In 2016 I was hired to work on cruise ships. Very few Americans work on cruise ships except for in the entertainment department. I worked for Park West Gallery which sells fine art onboard.

I have done contracts in the Baltic, Mediterranean, Southeast Asia, Australia and South Pacific, Hawaii, and Caribbean.

I have worked on Celebrity, Carnival (twice), Princess, and Royal Caribbean.

My contracts were anywhere from 4-8 months long and I would share a room with another person in my department.

When I am at home I live with my Parents in Colorado.


Comments: 185 • Responses: 56  • Date: 

Earthicus45 karma

How is a cruise ship policed? Is there a security team? Is there a jail?

Cmn172350 karma

There is a security team and there is a jail. The security team mostly patrols the corridors, screens people going on and off the ships, and responds to any emergency. In instances where passengers have been arrested they will be held in the jail or in their own cabins with a guard on their door until the next port where they will be handed over to the local authorities.

Nuclayer6 karma

What if it's in another country?

Cmn172338 karma

I would imagine you would be detained in another country then. I was onboard the Carnival Legend when a fight broke out and about 20 people were arrested. The Australian police had to board the boat, process everyone involved and take them all back on land. It’s unlikely that everyone involved were all from Australia.

marinaes24 karma

Im currently trying to get a cruise ship job. Do you have any advice on how to improve my chances of getting hired?

Cmn172322 karma

It really depends on what department you want to be hired for. I just applied online but other jobs might require going to a recruitment center.

primefun23 karma

Did you stay in any of these countries long enough to experience them more than just a couple of hours? Favourite port?

Cmn172342 karma

We sometimes had overnights in certain ports. Those were always the most fun. Also, the passengers only visit a port once but the crew visits the same ports over and over again for months until the cruise reroutes. So, if you don’t get the chance to do something this week you’ll be back the next. I mentioned St. Petersburg, Russia as one of my favorites but I also really enjoyed Reykjavik in Iceland, Dublin in Ireland, and Singapore.

aerostotle9 karma

Why was Russia fun? I heard it was bleak

Cmn172333 karma

We just had so much time available to us that we could do more in Russia than any other port. Some ports we might visit for 4 hours every two weeks but we spent 36 hours in Russia every two weeks.

I thought the architecture was really cool. A lot of the buildings are really colorful and intricate. That was one of the few ports where very little English was spoken but there are ways of communicating to anyone.

jimmycarr116 karma

What exactly did your job entail? Were you just responsible for sales or was there anything else? Did you enjoy it, and why did you end up leaving? What do you do now?

Cmn172325 karma

My main job was selling artwork but it was a lot of moving art from one location to another. We would have upwards of 1,000 works onboard one ship. We would usually have two or three lockers that we would keep art in and have to move art from the lockers to the gallery or to the lounge where we would have an auction.

I was also responsible for presenting seminars on various art movement or artists. I managed the gallery onboard and trained any new employees. I was also responsible for any paperwork, distribution and creation of marketing material, and ensuring we were encouraging passengers to come to the auctions on sea days.

Working on cruise ships is not really a permanent job and you operate on maritime law. On sea days it was typical that I worked for 14 hours with short breaks for food. I am now in training to be a legal secretary.

TheFuturist474 karma

Is that a normal cruise ship job or were these specialty trips? I don't think I've ever heard of that gig before.

Cmn17235 karma

Park West operates on over 100 ships. They are on all major cruise lines like Celebrity, Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Princess, NCL, and Holland America. Others are mentioned in my proof.

purpleglitteralpaca15 karma

What is your best tip to tell people new to cruising? We don’t think we are cruise people, but it’s on the bucket list.

Cmn172329 karma

I would say don’t feel like you have to be doing something all the time. There are hundreds of activities a day on a ship and hundreds of things to do in any given port. It can be overwhelming if you try to experience everything.

minnick2717 karma

Not OP but the advice I give everyone isntake Imodium. If you ask the ship for it they will quarantine you for 24 hours. Lost the last day of my honeymoon

Cmn172318 karma

I’m sorry you lost a day on your honeymoon. It is policy to quarantine any person with diarrhea or vomiting in order to prevent an outbreak. Crew members were required to report these symptoms to the medical staff.

DiscordantApple15 karma

Why do so few Americans work in the cruise industry? I've only been on 1 cruise, and I did notice that, but at the time, I thought it was because ships are registered internationally... is it for that reason? Or something else?

Cmn172336 karma

This is just speculation, but I think it’s that the working conditions are not as good as what you can get in America. I made fairly good money because I was in a position with commission and we generally didn’t work when we were docked. A lot of positions are 14 hour days 7 days a week for 8 months with no days off and low pay.

Batchagaloop4 karma

What was the pay like? Do you get commission or is it straight salary?

Cmn17238 karma

I got paid a base salary even I we didn’t sell a single thing. The base increased as well as earned commission the more our entire team sold. So, even though I had nothing to do with selling a certain artwork I would still get commission for it.

KudiTongTong12 karma

What’s the social life on a boat? Is it easy to hook up with other staff?

Cmn172324 karma

The social life is a bit like college. When all the shops and bars close the crew will have drinks in the crew only bar after work. Some ships have smoking bars and drinks are generally about $1 per drink.

It is incredibly easy to hook up with other staff. The hardest part is coordinating with your roommate.

imkharn1 karma

I notice it is pretty easy to simply walk into crew only areas. Would is also be possible to just pretend to be crew and get $1 drinks if you know where to go?

Cmn17231 karma

It would probably be pretty easy to walk into a crew area. Passengers did it all the time by accident. You can’t get a drink from the crew bar without a crew ID though. The crew have IDs that let them on and off the ship and they also work as their onboard credit card. You might be able to get a crew member to buy you a drink at the crew bar but you can’t buy one yourself without a crew ID or “A-pass.”

chrisj33311 karma

What do you do when the ship docks? And which stop has been your favorite and why?

Cmn172327 karma

I would usually do touristy things if I had never been there before otherwise I would try to get food and find WiFi to call home. I would sometimes sign up to be an escort on cruise excursions. My job was to do head counts and make sure everyone was back onboard. I mostly just got to enjoy the excursions though.

I spent a lot of time in St. Petersburg, Russia because we would have two overnights every two weeks and I saw so many incredible things. The Hermitage Museum, Swan Lake, the Yuspov Palace where Rasputin was killed, and I took an excursion along the canals.

erystl11 karma

My last cruise involved a man overboard the first night out to sea. Unfortunately, he was not rescued or recovered. How often does this happen?

Cmn172311 karma

I am so sorry you had to experience this. In my time working on ships I never worked on one where anyone fell overboard. The entire crew is trained to handle a situation like this and there are so many safeguards in place to prevent someone falling overboard.

Ayatollah_Bahloni11 karma

That sounds like an amazing experience overall. Just curious, have you ever been hit with Norovirus on one of your cruises?

Cmn172321 karma

I was lucky enough never to have caught it but I have heard horror stories. Cruise ships are basically floating petri dishes. However, they have bathrooms and hand sanitizer everywhere. So, as long as you consistently wash your hands you should have no problem.

Kaarous10 karma

What's the worst instance of debauchery you've encountered while working on a cruise ship?

Cmn172331 karma

There is this saying that you gain a lot of weight on ships and I totally believe it because food is usually available 24/7 just steps from your door. I don’t have a single instance that jumps out at me but a lot of people overindulge on cruise ships. You’d hear stories of passengers having sex on the pool deck or that one drunk guy who always throws up in the hall.

The crew was probably the worst of it though. Many officers on ships would bring their girlfriend on one week and their wife and kids on the next.

bogal29858 karma

Are the crew as horny as a friend of mine says they are?

For reference my friend is also an ex shop worker.

Cmn172312 karma

Yes. The sex among crew is rampant. A lot of married couples work on ships together, too.

rockhardpony8 karma

How do they get away with paying such little wage? How much does a steward get paid?

Cmn17239 karma

I’m not really sure how much a steward gets paid but they can get away with it because cruise ships operate under maritime law.

Tindola8 karma

Did you have any other responsibilities while on the ship other than the gallery?

Cmn17238 karma

Every crew member is assigned an emergency station as well. In case of an emergency an alarm goes off and all the passengers have to go to a designated area. I was either stationed on stairwells to help direct passengers to their muster station or placed at a muster station. I would demonstrate how to put on a life jacket and instruct passengers how to get to the lifeboats from our current location.

Every two weeks crew would have mandatory drills where we were to simulate an emergency and respond accordingly.

willseeya8 karma

I'm going on a cruise this coming April and was curious, How much does the art typically sell for? I'm not looking to spend a lot but getting a piece on board would be be interesting. Where does it come from?

Cmn172312 karma

Park West represents over 250 artists and you can collect art with a frame anywhere from USD $250 - $150,000. There is also unframed art for as low as $70.

ArchonUniverse7 karma

What are some interesting and memorable experiences you have encountered on your voyages?

Cmn172319 karma

I have a few. One memory I think will always stick with me was just chatting in a pub with a 90 year old Irish man in Cork, Ireland. He had been through so much and was enjoying the good retired life.

It was also really interesting to hear words and phrases I never thought I would because I visited so many places and worked with people from so many different cultures. In America we call an old person a geezer but this is how everyone else pronounces “geyser,” like in a hot spring. Cracks me up.

dapostrophus7 karma

How many voyages would you say you were along for? Also, what's the worst weather you experienced at sea, and what was that like?

Cmn172311 karma

Well, I was on a ship for nearly 21 months since 2016. Some cruises were two weeks long and some were three days long. I would say a few hundred voyages?

Our ship had to divert due to hurricane Harvey but we caught some of the winds that went along with it. You could see the waves getting up onto the pool deck 14 stories up.

dapostrophus4 karma

I've seen a few clips online of ships with furniture sliding around, and it looked pretty dangerous. I realize that's the extreme, but have you experienced anything like that?

Cmn17238 karma

Yes. It’s not uncommon for chairs to fall over or plates to slide off tables in rough waters. We often displayed our artwork on easels and you had to be sure they were secure or the artwork could be damaged. Most cabinets and shelves on ships would automatically lock or have a magnet so that the door would not open by itself.

dapostrophus4 karma

I've been on a few cruises, and there was only slightly rough seas for part of one cruise. The worst part was trying to keep your balance at the urinal. :)

On the others, you had to try really hard to even be able to detect that the ship was moving at all.

Is there a time of year when you're most likely to run into bad weather? Or more likely you avoid it?

Cmn17233 karma

It really depends on what part of the world you are in. Hurricane season in the United States is from June to November but in Australia, it is from November to April. I wouldn't say you have to avoid cruises during these months because the ship may divert to another port or you may stay another night at the same port.

creamynyc6 karma

You said sex happens often, do crew members ever sleep with cruise-goers?

Cmn17238 karma

Nope. This is a fireable offense. You do not want to be stranded halfway across the world with no job so sleeping with passengers doesn’t really happen.

16326 karma

  • What is the biggest taboo nobody talks about on a cruise ship?

  • What is the most extraordinary thing that happened to you or somebody you know on a cruise ship?

  • What are the three best recommendations you can give about "playing the system"?

Cmn17238 karma

  • Probably how much adultery there is. It wasn’t uncommon for people to shrug off two people sleeping together where one or both parties were married to other people.
  • I saw some big gambling winners on those ships. I think one time a passenger won around $20,000 at poker.
  • Honestly, I wouldn’t really have the best advice on how to play the system. You should always be nice to the security staff and they might overlook something you’re not supposed to bring back onboard with you like fruit. Cruise ships are so heavily regulated that it’s really difficult to skirt the rules.

lespaulstrat26 karma

Last cruise I was on was a few months ago, we stopped in 4 ports. Coming out of Charleston we were escorted out with two Coastguard boats with a someone manning the front gun. Why only Charleston and not the other ports?

Cmn17233 karma

I think you might be referring to tender boats? Some ports do not have permanent docks and the ship will drop their anchor near the shore. There are smaller boats attached to the ship that can take passengers from the ship to shore.

lespaulstrat24 karma

No, I am referring to Coastguard boats with a gun mounted on the bow. We were in port, not anchored offshore. They escorted us for about 20 minutes to a half hour when we left.

Cmn17233 karma

I’m not really familiar with a situation like that. It could be that the coast guard was inspecting the ship. If a passenger falls overboard in American waters the coast guard will come to help. There could be a few reasons why that happened.

lespaulstrat25 karma

My guess, at the time, was the security level at that port was high for some reason. I was just wondering if that was true.

Cmn17232 karma

It could be.

exwasstalking6 karma

What happens to all of the trash?

Cmn172311 karma

Some of it is incinerated but most is recycled or disposed of in the next port.

regulate2135 karma

I think this is the longest I've ever heard a Park West gallery person talk without mentioning Peter Max...

Is there a difference in the art you stock for say Carnival versus Celebrity? Less expensive choices or do you have a standard mix you bring?

Cmn17235 karma

Peter Max is definitely one of the biggest names Park West represents so it’s hard not to sell his work.

On a carnival ship in the United States you might have a wider selection of animation and portraits. On a Celebrity ship going out of England you might have more landscapes and master artists such as Rembrandt and Chagall. That is really up to the auctioneer though. They can choose to rotate their stock or keep trying to sell whatever is onboard. Some of the top selling artists will always be represented. Tarkay, Britto, Kinkade, Max, Agam, and Goddard are pretty standard bets.

Profane_tendencies5 karma

How often did you get sick like the flu?

Cmn17236 karma

I actually only got really sick once with the flu. I was quarantined to my room for 48 hours.

marrilyn-marrilyn5 karma

I’ve been to art auctions on cruises. The Park West staff has always seemed so stressed! Is it a difficult job? Is there a lot of pressure to sell the artwork? Do you have quotas?

Cmn17234 karma

It really depends on the auctioneer. I’ve had Auctioneers who made the job fun and don’t overwork their employees. I’ve also had auctioneers who demand 14 hour work days with few breaks every single day.

We didn’t really have quotas but the more you sell the more money you made. We had a lot of training in order to be the most knowledgable people about our artists and artworks there are. You can ask any Park West employee what an artwork is, who the artist is, and the technique the artist used in order to create that particular work.

fear1e5 karma

Out of all the countries you've visited - which felt the most like 'home'? Is there more than one? And what made it/them feel so familiar?

Cmn17233 karma

I would say Stockholm, Sweden fits that bill for me. It was a big city but not enormous. The people generally spoke English very well and they were all friendly but not overbearing.

_welcome3 karma

How is the environmental impact of a cruise ship? I heard past a certain mile distance from the shore, cruise ships basically dump everything in the ocean.

Cmn17236 karma

I have heard of this also but it is entirely illegal. Ships are more often inspected now and it would be much more difficult to get away with. All water is filtered to the point of, I believe, 1 in every 100 million particles which is better than tap water, before it can be put back in the ocean. There are very strict laws and regulations in place to prevent ocean contamination. Princess cruises paid a very heavy fine for breaking these laws in 2013.

AmorDeCosmos973 karma

Hi OP! Ex-shippie here. I did it for over three years. Great answers, you have brought back so many good (and bad) memories of working on ships.

Your position in the Park West Gallery was a special way to live a life at sea. I worked in video production and was a part of the hotel department- also a very privileged way to live on a cruise ship.

I’ve got two questions for you - what was the biggest ship you worked on, and what port visit did you see the biggest group of ships and passengers?

Cmn17235 karma

Hello fellow shippie! I believe the biggest ship I worked on was the Celebrity Eclipse. It had about 3,000 passengers and over 1,000 crew onboard.

Nassau in the Bahamas was always busy. Usually 3-4 ships at once. Sometimes Sydney harbor would have quite a few ships docket at once as well.

Lastbutone3 karma

What other offshore jobs are possible with your qualifications?

Cmn17233 karma

I was a department manager onboard. It qualified me for office jobs. I also finished my online degree while I was working on ships. I am now in training to be a legal secretary.

SplendidTit3 karma

How much do you generally make a month doing this type of work?

It seems interesting, but I've heard the pay is very low!

Cmn17237 karma

I didn’t really make a lot of money my first few contracts but I started making pretty good commission when I was promoted to manager. I started out making a little over USD $1,000 a month and my highest paycheck was near $5,000 for the month. The vast majority of cruise ship workers are underpaid and overworked though.

MattyKatty1 karma


Cmn17231 karma

Yeah, I wasn’t working under US labor laws. It was maritime law so it didn’t matter.

CleverNameIsClever3 karma

Do you have any advice for saving money on excursions or other ship activities? Any discounts or cool stuff the average person wouldn't know about?

Cmn17237 karma

There are third parties you can book shore excursions with. I’ve heard good things about ShoreFox but if you have to get back before the ship leaves or they will leave without you. If you book with the onboard shore excursions and that trip is late they will wait for the group.

A lot of people get drink packages where you can have unlimited drinks for the entire cruise. A lot of these require you to drink at least 4-5 drink per day to make it worth it. Then you feel like you have to be drunk all the time to get your money’s worth. It’s better, in my opinion, just to get drinks individually if you are not a heavy drinker.

You can always get a glass of free champagne at the art auctions! The shopping onboard ships is usually less expensive than you would pay on land because it’s duty free.

shoveupurownassgames3 karma

drink packages

how do staff police this when the passenger is giving these out to other passengers (their friends/family/etc.)?

Cmn17236 karma

You’re not allowed to order more than one drink at a time. Some people get around this by getting a drink at one bar and walking across the room to another bar to get a drink for their friend. You can have your drink package revoked with no compensation for doing this though.

squidballz2 karma

What should I bring in a cruise?

Cmn17234 karma

That really depends on where you're going but all cruise ships have a swimming pool. Even when it's snowing the pool might still be open. You generally always need your passport on cruise ships. Also, sunscreen, sunglasses, and a portable external battery to charge things while you're out never hurts.

HenryRHolly2 karma

Ever get sea sick?

Cmn17236 karma

I never felt sea sick. I had cruised as a passenger on a dozen or so cruises before working on them and I knew I didn’t get sea sick. I don’t really know of any crew that did get sea sick.

weedpindle2 karma

So, how many Peter Max 'Umbrella Man' are there?

Cmn17233 karma

I’m not entirely sure. There is one series of serigraphs, one series of hand embellished serigraphs, and quite a few originals done in that style. Many artists only really have one style though. Peter Max also has done angel with heart, the Statue of Liberty, his heart series, blushing beauty, and many others. His artwork is iconic and holds a certain level of prestige.

ZZVN2 karma

I'm taking my first (gay) cruise on Celebrity this March! Any tips for the first-time traveler?

Cmn17235 karma

Celebrity is wonderful. They will have lots of meet and greets with discount alcohol. Going to the “silent disco” parties is always fun. You will receive a room key when you check in which is your way on and off the ship, your bar tab, and your identification for your emergency station. Be sure to check out the sky lounge and the grass deck if your ship has one. They have incredible views.

I would say go online and look at deck plans of your ship before boarding. It is easy to get lost on a cruise ship. Everyone else is also getting lost though so don’t worry and ask someone for help if you can’t find your way.

Phombus2 karma

How realistic are the art valuations for a hand embellished art print? It seems like the prints are very nice reproductions but does the artists signature really add that much to the art’s worth?

Cmn17234 karma

Park West uses many reliable ways to price their artwork including:

  1. comparison shoppers
  2. price lists of other dealers
  3. actual transactions or sales made
  4. outside independent appraisers just as an additional means to check on our own appraisals.

When an artist signs a work it gives it more value because it can mean that the artist actually handled the work you are collecting. Many limited editions are never seen by an artist. Also, a signature is an emblem ensuring the authenticity of a work. One artist, Thomas Kinkade, used a DNA matrix in his signature so that his works could be authenticated.

unitool2 karma

How fat was the fattest person that you ever saw on a cruise?

Cmn17234 karma

Very fat.

fwambo422 karma

I'm late to this, but any feel on how often kids get sea sick? Thinking of taking our eight year old on a quick cruise, but I'm concerned about having to deal with that.

Cmn17233 karma

I went on my first cruise as a passenger when I was probably 6 or 7. There isn’t really any way to know if your kid will get seasick until you try it but if they don’t get carsick you’re probably fine. Cruising with kids is great because they have their own clubs and hangout spots separate from the parents.

pat07042 karma

Do the entertainers make good money?

Cmn17233 karma

Some of them do. I believe the guest entertainers and piano bar musicians made good money. I think the house bands and dancers make pretty average money.

sarahjeni2 karma

What is the most common food to cause a food poisoning outbreak?

Cmn17237 karma

I’m not really sure there is a most common. Anything can cause food poisoning if it’s old or not cooked properly.

phrazel1 karma

Did you ever see anyone get caught trying to smuggle drugs? Would it be possible for a passenger to purchase say, a bag of weed, in a country and bring it on the ship and take it home? How about a crew member?

Cmn17231 karma

Some of the crew members would smuggle on hash they bought in Amsterdam or Copenhagen. I’m not really sure anyone got caught. I would imagine they were pretty sneaky about it.

njleach1 karma

Best and worst parts of the job?

Cmn17231 karma

I would say the best part was waking up in a new country every day. I got to see places I had never even heard of before.

The worst was the physical labor, I suppose. I lost a lot of weight at that job. It still wasn’t that bad though.

grier_maze1 karma

Is it safe to work in a cruise ship?

Cmn17231 karma

Yes. Every employee is required to attend safety trainings for up to a month into their contract. Every employee is trained in crowd control, fire fighting, CPR, and emergency events.

Mantisbog-2 karma

Doesn't it kind of suck pulling into port of a beautiful Mediterranean city, like Santorini, and being like LMAO, you're stuck on the ship until we choose to disembark, then ROFL, have fun with your five hours while worrying constantly about getting back to the ship?

Cmn17233 karma

You get used to the schedule. It does suck when you have one day going to a really cool port and you’re stuck at work but that is part of the job. All the crew members are really time conscious so you rarely have to really worry about getting back to the ship on time. Crew members usually have to be back onboard one hour before the passengers.

i_suckatjavascript-4 karma

Hi Courtney. You have a beautiful name. What’s the age minimum/limit to be a cruise ship worker? How old are you when you got the job?

Cmn17232 karma

Most jobs require the crew member to be at least 21 but for some jobs the requirement is 18. However, the legal drinking age is always 21 for crew members no matter where you are in the world. I was 21 when I started working on ships.