Crew Stories: The first day joining a cruise ship

Oct 30, 2019

The First contract on a cruise ship was to last from November 5th, 2017 to February 28th, 2018. The best part about it was the route – I would board in Miami and then cruise south all the way to Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, and Chile. Exactly the parts of South America that I haven’t seen. Then from the end of November till mid-February, we would cruise to Antarctica. The only places I haven’t seen and traveled to are Africa and Inner North Europe. My list of visited countries was up to 37 and about 100 cities on six continents. 

I bought a new suitcase for this contract. The good thing was that I received my uniform onboard so I only had to pack my personal belongings – long black socks and cosmetics. No matter how much time you’ve spent on ships, your legs and spine need to adapt again to the fast pace. The first two weeks are always the hardest, especially for me because I had a one year break. 

All my suitcases were there and now I just have to find the Company van that will drive me to the hotel. The instructions I received were a bit confusing. I went up and down several times to find the Sector 22 where the van was waiting for us. I got there pretty late, at around 8 PM. 

I saw on Google Maps that the hotel was only about fifteen minutes away and after a thirty-minute wait I decided to get a cab to the hotel. Since it was so close I figured it wouldn’t be so expensive to get there. One man saw me standing with my suitcases and asked if I needed a ride. I explained where I was going and he said, “Okay, it’s going to cost you 30 Dollars”. I accepted. We spoke a bit about the situation in America, he told me how he emigrated for Africa a long time ago and that in time he was able to handle everything with the papers. He stayed and now he is satisfied. 

I arrived at the hotel, I gave my personal information at the reception and I was handed a key card. I expected to receive dinner coupons that I always received when I was working for Princess, but they told me that Seabourn doesn’t pay for dinner or breakfast. I was a bit surprised but no matter, I still had a sandwich form the plane. Plus it was late and I figured I would fall asleep soon. 

I showered, contacted my family to tell them that I landed and that everything was okay and I just went to bed. The paperwork stated that the Pickup bus would be arriving at the hotel to pick us up at 5.30 AM which I found unbelievable. With Princess contracts, we would usually get picked up at 8 AM so that people would have time to have breakfast.

The room had two beds so I expected some girl to join me soon. Just as I fell asleep there was a knock on the door. I opened the door and saw a guy standing there. He was stunned as well and apologized because he thought he had the wrong room. He went down to the reception to ask about the room number mix up. He came back after ten minutes and said: “Sorry, there was no mix-up, the Company placed us in the same room”. I was shocked and thought, “Whom the hell did I start working for? There was no transportation, no dinner or breakfast, and now they put me in a room with a man”.

I asked where he was from because he looked European, maybe Ukrainian. He said, “I’m from Belgrade, Serbia. My name is Milos, nice to meet you”. I shake his hand and said “Come on, speak Serbian so that the whole world can understand you. Thank God, at least you’re Serbian”. 

We were excited but still a little puzzled. It was even a bit awkward. Luckily I was wearing my good pajamas. In order to relax a bit and start talking I offered him some homemade Rakia that I brought with me. He ended up drinking everything that I had but at least we had a nice talk.

He’s been working as a bartender on Seabourn cruises for seven years. He told me a lot of things and I thought how great it would be if we could be assigned to the same bar. It would mean a lot to me and at the end that happened. I asked him “What is this about the 5.30 AM pick up, we won’t have time for breakfast? It’s always so hectic when boarding the ship, we won’t have any time to eat”. He looked at my papers and said “Wow they really misinformed you. Don’t worry, the bus arrives at 8 AM so we ‘ll have time for breakfast”. 

We paid for the buffet and headed towards the ship after breakfast. I was so excited and I followed Milos and some other colleagues all the way.