Crew member’s first experience with flights and ship agent

Sep 27, 2019

One of the things that have always worried me over the past 6 years working on ocean cruise ships is; Will I get my suitcases at the airport and will the company agent welcome me. 

The first time was not so great. I remember the first trip was up and down. At Nikola Tesla Airport in Serbia, queues and crowds are always present for morning flights, as honestly as anywhere else in the world. Fortunately, the Airport is small compared to Parisian or New York. Finding the gate is easy, mostly either on the left or on the right, tracking numbers getting through security checks. Boarding the plane, I found my seat and sat down, put my seatbelt on and after only five minutes I had to get up and put my bag in the top compartment. At that moment I realized that I didn’t know how to open the seatbelt. I look around, trying to see if someone else was unbuckling but no such luck. I grabbed the belt buckle; I pulled it around and pressed it. I got nervous because nothing was happening until the moment I saw an arrow on the buckle that shows how you should press it.

Being the blond that I am, I figured it out only after seeing that arrow. I landed in Rome after one hour and I had to wait for seven hours for my other flight to Venice. I thought, ”Christ, I could walk to Venice and get there faster”. Fiumicino airport is huge and full of shops and cafes. I decided to sit and have a cup of coffee. They don’t say for nothing that Italians have great coffee, that one espresso gave me enough caffeine to keep me awake for those seven hours that I had to wait. 

That also passed and I finally arrived at the Venice airport. No one was there, there were no Princess Cruises signs, no agent who was supposed to meet me and show me where I had to go next. I started to panic. At least my suitcase didn’t get damaged, I was very nervous about that as well. 

I went to the Information desk, it was covered in glass. I spoke in English, I explained the situation but they didn’t care. 

Either because they didn’t understand me, or because they just didn’t care. I found a payphone, old and like the ones from the 80s and everything was explained in Italian. 

Thankfully I met a lovely couple on the plane who spoke English so I asked them for help and asked if they could dial the emergency number that the agency gave me. 

They spoke for a while and it turned out that the company forgot to put my name on the list of employees who were arriving, and that’s why no one was there to pick me up. That was the first time when I got really upset about the organization – they didn’t update the employee list. 

Eventually, an agent showed up, we got in a car and headed to the hotel. 

There was another girl with me in the car, a German girl named Barbara, who worked for the company for ten years and she was an assistant in the Bar department. I really liked her, she helped me in the hotel – because they didn’t have me on a list, there was a possibility that I had to pay for the room myself. She told me that if that happens I should save the receipt and that I would be refunded when I arrived on the ship. I felt like a child next to her, I apologized about a 100 times and I wanted to hug her like she was my sister.  

The hotel was ultra fancy but my room was shockingly small. It had a bed, a small closet, a TV and a small bathroom (the shower was over the toilet), but it had a big balcony. It was bigger than the room. After embarking to the ship I realized that this was a great preparation for the crew cabin as well as the feeling of resourcefulness on board.

What really matters is the organization of both you and the company. Sometimes also luck plays a big role as well as the people you meet along the way.