How to cope with working onboard cruiseships
Working onboard can be exciting and challenging. Although the work, as an entertainer is "right up your alley," living on a cruise ship for up to six months, can be daunting and at times stressful. Whilst there is free time, after rehearsals to visit on port days, you will be working every evening (performing 2 shows, depending on the amount of passengers onboard) until very late at night. And on "sea days" time the ship spends travelling to and from, the first port and back to home port, there is a lot of "downtime." While the prospect might be exciting, first and foremost, you will be living, eating, working and recreating on a ship. So there are restrictions and limitations, that are part of all crew members daily routine. Mind you, it is a different kind of lifestyle.
If you have never been on a ship, book a cruise (even a 2 or 3 days trip) to see if you even like being on a ship. Passengers are not allowed in crew member areas (which are below deck). However, some criselines offer, for a fee, a tour of the ship, that includes a visit to designated crew areas. This way you can see firsthand how crew members move about in the mosly windowless spaces, below deck.
Seasickness is a common ailment onboard. Especially whilst travelling through large bodies of water (trans-Atlantic and trans-Pacific). And although there´s medication/methods for it, it will need to be taken/used daily, until the sickness subsides. This is usually after the ship is no longer on "rough seas." And depending on your destination(s) you will be dealing with it for the duration of your contract.
A few things to keep in mind if you should decide that you like working onboard are:
*the length of your contract
*the capacity of the ship, passenger-wise (some ships have as few as 100 guests and others up to 6,000).
*the itinerary, remember your contract will be for six months, so make sure you are going to places that you like. Cause you will be visiting the same ports, week after week for 6 months.
*crew members, no matter what department they are in, are respondsible for the safety of guests and fellow crew members. So besides your entertainment job you will be required to attend a varied amount of safety, environemnt and procedure classes whilst onboard. Some of which you will be tested on, receive certification and have to repeat during your contract(s). A mandatory "boat drill" is participated by all crew members upon embarkation. And most entertainment personnel is used albeit, rotation rota. Having english as a first language, onboard ship make you more useful during a time of warning, emergency or heighten alert.
*you will be sharing a small cabin (dimensions 9´x12´x7´appox.)with another crew member, same sex, from your department. There is allowance for couples to share, most cruiseships, but the cabin arrangement is strictly handled onboard with crew administration. And there is a waiting list for this arrangement.
*there is a considerable amount of "downtime" for entertainment personnel, after rehearsals and especially during "sea days" and during the daytime on "port days." These periods will allow you time to rest and visit/sightsee. On port days, entertainment personnel (one or two crew members) are asked to help out the photo department by wearing costumes of various types (pirates, animals, etc). Which they are paid for (by the photo dept/ship administration) and will take pose with guests that request a photograph.
Ship-life can be very boring, especially the first time around. So make sure you connect with crew members that you get on with. And talk to them or your director if you are getting depressed. Many fellow crew members have gone through this phase and can help you cope. There is also fitness/spa, scheduled crew only activities that you can participate in on a regular basis, so take advantage of these. Alcohol ispfree flowing and inexpensive onboard. So if you are a tea toadler, beware. If not, there´s a crew only lounge and enjoy every bit. Their is internet and long distance communications via satellite, onboard. Although, it is not free of charge. Its better to wait until you are in port to connect with your family and friends. There will be crew member onboard that know where all the budget minded conveniences are.