This forum has helped me a lot to get the job, and it’s time for me to repay the favor and write about my own experience, in order to maybe help someone else.
I apologize in advance because I know I’m rambling a lot, but I want to write down all of the happenings, from application to the end of the contract, in one place, to help newcomers by putting everything in one place, so that they can decide whether it’s all worth it for them or not.
I worked onboard at the entry level position for the company Harding Brothers, as a shop assistant. But let’s start from the beginning.
I have been reading and contemplating about work on a cruise ships a lot, collecting all sorts of information, but this very forum was the one source that was most helpful of all.
A couple of times I sent Cv to various recruiting agencies but they all responded that they don’t recruit for shop department, or they have no interview soon, and were constantly trying to send me to work as a cleaner. Initially I thought, ok, so maybe that’s not bad, just to get hold of the ship and start to work, and after a while I’ll change position, but reading the forum I realized that it was not so easy, so I gave up.
After a long contemplation, I decided I’d attempt to get employed for either shop or casino department, because my primary reason for work on the cruise ship was not the money, but travel and learning of English language.
Let’s be clear, money is important and not squeamish on it, but in this case it was not primary but is somewhere at the 3 line of my priority list.
Because of my persistence, I spent almost a year at home preparing for the interview, but I’ve decided that I’m joining the ship on my terms, or not joining at all.
After a year of my hearing for the cruise ship job for the first time, I saw the ad of the RIV agency, stating that they organizing an interview for the shop department.
I sent them an email with Cv attached, and got the invitation for the preliminary interview in Belgrade on April 20 at the Hotel Rex at 9am.
In the meantime, I got a job in a bank and I was not sure if I’ll be able to get away for the interview, but as it happens when all the pieces somehow fall in place, I managed.
There were of course a lot of people attending, but an interview was quite short, ie. I waited a long time, but I could see that when a candidate entered the interview room, he was done in a minute or two.
They asked me basic questions; what I was doing and where, why I want to go to work on ships, what languages I speak, (since I claimed that I speak Spanish, basic level) and they said they would call me back. Time was passing bye and I was getting all nervous since they did not call me back. After some two weeks, I called RIV agency to ask what happened and they told me that, unfortunately, I failed the interview.
I was a little depressed, but nothing could be done about that interview anymore, so I said to myself: “It’s not my destiny, my time has not come, and now I’ll try other agencies and I will eventually get the job I want.
2-3 weeks had passed bye, and one morning, in the middle of my work day, my mobile rang. I answer the phone, hearing Jelena Joksimovic asking me “Am I still interested to go on a ship to work in the Harding Brothers shop and am I willing to join in as fast as in 2 weeks, because they are in urgent need of shop attendants. Of course I said yes, without thinking, and she immediately said that I’ll have a final interview in two days and because of urgency and the inability of recruiters to organize proper interview, it would be held via Skype.
Of course, I was thrilled, but immediately started to get nervous trying to plan how to prepare for an interview.
The problem was that I was at work both days before the planned skype interviews, from morning till 8pm and I had very little time to prepare for my interview that was scheduled the next day at 10 am.
I immediately received an email from Helena Vehovec asking me to get in touch with Jelena again so she could tell me what I need to rewrite in my CV and then send it back to them.
I’ve heard from Jelena and she told me that I have to write in my CV that I have worked with well-known brands, likes of Guess, Replay Energy, Miss Sixty etc..
That should be one of the very useful information for newcomers who are trying to get into the cruise ship shop, dropping the names of those known brands seemed to be very important to them.
They also told me to write that, in addition to these boutiques, I also worked in a stores selling beverages and cigarettes for 2-3 year. And I was naive beforehand thinking that I shouldn’t fake my CV, haha.
After modifying my CV to their liking, I spent two days I had available by reading the forum and searching anything on the internet related to the job, in order to better prepare for interview.
On the day of the interview I got up early and got ready to meet with them, regardless the conversation was planned over Skype (I put on pants, shirt, tie ..). As the time for the interview came closer, I was more nervous, but I decided to get through it and at exactly 10:00 I received the message on Skype from the recruiter who asked me if was ready for the call.
The conversation went through a lot better than I expected and literally did not last more than 6 min (I checked the watch).
Apart from my CV, they asked me the same questions that were already posted here at the forum.
I have written down all these questions, along with the answers to the same, just to be sure to glance if I get confused.
The interview went really well, and the girl who interviewed me was really relaxed so it stayed in my memory as pleasant experience, and I realized I was nervous for nothing, because it was a breeze (maybe I have just been lucky haha). At the end of the conversation I asked when we will I find out the results and she told me that we will know by the end of the day. I think it was the longest day of my life.
Following hours couldn’t have passed any slower, and in addition to that, the work was not very busy so the day really dragged on. Seeing that no one is calling me, at about 7.8 in the evening I decided to call Jelena to ask what was going on and when she answered, she congratulated me and said I got the job and that she was just sending me an email with the descriptions of the the next steps in joining process.
Of course when I finished talking, I wanted to jump for joy and then I started immediately to dwell on What am I going to do next, how am I going to get all things done, how to quit my job at the bank, etc.. A thousand thoughts was going through my head haha.
I immediately went to the computer to check my mail and see what awaits for me.
As I told them that I was asthmatic, in the email it said that first thing tomorrow I should see doctor and if I pass the medical exam to inform them immediately (although she immediately at the interview said that it should not be a problem). I was also told to plan to go for a weekend in Budapest for STCW training.
Of course tomorrow I immediately scheduled to see a doctor the next day. Medical exam was performed by a private clinic and it set me back 180 euros. HB recruiter also told me to get the lungs x-ray scan to a doctor to get their opinion.
I got my lungs x-rayed in private practice, somewhere near new Mercator in Belgrade, it cost me 2000 din.
They also told me not to eat anything after 6, in order to get the valid blood tests, and that I should be there at 9 in the morning. Due to the fact that a medical exam was being done at a private clinic, it seemed like a formality to me. I arrived there at 9am, filled out some forms, gave blood and urine for tests, they measured the blood pressure, performed an eye test and told me to come back later that afternoon at 15h when doctor will have all results from tests and perform a final examination. I haven’t stayed in there for longer than half an hour (of course, after that you can eat and smoke, drink coffee, .. whatever you wish).
At 15h I came back and the doctor told me that my results were fine, before performing EKG and spirometry tests. She wished me a good luck.
That, again, lasted under a half an hour.
In the meantime Jelena gets me the details of Budapest trainings, that I need to be there both days of the weekend and both days of training start at 8h in the morning, the first day finish at eight in the evening and the other at 5 pm. Of course, that meant that I have to be there on Friday, and book a hotel for 3 days.
The whole trip was supposed to cost me around 500 euros, of which the training was priced at 350 euros, I think. Jelena also gave me the numbers of the other four people who attended the interview, to plan the trip together. We booked the hotel and arranged transport, but night before the trip Jelena called us to tell us the good news, we didn’t have to go to Budapest. They would send us to the ships where we didn’t need training. (I saved 500 euros). I tell you, I had more luck than brains.
In the meantime, I also scheduled an interview for a seaman’s visa in US embassy, and paid the fee of some 190 bucks if I recall correctly, although don’t hold me to it.
Luckily, the embassy was busy and I was scheduled to wait for 15 days. My departure has been postponed, so I had more time for psychological and physical preparation for what awaits me there.