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Cruise crew secrets: Staff reveal the truth about worker cabins on board

Cruise ship crew travel the work taking in a new country almost daily as part of their job. However, while life onboard a cruise ship might seem like a luxurious life, it seems the staff experience is quite different from that of the guests onboard.

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This is particularly true when it comes to the crew quarters.

While guests can expect luxury private staterooms with king-size beds, private bathrooms and even balconies, its a different life for the crew.

Cruise workers flocked to share their experience of life on board in a Reddit forum.

While the perks of working on a cruise means a break from paying rent or having to find somewhere to live, there are some sacrifices that must be made.

A ship’s entertainer shared an insight into their bedroom posting a photograph to Reddit.

In the image, a small single bed can be seen lining the wall, with a bedside table, extension cord and telephone to its right. There is also a narrow space for storage.

The Reddit user said: “This was a brand new ship, and I was an entertainer, so I got a fancy single room. Most were doubles. Lots of crew cabins on other ships do not look this fancy.”

It seems bedrooms on cruises are particularly tight, with space being a premium, even on some of the largest ships out there.

Occupants report features including a bed, desk, closest or storage space, shelves, and bathroom access.

“They’re definitely not spacious,” said one crew worker.

“But you get used to it, and it can actually be a little comforting, it’s actually one of my favourite places to read.”

Sometimes cabins are shared by up to four members of staff, using bunk beds to make the most of the space.

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In his book The Truth About Cruise Ships, former officer Jay Herring wrote: “Cabin size dwindled quickly down the ranks and most crew cabins were 1/2 to 1/3 the size of passenger cabins.

“The smallest crew cabins had so little space that roommates couldn’t pass each other at the same time. One person had to climb into bed so the other person could get by.”

Mr Herring went on to paint a picture of the cramped conditions he found himself in on his first trip.

“My new bathroom was smaller than I ever thought possible.

“I could sit on the pot, wash my hands in the sink and have my feet in the shower all at the same time.

“When on the toilet, I couldn’t lean forward to rest my arms on my thighs because the sink was in the way.

“I had to angle myself away from the sink and sit off-center to lean forward and get comfy.”

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Workers may also have to share a bathroom with another room or use a communal bathroom with others staying on the same floor as them.

However, a representative for the Cruise Lines International Association pointed out some of the additional perks crew can benefit from. Speaking to Business Insider they explained: “While space constraints are always something cruise lines have to keep in mind both from a crew and guest perspective, crew members almost always have access to other sections of the ship that are just for them, such as gyms, pools, dining areas, and lounges.”

Plus, there seems to be one sure way that crew can upgrade their living quarters, and even get their own private bedroom.

For the most part, it seems length of service, experience, and ranking is the key to a better room.

One cruise worker posting to Reddit recalls: “On my ship, you had to be an officer, a department manager or an entertainer such as a soloist, showband singer, or cast performer.

“I worked in entertainment as well as a technician and I shared a room with a host but he was dating a singer so they were always in her cabin and I was pretty much alone which made bringing dates home very easy.”

Another adds: “It varies from country to country, but the process is either sailing for years as an unlicensed crew member and earning enough time to gain the knowledge needed and the minimum sea time required to sit for your license test, or you graduate from a maritime academy with a license.

“By sail for years, I mean it has to be in the same department.

“You would have to sail as an unlicensed member of the deck or engine department.

“You can’t sail as an entertainer and work your way up to being an engineering officer.”

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