Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Jobs on the Ship - What is the Staff like? (Photog, Salon, Musos, Dancers)

Here we are again, my loyal fan club of 2 viewers so far.  I noticed a lot of pings from Croatia. I LOVE it there!  We went to Dubrovnik and Split.  Really amazing places.  Oh, and when I say alot of pings, I mean two.  I've never blogged before so I don't know what is good and what is bad for pings or readers, but I think common sense would dictate that 2 people out of 6 billion is less than I imagined.  I guess there is alot of info out there.  Also, I tried googling my own blog and couldn't find it.  Hey, if you are a blogger and you enjoy reading this, why don't you link to it so more people can find me?

Anyway the staff are the face of the ship.  Well, not entirely true.  The waiters and housekeepers probably have more face time and they are crew.  You know it is a funny thing.  What exactly determines staff from crew on a ship?  Officers have to go to nautical school and they are highly skilled.  Both staff and crew interact with passengers but staff have higher priveleges than crew.  I guess staff have more education? Well, that's not entirely true.  I've known sommeliers who've had a much better education than some dancers or salon workers.  It is weird, but in general, 90% of the staff are white (with of course many different ethnicities from developed countries) whereas 90% of crew are Asian or Eastern European.  Let's call them "ex-Communists" - Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, etc... Most of these people insist they are European like they were born on the Champs Elysees or something!  Anyway, the asians are all from Indonesia (Holland America) or Phillipines (Princess) or India (most lines).  The funny thing on Carnival was that there was a great amount of sophisticated Indian low-stripe officers.  They were always the nicest people on Carnival.  Other lines I've found alot of Indian dishwashers and the lowest paid jobs.

So 90% of the staff lets say are from developed countries.  Those countries would be USA, Canada, real Europe and the UK, and now South Africa (from rich families only).  If you are from a poor family in South Africa you work in the dining room.  I'm not trying to burst anyone's bubble or anything, but I've never been proven wrong in 10 years.  Don't worry, once you get on the ship the chances for advancement are great.

Staff members have higher paying jobs than most crewmembers.  There are exceptions.  Some housekeeprs or cabin stewards work on $50 a month salary, yet they can earn big money on tips.  Of course when the ship goes to the UK everybody is in tears because Brits suck at tipping.  They will spend $100 at lunch on beers but can't tip the guy that cleans up their vomited-on bathroom three nights in a row! Your typical staff member is probably making $1000 - $3000 a month.  Specialists like singers could make more. 

Photographers have a tough life on the ship, I think.  They have to herd all of these cows (passengers or 'pax' as they are called.) Nobobdy wants their picture taken because everyone wants to relax and be on vacation.  The photographers job is to force people to smile and pose and then when they are coming out of dinner (with a few drinks in them ) the photos are on display and you can buy them.  Or buy two and get a free chotsky.  They typically buy their own equipment and work hard hours.  They are on the gangway at port, then might take a tour, then they do formal night set ups, shoot all night, then they are selling photos and printing photos and somehow they are always in the crew bar drinking, too.  The funny thing is they work really hard but they have a lot of fun.  I personally couldn't do the job but I think many of them appreciate the travel opportunities and some are really passionate about photography.  Those ones don't last long since you are mostly making snapshots of fat people.

When I started ships I was a single guy with no worries.  I wanted to write much more about different staff jobs, but I think that is going to have to wait. You see, I am in the 1 in a billion category of crewmembers who met someone on the ship, got together, and we actually stayed together.  I started ships when I was 21.  Now I am 33 and my son, who is 27months just woke us up with a cough.  It's 11pm and the day starts early.  Stay tuned about more stories from the ships and if you know a crew member, why not email them a link?  Crew members will tell you all the stories I'm telling you are true!