There are many benefits to working onboard a ship. They include visiting numerous ports of call and learning about the history and customs of our worlds many different cultures. As a crew member, you will sample different foods, experience a simpler way of life and meet a myriad of interesting people. You will achieve independence and gain an adventurous spirit because your eyes will be opened to so many new opportunities and possibilities. Your fellow crew members will become like family to you and youll gain friendships with people from all corners of the world. Even though the pay will vary for each position, you will always have free room, food and medical coverage so it is very possible to save money. If your schedule allows, youll be able to take free or reduced-rate shore excursions while in port. If your family enjoys cruising, they might even be able to take a discounted cruise within the same line.
However, there is a possibility that at some point during your time aboard you may feel like jumping ship. This is a term used by sailors to describe a deliberate move to break your employment contract. By requesting to leave before your contract is completed or by purposely remaining ashore while the ship sails is asking to forever end your employment with that cruise line. If you ever decide to quit, please realize that this decision could very well mean a permanent end to your cruising life. For that reason, it is important to realize that while ship life can be fun, it certainly isnt glamorous and should never be taken lightly. Strict maritime laws make for a military-type atmosphere that must be respected at all times. On the ship there is no such thing as a forty-hour work week. You will work seven days a week for months at a time. This is not a job for those that are prone to seasickness because youll see many types of weather conditions and it will not be possible to call in sick. If youre claustrophobic you may want to know that your cabin will likely be small and without a porthole. If youre someone who needs a lot of privacy you should realize that youll likely share a cabin, bathroom and sometimes even a dresser or closet with one or more cabin-mates.
Even with the lack of privacy, chance of seasickness and strict ship rules, life at sea can be a lot of fun. However, you must keep in mind that not everyone is working onboard for the same reasons. You might be there for the excitement and adventure while your co-worker is there to support a family back home that he or she hasnt seen for 8 months. Big difference, isnt it?
You may have heard stories of poor working and living conditions for some shipboard crew, but unfortunately, the fact remains that Canadians working onboard are given higher paying jobs, shorter contracts and better accommodations than crew from non-industrialized countries. I certainly dont want to thwart your anticipation of working onboard, but I believe it is important to know the real story. There is a form of racism that is seemingly acceptable onboard a ship. Why is it that while Canadians, Europeans and Americans have preferable accommodations, wages and working conditions, crew from non-industrialized countries are treated otherwise.
The International Trade Workers Federation is a seafarers guardian angel. They are an organization committed to changing these injustices and are commended for it. They believe in a cruise industry regulated by negotiated trade union agreements based on a respect for human rights and a fair wage.
You may wonder why the citizens of these non-industrialized countries work under such poor conditions. Most of them save every penny to send home, enabling their families to live fairly well by local standards. Others save their money in the hopes of starting a business one day. I think that these crew members are to be admired for their determination and perseverance.
In conclusion, I hope that you werent discouraged by the realities of cruise ship living. I believe that while unjust circumstances remain for some, the chance to see the world while living among so many nationalities is a rare opportunity and I urge you to apply because you have the chance to embark on an amazing learning experience and an exhilarating adventure!