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My first day onboard a cruise ship

ld like to take you back to February 1992, when I started to work onboard a cruise ship.

For those of you who have grown up with computers, internet, e-mail and mobile phones, things might be a little difficult to understand - but at that time, there were no such things as email, SMS, internet and online check-in.

Before setting off...

After having passed the job interview, I received a phone call announcing me that I would be hired. I got my contract and visa letter by post. With this, I made an appointment at the US embassy and paid my visa fees.

5 days prior to my departure to Antigua, I got a phone call with the airline ticket details and the information that the ticket would be waiting for me at the British Airways counter at my home airport.

My first day onboard a cruise ship

Travel complications

The first shock came on the day of my departure. It was announced in the news on the radio that my home airport is closed due to fog. So, another call to the Cruise lines and they said – you have to go anyway, because your ticket is there.

So, off to the British Airways counter. Not only was the departure airport closed, but also London – due to fog. After 5 hours of waiting, I was put on a flight to London, but of course by then the flight to Antigua had left already. A hotel room was arranged for me by the airline and the next day I was on my merry way.

So, the original plan of spending an overnight in Antigua, before joining the ship had already been altered.

Once I arrived in Antigua, there was luckily a person waiting, holding a sign with my name (and three other names) on it.

I was told, that we had to wait for 3 hours until everybody arrives. Five hours later everybody was there and we were taken by the port agent to the ship.

First time on a cruise ship

It was a small ship, compared to what is out there now – but for the first time, it seemed “huge”.

First I had to go through the sign-on process, give away my passport, fill out a million of papers, hand over my medical report, read through the rules and regulation book and sign it.

Then I met a whole bunch of people. I could not remember their names right away, I was shown my work place, guided to my cabin, taken to the laundry to get my uniform.

After the uniform was fitted I had to find my way back to my cabin, fish out of my luggage what I needed, take a shower, get into my uniform and report to my work station - the bar.

After a short introduction to the Bartender and Assistant Bartender, I had to stand with a tray of Champagne at the entrance to the bar and greet the embarking guests.

Not only the crew members, but also the guests asked the same questions: "Where are you from, what did you do before, is this the first time on a ship, how was your trip, why did you decide to work on a cruise ship, where did you learn English…"

Needless to say, that I was a little overwhelmed after all the travel I had done, the time difference, being the first time onboard a ship and meeting so many new people at once.

I stayed working on cruise ships for more than 10 years. It was worth to just jump into the water and learn to swim.

Written by Scarlet Perez