Company: Princess Cruises
Position: Accommodation Attendant (ACAT)
How did you hear about work on cruise ships?
One friend of mine is working on board a very long time. I have not really learned anything from him, since back then we were not socializing. Searching for information on jobs abroad, or outside the country, I came across some comments and blogs on the subject. Of course, more detailed searches of the Internet has led me to this forum.
What attracted you to apply for a job on cruise ships?
The general atmosphere around these topics. Everyone thinks that one that works on board is very rich. In contrast, at home I was working 34 days per month (without a day off, Sunday double shift) as a manager, illegally, unreported, for about $ 550.
I could not find a better job (or salary) at home, and since I have a family, I had to find a solution.
Who was your hiring agent or agency and how did you chose him?
I reported first to the Safe Cruise agency, but since it took them forever to reply, I checked in at the Kouzon Agency.
They answered on my email day after I sent it, they seemed professional, and 5 months later I was on board. Now I think that all thas was just a coincidence, because Kouzon called me just a bit later than Safe Cruise, probably cause we were getting close to the main interview date.
What company and the position have you applied for, and why?
I signed up for the Princess Cruises, it was their interview.
Safe Cruise and Kouzon were both massively supplied Princess with the entry level candidates such as (Assistant) Buffet Steward-and Utility Cleaner, and my position – Accommodation Attendant.
Based on interviews at the agency, I estimated that I would likely go fastest to the Housekeeping position. Low wages did not bother me then, because the agency created the impression that if we work hard and so on, we would quickly get promotion to a better paid job.
How long did the interview last and when did you find out that you’ve passed?
Interview lasted about 2-3 minutes and I learned right after that I passed.
In retrospect, it seemed most of our people were overqualified for this position, even those who had no work experience.
What were your expenses getting the job and going to the ship?
Altogether it cost me about 1,000 euros. This was 2014.
How did you plan on a trip into the unknown, what you have decided to carry with you?
I brought one bag and it was mostly laundry. Later,I bought little by little what I needed. It’s more or less repeated the following contracts too. So I came back with two bags.
Describe how you felt the first few days on board
It is hard to remember especially because it flew so fast. As you learn the job and where everything is on the board, you do not notice that the days are flying.
Basically, when you stay with yourself at night, you’re missing your family and friends. Younger people will certainly not have that problem.
How much has the company helped you to feel welcome at your workplace?
I do not know what to say. My job is very low in the hierarchy, so that I do not believe that the company has any interest to make me feel welcome.
Of course, a team from the crew office was nice, provided us with the instructions and information to better navigate the ship.
When you go through your first or second day, the treatment of “new guys” stops.
Upon arrival, has someone helped you and showed you the ropes of your new job?
Some of “our” people have helped me, but above all one Indian. “Our” people told me generally what and how things should be done, but there were some wrong advices and all.
Whatever you think of other nations, do not ever fall into the trap of generalizing things. There are good men everywhere.
How did you cope with the limitations of living space on board?
It was not such a problem during the first contract.
Later on, it began to bother me more, not only as to the living space but freedom in general.
Were you satisfied with your salary?
Maybe in the beginning, because from my salary at “home” $550, I came on the and was earning $900.
Then, when I saw what kind of people and workers earn much more than me, I realized I had chosen wrong department, and it was massive mistake. Especially because it is very difficult to get out of one department and go to the other.
Is there any possibility of promotion at work?
What none of the agencies say to people who go to the Accommodation department is that there is no promotion for first 6-7 contracts, not counting Utility Cleaners.
Utility gets a promotion after a 1-2 contracts on average, and ACAT after 6-7. However, I have met one of our own who got promotion at his 5th and another who won promotion on his third contract. So, there are exceptions, but let’s just say that this guy who got promotion at his third contract, it wasn’t easy to come.
How did you like social life on board?
Social life is okay when everything is taken into account.
You can learn a lot about people, you might gain some new real friends.
Most people keep at a half-distance as far as the depth of the relationship goes, but as I already said – there are good men everywhere.
Describe people with whom you have worked together on the board.
The vast majority of the Filipinos, and then we (East Europe), and Indians. They are mostly young people, average education, although I have met engineers and professors holding ridiculous positions.
I met some decent “Westerners” very normal people, out of all the stereotypes. The fact is that companies like Princess do not go for the quality but the quantity of the labor.
It’s scary sometimes to take orders from someone who is intellectually at a much lower level than you, but it is a question of your decision to stay in such a place.
How would you describe the travelers?
Americans are all what we see in movies and even a bit over that, they like to be entertained and like to chat.
British and Australians are similar but it seems to me a bit more normal.
Spaniards have disappointed me, I had a better opinion of them.
Asians like Asians. Japanese arrogant, Chinese simple.
I apologize for the generalization, it is not my style, but I am just trying to be descriptive. Overall, the “luxury cruise” has disappeared and mostly passengers are a Western working class, or more often retirees. Simple people enjoying their hedonistic vacation.
Have you had some time to visit the ship’s destinations?
Mostly yes. I had a phase when I did not go off the ship, and there were phases when I went out in every port. The point is, with a daily break of 3 hours you have to plan on going out the previous day. So if you stay in the Crew Bar until 3 in the morning, of course it will be very hard tomorrow to break a sleep and you will not want / be able to get out.
As for the ports, it seems that most of the ports are good if you spend some money and most are not good if you do not spend any money. There is also one version when you’re often in a port, but already know everything, where you’re going and what you do. All in all, this is one of the best things of working on a cruise ship, simply put, you can see the world.
The downside of my Department is that you can not get out on turnaround day so I never went out in Miami, Copenhagen, New York, although I was in those ports. The irony is to watch the statue of liberty from a distance less than 2 km, and not have the freedom to go out and visit the monument.
Did you have a favorite place to go?
St. Thomas, St. Martin, Cozumel, Oslo, Warnemunde in Germany, the Canary Islands and so on. There are many beautiful places in the world, and cruise companies, thank God, choose the best.
Describe the benefits of working on cruise ships.
Financial moment, traveling the world, getting to know yourself and others
Describe the disadvantages of work on cruise ships.
The lack of freedom, the exploitation of labor, material view of the world
Would you recommend working on cruise ships, and why?
I would definitely recommend to those interested, but not to others. You have to have a strong case. And a mental stability. Any remotely normal individual who has sometime in a life come into a situation to think about leaving their environment for economic reasons, should go, should try. One contract will not hurt anyone, then every man for himself can decide what to do next.
This job is not for people who are not sure or not ready for a lot of things.
On my last contract a guy came on board and after two days asked to go home for having problems with his girlfriend. That problem was taken care of, but he went home after the whole seven days onboard and that’s because he was allergic to dust. And he came to the position of Utility Cleaner?
What advice would you give to people who intend to apply for a job on cruise ships?
The best picture of life and work on board you’ll get from someone you know personally. This forum can also help. But the most important thing nobody told me, although I came across it somewhere on the forum – Always shoot for as high as possible position, believe in yourself. It is very difficult to transfer from one department to another, but I’m trying for 2 contracts now. Ask around, it is important to know a lot of things before you go to the hiring agency.
Would you like to add something that you consider important?
So far I have realized that the Princess is not the best company, but is decent solution for gaining some experience and the discipline is not too severe. Whoever can go to a better company, has EU passports, it is better to go to Royal Caribbean or Celebrity or something else.
Agency in Serbia, as probably elsewhere, help us, but only to help themselves. The cruise industry needs far more ordinary workers than officers. Think about it.
Last but not least, I want to thank the author of this forum and all members that are not lazy to help people and respond to the sometimes absurd questions.