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What will be my expenses while working onboard a cruise ship?

One of the most questions regarding working onboard a cruise ship is: "How much money will I make / can I save?" The most common answer to this is: “It depends on your position and on the cruise line.”

With the position come the privileges you are able to enjoy. The higher your rank onboard the ship, the more privileges – and of course the more responsibility you will have.

However, while your actual salary depends on your position, there are certain things onboard for which you do not need to pay, others for which you will need to pay and those, where it is up to you, if you want to utilize the services offered.

Here you will find a list of locations/areas typically available for personnel onboard a cruise ship, a quick description to each, and which facilities are available for free.

What will be my expenses while working onboard a cruise ship?

Cabin:

You will be assigned a cabin by the ship, you will be provided with towels, bed linen, cleaning material. Some cruise ships supply soap to their employees. Once again, depending on your position you will share your cabin with 1-3 other co-workers or have a single cabin.

When you are sharing your cabin, you and your colleagues are responsible for the up-keeping of the cabin, cleaning, changing of linen. Ship’s management will do weekly cabin inspections to ensure, that this is done.

When something technical is not functioning in your cabin, it is your responsibility to report this. Your colleagues or supervisor will be able to tell you the procedure of reporting.

Food:

You will be (according to your position) assigned a mess-room, where you will be allowed to eat. On most ships there is an Officer’s mess (for Officers), a Staff Mess (for Staff members) and a Crew mess (for crew members). While a higher ranked employee can eat in a lower mess-room, this does not apply the other way around.

On several ships there are also mess-rooms, which serve only a certain kind of food (Food from the Philippines, West Indies, etc).

Besides an extensive choice for Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner, also morning coffee (10:00 am), afternoon tea, and late/midnight snacks are available on most cruise ships.

There is no room-service onboard the ships for crew members and no food is allowed to be brought from the Mess to the Cabin.

Many cruise lines offer a choice of juices during Meal hours, or soft drinks can be purchased. During off-meal hours, tea, coffee and water are normally available in the Mess rooms.

Once again, this is/can be different for different cruise lines.

However, room and board are free of charge for you, while you are under contract by the cruise line.

Laundry:

Laundry services for Uniforms are free of charge. For personal belongings (this includes underwear and socks) the ships laundry will be available to crew, at a reduced rate. In addition, washing machines and dryers, as well as the availability of washing powder and ironing boards are available for a fee.

Internet:

On most ships a crew internet café is available to the crew, as well as wireless access for those with their own laptops. Internet access is available at a reduced rate for crew versus guests. Access can be obtained with the purchase of an internet card in the crew area. These crew internet cards will not work in guest areas and vice versa.

Phone:

Many cruise lines sell telephone cards, which can be purchased onboard. They can be used with the crew public telephones and with the phones in crew cabins. You will get an access code and a password on the card.

Many cruise lines also offer now pre-paid sim cards for purchase to use in mobile phones.

Calling from the ship can be expensive and your fellow colleagues will know the best deals.

Crew shop:

Most ships have a crew shop or also called slop chest available for the crew. There you can buy such things as Toiletries.

Crew Library:

Many ships have a library for the crew onboard, where they rent out books and DVD’s.

The ones I know, do not charge for renting, one just has to provide their crew card for record keeping and then return them after a certain time.

Gift Shop:

The regular Gift shop for the guests is available to some positions of the Officers/Staff members. Goods from the Passenger gift shop can on most ships be purchased at a reduced rate.

I have seen ships which organize crew sales from the gift shop, for the people holding positions which are not allowed in guest areas – also at a discounted price.  

Crew Bar/Recreational Area:

On ships exists one or several bars, in which the personnel can purchase alcoholic beverages, cigarettes, soft drinks and bottled water, at a reduced rate.

Crew Gym:

Most ships nowadays have a crew gym and the usage of the equipment is free of charge.

The same goes for a crew pool – if available on your ship.

Spa/Hairdressers:

Onboard the ships I’ve worked, we had the possibility to get a haircut, a massage, a pedicure, a manicure and much more – at certain times for a reduced price, in the hair salon/Spa.

This was mostly available in port days, where most of the guests where on a shore excursion.

Shore Excursions:

If time allows and space is available on shore excursions for guests, often there is a possibility to go along for free. You would need to assist the shore excursion staff in counting guests, helping them into/out of the bus, etc.

Some cruise lines offer Shore Excursions to crew at a discounted rate. Each ship and cruise line is different - your colleagues onboard will know more.

Crew Welfare Program:

On most cruise ships exists a Crew Welfare Program, with a chairman, treasurer and members. Often soccer games, crew tours, evening entertainment and competitions, raffles and much more are organized by the crew welfare team. Some activities do cost a minimal fee, others are for free.

The above is only a brief overview of possible activities/venues on some of the ships which are sailing the seven seas. Since there are so many ships, so many different cruise lines it is not helpful to provide a pricelist for various activities.

Because the basic answer applies here as well: “It depends on your position and on the cruise line.”

Written by Scarlet Perez