Cruise ships are floating cities, even the smaller cruise ships have entire worlds hidden behind ‘Authorised Access Only’ doors that passengers will never see, while all cruise lines have policies and facilities that they’d rather passengers didn’t know about.
- You only see two thirds of the ship.
While passenger areas take up the vast majority of space aboard any cruise ship, many of the spaces that passengers have access to on a cruise ship — a cabin, dining room, bars, sun decks, gyms — have separate versions on a lower deck for the crew to use. These areas are off-limits to guests, but Cruise Arabia & Africa has been there…naturally.
- Modern cruise ships have a morgue
Once while cruising from Bazaruto Island back to Durban, our dining party was shocked to hear that one of the passengers had died during the cruise, and was being carried home in the ship’s morgue. Even the old MSC Symphony had one back then in the 90s. Most cruise ships have a designated morgue in case a passenger passes away during a voyage. They also have body bags and, if death occurs, they’re prepared to hold a body —or bodies —until the ship reaches a port where arrangements can be made to return the deceased home.
- Crew members work hard, sometimes everyday
Cruise ship crews are typically employed on three to six month contracts with leave in-between deployments. During their time at sea, many crew members work seven days a week and for more than 10 and sometimes 12 hours a day. Typically, crew members only apply for days off, and are only granted those days off, at a few ports of call on a cruise ship’s itinerary, if applied for well in advance.
- The crew know more about you than you realise
On luxury cruise lines, your cabin steward may know your name on sight, and your waiter may know how you take your steak without asking. Luxury cruise lines collect information about your likes and dislikes and store it in a central database ahead of, and during, the cruise. If you return on a later cruise, that information is shared with the crew along with your photo. If it’s your first cruise with the line, your steward is still given a picture of you and told to remember your name and what you look like ahead of your cruise.
- The crew party harder than the passengers.
The crew bars stay open later and serve more alcohol per person than those in the passenger areas, because the average age of the crew is often younger than that of the passengers and cruise crew typically party hard on their time off. While some types of crew members, officers and entertainers, are allowed to have a drink in passenger areas, most blow off steam in the crew areas. Cruise staff take the saying work hard, play hard, to another level.