Verification submitted with the mods.

To elaborate, I'm someone who has spent the better part of a decade working in the tourist business on various cruise lines, and at wilderness lodges in Alaska and the Yukon.

I think it's well known that this is a tricky industry with a lot of darker aspects. Maybe less well known is the lifestyle of employees below your feet.

Ask me anything.

*Alright guys this has been a blast. Unfortunately I'm getting on a ferry and will soon be out of service area. If you'd like, keep submitting questions and I'll answer as many as I can later when I'm back in civilisation.

Thanks again. Didn't realise there'd be so much interest in the chaos that is my career. Cheers!

Comments: 1476 • Responses: 53  • Date: 

van_Zeller960 karma

I met a girl once who told me that, in many ways, cruise ship work is like a trap. You get on the boat and you work your ass off, spend very little money and thus earn a lot. Once this trip is over, you return home, but there is no work quite like it (and none that pays as well). So you get on another boat.

As time goes by, you become specialized, the pay gets better, but all the while your friends ashore have moved on with their lives and you were not there, so your connection with them fades. Instead you make new friends in each boat you're in, but it's people that perhaps you will never see again.

The last thing she told me was that all the people on the boat are constantly bitching that they want to return home. But when they're home they immediately get on another boat, because for them, there is no "home".

Any comments?

oglach966 karma

Dead on. It's a cycle.

Every time I get finished with a contract I'm like well fuck all that noise. I'm out. I've retired from the industry about 10 times.

Then after a few months, you're bored. Normal jobs are monotonous. People are dull. You wake up in the same place every day. You just feel stimulated.

The joke is that in October we all hate our jobs, and we're done forever. By December we're thinking it wasn't so bad, and by May we're back on the fucking boat.

rational_industrious472 karma

Thanks for doing this, I read your comments in that other thread and they were incredibly interesting.

Okay, so, when I was on a cruise to Alaska, they had signs on the ship saying not to into the crew area even if you're invited. Does this happen a lot? Do the crew and guests occasionally hookup?

oglach675 karma

I was waiting for this one.

Oh boy. This is a very big issue. Of course there's the desire to do so. We've all been on this fucking boat with eachother for months. We've all banged each other and are tired of it. Frequently we get some attractive options rolling through the ship.

But this is one of the first things you're told. If you do it, you're done. No exceptions. You can not slap meat with a guest. Does it happen? Of course. People will always find a way. But it's discrete.

There's been a few times I've befriended guests and hung out with them after work. I'd always like to take them to the crew bar because it is way cheaper. But it's also frequently a real-life equivalent of the Mos Eisley Cantina. Can't let them know the truth.

1salamander7239 karma

Have you ever seen this happen to a coworker? Getting fired for having sex with a passenger, that is.

Edit: How does firing work on a cruise ship in the middle of a voyage?

oglach374 karma

Several. Folks in the massage department were particularly prone to getting fired that way. And as for what happens then, it can vary based on offense. If you've really fucked up they'll get your shit for you and disembark your ass at the next port.

Also depends on citizenship, of course

1salamander7137 karma

Does the passenger get punished in any way?

oglach730 karma

Yeah, with a long list on STDs.

KennyLog-in362 karma

OP has verified with the mods.

Viking83219 karma


oglach138 karma


elonepb324 karma

Saw in the other thread that you said cameras are always watching. I snuck into the spa area where the massage table was on several nights with girls I met on the cruise. Made a lot of mess.

Are you saying they had this on video? Gulp.

oglach684 karma

Most likely. And we're proud of you. Get 'em tiger.

oglach324 karma

Requesting some patience on answers folks, doing this on mobile now. I've been forced to go mobile by the horrors of Alaskan wifi.

kevinbosch300 karma

Where you at? I mean, specifically what city and bar/coffee shop? My guess, The Viking in Juneau.

oglach566 karma

...I literally just walked past the Viking. Get out of my head.

guest139311 karma

I'm about to go on my first cruise. what is something you wish all passengers would know but you could never tell them?

oglach701 karma

Say hello and smile. That's the same thing they tell employees, but it's what I tell my friends when they go on cruises. Don't just walk up to employees and yell drink orders or take hor d'oeuvres off their trey like they're not there. Say hello, smile, and make your requests. It makes our lives better, and that makes your trip better.

We're only human. If you're going to treat employees like garbage they're not going to be overly eager to tend to your desires. If you're friendly and talkative, they'll seek you out and do their best to make sure you're having the best time possible. Trust me.

Mr_Sorter286 karma

What's the worst thing you witnessed on the ship?

oglach509 karma

Well that would depend on how dark we want to go.

Probably the single worst thing I've witnessed as far as something in the public eye was a particularly bad outbreak of the Norovirus in the midst of a cruise tour a few years back. Up around 20 people wandering around firing volleys of dull coloured liquid out every hole on their bodies at the speed of sound.

Of course they were quarantined and kept away from everyone else, as usual. But still, when the breakout was in full swing it was horrible. People would just be hanging out on deck or in the casino and then it'd hit them like a freight train. And the quarantine rooms after they left...oy.

Mr_Sorter208 karma

If someone dies do you guys carry the body around or just leave it at a random port?

oglach348 karma

Generally we'll take the body on board with us unless a relative requests otherwise. Frequently the dead are cruising with family and they typically just want to get off as soon as possible and take care of the corpse personally.

Lost4468121 karma

What legal rights do you have in terms of quarantining someone? Surely they could say it was a form of kidnapping?

oglach378 karma

Captain is God at sea. We're not generally under anyone's laws, but that's not to say we don't follow them. We quarantine for the good of the guest and those around them. It'd be utterly irresponsible and dangerous not to quarantine them, no government would try to pressure us in another direction

locke-peter98 karma

Give us something really good and dark. :) We desire to see the dark heart of the souls of men!

oglach410 karma

The story I was telling earlier in morbidreality was an incident where a teenage girl met a guy she fancied on the boat. They discovered later that they were roomed right next to each other. Anyway, later that night she wanted to go to his room but couldn't leave through the main door or else wake her parents.

So she opted for the balcony. Tried to climb over and leap to his balcony. Slipped, and fell about 16 stories to the ocean below. She was never recovered.

That was a pretty dark event.

convenientalias222 karma

What is the biggest thing you would watch out for if you were a passenger instead of an employee?

oglach344 karma

Norovirus. Don't fuck with the walk. Sanitize.

Mr_Presibro221 karma

How many passengers have you slept with?

oglach577 karma

Officially? None. Unofficially? Many to a lot.

Montezum87 karma

please say more about that?

oglach277 karma

I was actually dating a girl from back home when I first came aboard. If you're unaware, tourism work is a fuck fest. Everyone is humping everyone. But for the first two years I was dedicated to my girlfriend and didn't cheat. After that went to hell I went off on a pretty decent tangent.

I've never banged a guest on the boat. That's risky and will get you fired. On my days off or when I was working on the pier...that was a different story. I've met more than a few guests off the boat for drinks/quickies in the tour shack.

After a while it all got pretty gross. I checked out on the casual pound fest before I dick started growing mushrooms on it.

nflnflnfl81 karma

Were you not using a condom?

oglach228 karma

I've double wrapped and still ended up pouring listerine on my dick.

glasgow_girl244 karma

There's your problem. Double bagging causes tears in the condom.

oglach290 karma

Where were you 3 years ago to tell me that? What good are you?!

NevaMO17 karma

It ain't a fuck fest if you go with your girlfriend and her family -_-

oglach223 karma

Not with that attitude.

kingbob12213 karma

How is the food stored and prepared on a cruise ship? i work in fast food, and i was wondering if it was better or worse than how we prepare it there.

oglach351 karma

I honestly didn't work in that department, but it is effectively stored and restocked at every new sailing. At the very worst, the food can occasionally be left out a bit too long at the buffet. But not often with the way guests eat.

bencordoza203 karma

Most annoying customer?

oglach395 karma

I've been staring at this question for about 10 minutes trying to choose one specific guest. I really don't know. I've been choked, spit on, harassed and insulted. Looking back and trying to choose just one of those people to throw overboard would be impossible.

armand11161 karma

Jesus, choked? What caused that kind of reaction?

oglach256 karma

Some other employee giving bad directions. I just happened to be walking by with a name tag.

PmMeYourPussy92 karma

How did you respond?

oglach416 karma

I really couldn't do anything. His arm looked like it snap like a stale tortilla chip if I moved it. I just kinda stood there.

I'm not the dramatic type. Not like he could actually hurt me. Guy was as old as the Parthenon.

dyrosto196 karma

What happens when a passenger is discovered to be missing?

oglach306 karma

Security checks camera footage, calls are made to the most recent port to see if they've been left behind. Frequently someone just missed their boat and it's all well and good, but then there's the few times where something has actually happened. At that point the footage comes into play.

SuperGhoulsNGhosts166 karma

Did you ever get stowaways?

oglach362 karma

Never had one on my boat, but it does happen. If they're caught they're booted off at next port.

We also have guests with a lot of money who book rooms for months or even a year and just ride our ship all over the place. They basically live on board.

JesusCrist158 karma

Whats a massage gig like there?

oglach296 karma

Dirty. Fruitful, as well. You'll get paid and tipped well.

Just be prepared to get some fucked up requests. Old people are not as sweet as you think..

NM_Alpinist101 karma


oglach327 karma

I mean, I never dealt with it. But if you ever ask one of those poor girls about the shit they God. One girl was telling me the guy offered her like $500 for a happy ending and said he could get her a greencard (she was Estonian)

Like I said, fruitful.

junkerjay152 karma

In /r/morbidreality you wrote that death/people going overboard wasn't uncommon. Does any of these incidents still haunt you or were you just used to it at some point so that it doesn't affect you any more?

Thanks for the AMA

oglach275 karma

I've been faced with mortality a few times over. In a way they've all affected me in a certain way, but it's not really something I can do much about. Sometimes it's weird. Like there was a particular incident where I man slipped on the gangway and died due to a head injury. A week later I was back there watching that same gangway go down on that same pier. Blood was gone, guests were having a great time. Everyone blissfully unaware. But I still look at that spot and think about it.

Honestly, I'm perhaps a bit too used to seeing death. I grew up in Northern Ireland and saw plenty of it there as well. It doesn't haunt me anymore so much as it just gives me pause for thought.

Beatleboy6294 karma

I swear, almost every accident I hear with people on cruises always has something to do with the gangway.

oglach181 karma

The gangway is the most deadly predator native to cruise ships. Don't underestimate it.

IAmMostDispleased136 karma

Not waiting for verification due to the eloquence of your other comments on the subject.

I've heard that some (many?) cruise employees are actually highly educated individuals from countries that have fallen on hard times. This may only apply to crew in EMEA regions. What's the general make-up of crew you've worked with?

Following on - what's the feeling between crew and passengers, from the crew side?

There was a famous incident of a musician taking charge of a rescue operation after a cruise ship ran aground and the captain basically avoided all responsibility. (I'll find the reference and post it. It's - Thanks FuctUp!) Would you? What's the feeling amongst crew about running into trouble?

You spoke of our being unable to believe the limits of human stupidity of passengers and their antics. Can you supply some best-of stories and why you think they leave their brains on shore?

oglach224 karma

  1. Absolutely true. Most of us are very educated people who just couldn't find work in our chosen careers. At least the people guests deal with are. The general make-up of people I've known is evenly divided between people who are just working what they see as an odd job before their real life begins. Other people are just lifelong wanderers who can't stomach the idea of a real job or commitment to anything. It's perfect for them.

  2. It varies. To be honest, most of us really dislike them. Because 70% of them are rude and hostile. I've seen guests doing incredibly inhuman shit to my co workers. We get defensive of eachother, honestly a bit cliquey, and tend to see the situation as us and them. However, that's not the full situation. There's that 30% of guests that really make it all worth it. Most of us are really in the industry because we love meeting new people and getting to know them. If we reach out to guests and they reach back, then that makes all the difference. But we can't be the only ones to do it, we can't make them enjoy themselves.

  3. We're all trained. Over and over again. And we're always trained to help guests first. The staff is always going to do the bulk of the rescue work because we're the ones trained to do it. If it came down to reality, who could truly say what would happen. But that's the situation.

  4. I've seen guests tumble over the side of water taxis while trying to get a picture of the boat ID. I've seen them standing on railroad tracks trying to get a picture of the oncoming steam train. I've seen someone trying to handfeed a hamburger patty to a wolf. It's endless. And the god...the questions.

johnnySix30 karma

You mention the guests are often rude and hostile. Are some routes worse than others? Or are types of people worse than others?

oglach86 karma

The Alaskan route is the worst, simply because it's mostly elderly people from New York with little patience for the laid back nature of things up here. Caribbean is easiest, because people just like to sit around and drink on the open sea. Alaska has few sea days. People are restless and cold.

Innovationwarp121 karma

I was thinking about getting a degree in sound engineering (or something in that field) then doing contract work on cruise ships either in the main theatre or the clubs. Application sites outlined very good pay and it is something I would enjoy... Would you recommend this as an option?

oglach193 karma

Absolutely. I always recommend pursing work on cruise ships. It can be tough and chaotic, but it's also the best time I've ever had. If you like to party, you'll party hard. If you like travelling, you're getting paid to do it. It's worth the hard work.

hero0fwar115 karma

Were you higher up or just a day to day worker? I have heard that the 'average' employees don't really make any money other than enough to get by on cruise lines, is that how it is?

oglach205 karma

It's true that the pay is...not so great for day to day guys. I was in a middle to upper level position. I'm in a supervisor position now in shore operations.

I've always felt bad for the day guys. They do 90% of the work for jack shit while my coworkers and I sat up top and browsed the web all day.

SparkleBAM110 karma

What is the worst part of working on a cruise ship?

oglach207 karma

The isolation. You're gone for months at a time lumbering along on this oversized hotel that you can't really leave.

My first two contracts I had a girlfriend back home. I had an apartment. A whole real life, but no way to access them outside my floating bubble. It's like the world doesn't exist outside the boat. It's just all there is.

DaddyFucksMe59 karma


oglach319 karma

It does. I've never been one to cheat so infidelity wasn't an issue. But being apart is. I've essentially given up on dating due to my job. Dating on the boat is folly. It ends badly. So I just accepted that I can't really date and will probably die alone face down on the wet floor of a pub toilet.

axxokiller105 karma


oglach199 karma

If you're not in the bathroom or in your stateroom, we're watching. That's a reality. But no, if you're in your room you're not on camera. Otherwise they're hidden everywhere. The ones you can see are the tip of the iceberg.

As for the worst thing we've seen as the girl I mentioned in the other thread. Falling off the ship 16 stories into the black down below. That was supposedly pretty surreal to watch.

Other than that we've seen some people piss all over the place and old ladies giving handjobs. You know, the regular.

icecoldcream42 karma

Old ladies giving handjobs? To whom?

oglach569 karma

Old men, I assume. Maybe a banana platter if their vision is bad.

BringInTheCloser94 karma

What is the average salary for a regular crew member?

oglach179 karma

It totally depends on what you're doing. It can get as shitty as $800 a month to well over $8,000. The housekeepers, cooks, and cleaning staff make fuck all. It's sad really, but given that most are from pretty disadvantaged countries $800 a month is probably decent.

ParadoxicalManatee90 karma

Oglach, I'm going on a cruise soon. Not by choice, I hate boats. How scared should I be?

I think it's ridiculous that a cruise ship can do those things you've mentioned and never face any sort of legal trouble. Have you ever seen a cruise line get the justice they deserved? Do they EVER lose a lawsuit?

oglach191 karma

You shouldn't be scared. Cruise ships are more like floating villages than anything. They've all got very ample medical provisions and facilities, and everything is planned and coordinated very well.

I said it in that thread earlier, but i'll say it again for measure. Literally millions of people sail with us every single year, and we only ever have a few incidents in any given season. It's safe.

As for the lines getting some comeuppance from the law, I've heard of a few, yes. There's times when something happens that is clearly our fault, like when those boats recently died in the water. Or when that idiot ran his ship aground in Italy. It happens all the time, we're actually under a lot of scrutiny. Rightfully so.

Howmydiktaste6987 karma

This is one of the more interesting AMAs; thanks.

What got you started in the tourism industry? Did you study hospitality management, or work in the restaurant industry? What kind of jobs did you work within the tourism industry (specifically on the cruise lines). Who did you work for; and if you worked for multiple companies, who were the better employers?

As someone who has worked a variety of jobs in the restaurant industry who has recently transitioned into sales, I have thought about working on a cruise line - specifically bartending. If you have comparable experience as a landlubber, what are your thoughts on the two? If I decided to pursue this for a year or two, how should I prepare stateside? Give up my apartment, throw my shit in a storage unit, and just go with the flow? Or does some serious planning help?

What kind of debauchery takes place? The normal get drunk fuck the waitress on a sack of potatoes in the walk-in, or some crazy shit like a circle jerk at the poker table while the chef is cutting lines of coke on the bar with two guests giving him a double bj?

oglach133 karma

  1. Honestly I got into this because I love people. I love meeting people from strange places and getting to know them. I love hearing stories and having conversations. I'vealso always loved traveling, so a career that combined those two loves seemed natural. On the boats I was always part of the Shore Excursion staff. The people who build, sell, and plan the tours. Sounds dull but being the guy who sells your product makes the operators kiss your ass pretty hardcore. On my 23rd birthday I was flown up to the top of Alaskan glacier with a bunch of friends by helicopter. For free. We sat high up over the world getting wasted and having snowball fights. That's something I'd never have gotten to do otherwise.

As for companies, my favourite has always been Holland America and Princess. Princess being my choice.

  1. Planning always helps. But not too much. Understand what you're getting into, beyond that it is a good idea to give up what you can. Have as few bills as possible. That's always been my strategy. Otherwise go with the flow.

  2. I can't even begin to describe. All the stereotypical wild west crap is present in this industry. We end up in very sketchy places. I'm talking waking up in brothels with a nose bleed from all the coke, and playing the adult easter egg hunt. Frantically searching for your pants, keys, and wallet before sprinting back to the ship. If there is a vice, we've got it. And we've got it down to a science.

sufferingohioan66 karma

Thanks for doing this AMA! Now I know that this may not be answerable but is there any cruise line that someone should completely avoid? For really any myriad of reasons (can be the treatment of employees, or the food cleanliness, etc.).

oglach120 karma

I have a bit of a distaste for Celebrity and Carnival. Just for employee conditions, I've not heard any true horror stories from any line. Still, when it comes to food and cleanliness it's like a hotel. You get what you pay for. Holland America, Regent and those luxury liners are going to have the best quality. Princess is my personal choice, a good mix of down to earth environment and quality.

Mayo_On_My_Apple64 karma

When you confiscate people's alcohol/drugs brought onboard either at the start of the trip or from port--where does it go?

What's the craziest way you've seen someone try to sneak alcohol/drugs onto the ship or from room to room? Any deaths related to the attempts made?

oglach113 karma

I'm honestly not at all familiar with security. I know it's mostly just "disposed of". How exactly that happens is honestly out of my department.

I've never heard of a death due to attempted smuggling, but there's always crazy ways people are trying to smuggle booze and all that back on after porting. I've heard of people trying to bribe, putting booze in unsavory places, trying to force their way through. It's all very bizarre, because we really don't generally care that much.

A common argument is that people want to buy this exotic onshore booze and take it home, so they smuggle. Fully unaware that we'll check any amount of booze for you and give it back at the end of the cruise, and you're actually allowed to bring on a bottle of booze yourself.

beef-supreme63 karma

Is it true theres a bar/club for employees only deep within the bowels of the ship? What happens if you try to bring a non-employee to it?

oglach118 karma

Of course. The employee bar is the real world Mos Eisley. Drinks are dirt cheap, it's filthy and unsupervised. Guests can't go there, though. Probably a good thing.

LtBumRush58 karma

Greatest night of your life? Craziest thing you or someone you saw get away with?

oglach144 karma

The craziest thing I've ever gotten away with was going to a brothel with a guest while on the clock. To be fair, I didn't know what was going on. I may or may not have been the one to lead him there.

Mayafoe54 karma

the question on everyone's minds- sex onboard- between employees, between passengers and crew- and the hold, on the poop deck, in the engine room. orgies, everything.

oglach66 karma

If it happens, very quietly and probably in the darkest corner we can find.

ProfessorRansom41 karma

How did you get your job, what qualifications (if any) did you need, and would you recommend it to a random young person?

oglach57 karma

I got the job through a process. I had prior guest service experience and spoke a few languages, though that I got employment with shore operations. Worked my ass off abd made my name known to those on the ships, and when I applied I was already a front runner. It's all who you know, and who knows you.

ElegantGoats38 karma

What was the most frightening thing that you saw in the wilderness lodges? And the cutest animal that you encountered out there!

oglach257 karma

Cutest animal? Some little moose calves along the road near Denali. Most frightening thing? The Grizzly who came out of the woods and tore them to shreds 20 seconds later.

You're welcome.

sleazepizza25 karma

If the staff are all hooking up with each other and the passengers, do STDs become a problem? Do the medical facilities handle a lot of that?

oglach60 karma

Yeah..lot of shots in the ass going around.

The_Keywork11 karma

How does one get in this business? I don't live near the water, but have always thought it would be a very interesting way to live for a few years.

oglach16 karma

Just apply. This is a huge industry and not many people are willing to sign their life for 6 months. There's more opportunities than you think.

corporateavenger9 karma

What kind of drugs did you guys have on board? Interested in a "employment opportunity" you could say lol.

oglach27 karma

Cocaine and Molly were the most widely consumed. Pot wasn't really an option due to the smell. I tried Mushrooms on the deck one time and nearly had a mental breakdown. Stuck with Molly after that.

IUsedToLurkAMA8 karma

My family and I are avid cruisers, so thank you very much for what you have done. I've heard horror stories from some of the crew members I've talked to, and yet all of it goes unnoticed by the passengers.

In the previous thread you stated that cameras are EVERYWHERE. How extensive is the network of cameras really, and who has access to the (live and recorded) footage?

oglach13 karma

It's very extensive. I'm not exaggerating that at all, they're everywhere. As for access, only authorized security personell. Nobody else was even allowed near the security room. Even I would have been sacked had I gone in there.

AtheistComic2 karma

  • What can you say about the safety training that people receive who run cruise ships? Are they prepared?

oglach3 karma

Rigorously. We train constantly for emergency situations.

AutoModerator-48 karma

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oglach29 karma

I've submitted privately with the mods. Help me out, mods!