivalrous. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: “I would never date another American again.” European men come home, they take their uniforms off, hang them up — everything is always nice and neat. They have great manners, and they take pride in their jobs.
A ship is a melting pot. I will say, “Oh, I hooked up with this person,” and my friend will say, “Oh, I did too.” A lot of people will hook up, and then they get off the ship in a month, and meet someone new. One of my coworkers refers to her “boyfriend,” but he’s not a real boyfriend; he’s a “ship boyfriend.”
What don’t passengers know?
Two of my coworkers are gay. They’re married to each other, but guests assume that one of them is married to me when they see their rings.
What do you like about your passengers?
I enjoy them; they’re educated. They’re wise.
New people on the boat means new people to meet. (Photo: Thinkstock)
What surprises you about the crew?
When fresh meat comes onboard, the crew gets excited. New people are coming on next week, and everyone is so excited.
What makes you sad?
I have been onboard when guests die. Someone said on the last sailing, “I’m going to go soon, and I feel like I will be more taken care of here than in a nursing home.” That’s quite common for older people to say that to me. They’ve got someone to assist them and check their room every day. And basically, it’s cheaper than a home. You’ve got all those people caring about you, and looking out for you. I’d do it. I’d rather go that way than in a home.
What surprised you the most when you first started working on ships?
It wasn’t the guests. Everything I thought about the entertainers was true — how they’ve become my family, how busy we are, but how well we’re treated. But I didn’t realize that the entertainers would be the only Americans. And I just love that there are crew members of so many nationalities. They know so many languages, it puts us Americans to shame.
Crew members usually have a few drinks to unwind at the end of the day. (Photo: Thinkstock)
Is there anything else happening below deck that would shock passengers?
There are no drugs. I don’t think people chance that at all. We get drug and alcohol tested a lot so it’s not worth it. We all have a drink or two after work in the crew bar to unwind — sometimes more, but not always. Sometimes there are arguments over men, or people drink too much. But we all look out after each other, and we take care of each other. It’s a great life.
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