IT turns out what happens at sea doesn’t always stay at sea, as cruise ship workers have been spilling the beans on what it’s really like to work on the floating hotels.
From creepy officers who spy on guests while they’re having sex, to random hook-ups with holidaymakers – the wild truth about working at sea has been revealed.
Former crew members have taken to Reddit to share their experiences of life at sea – the good, the bad and the ugly.
Working on a cruise ship may seem like a dream job, but according to ex-employees there are plenty of downsides to the role.
Workers complained of the awful food they were given and the surprising regularity with which they find dead guests.
But despite this, the opportunity to travel to over 75 countries often outweighed all of the downsides to the job.
If you’re on a cruise ship with a private balcony then don’t presume that means you have any privacy.
One ex-cruise ship worker of six years revealed that officers on the bridge – the room or platform where the ship is commanded – would watch guests have sex on their balconies “all the time”.
The ex-crew member called Whateverdude1 said: “On ships where the bridge is located, there are extensions so the officers can observe while docking.
“From there you can see a lot of ocean view balconies. Officers say they see people f***ing All.The.Time.”
Cruises have a reputation for appealing to elderly holidaymakers, which means that finding dead bodies on board is very normal.
A Redditor called Antium, who used to work on cruise ships, claimed that many retirees think of cruises more like nursing homes than a holiday.
He said: “Odds are, someone died on your cruise. Think about all the old folks you see get onto the boat – they are literally taking cruises until they die and we eventually find them in their cabins.”
Another cruise worker who goes by the name Pixielix agreed, saying:“We get at least three deaths on board a month. There are morgues and a jail cell below deck”.
Drinking like a sailor
Holidaymakers on cruises tend to drink a lot, but that’s nothing compared to the party atmosphere going on below deck.
Alcohol is incredibly cheap at some of private crew bars and the party only gets going at midnight, when the guests are all heading off to bed.
Cruise worker Pixielix revealed: “We don’t want you to know that we actually have more fun than the guests.”
“Sure we’ll work the big white hot party that you’re all going to, but once we finish our shift all hell is breaking loose in the crew bar.
“Just below and to the sides of where you are sleeping there are crew members having sex, smoking and drinking. Our beers are $1 (78p).”
Sleeping with the guests
Sleeping with the guests is strictly prohibited on board cruise ships, with strict consequences for any member of staff caught copulating with a tourist – but that doesn’t stop it happening.
Ex-cruise worker Whateverdude1 said: “You can’t sleep with guests! Rule #1. [But] everybody did it.”
He said: “There was one guy who was f***ing a girl in the girls’ bathroom and he accidentally pressed her against the handicapped alarm button, so security and nurses burst in few minutes later.”
According to one former cruise ship musician, fraternising with holidaymakers is so commonplace that staff even have a special term for it.
Telenovelarocks admitted: “We call sleeping with passengers ‘coning’ as passengers were ‘cones’.
“We are not allowed to f*** to passengers… but we do know the all the nooks and crannies the cameras don’t reach.”
While guests on top deck receive a silver service, it turns out that cruise workers don’t get their hands on the same delicious food that’s offered up to the holidaymakers.
Elbrad, a DJ for two years on one cruise line described it as “dumpster” food.
He said: “It’s like someone saw a picture of a buffet, and said ‘I can make that!’ but only had access to dumpster leavings.”
“Many a night I’d wander to the staff mess and ask someone along the way what was for dinner and the reply was ‘Toast and cereal’.
They also had a pink dessert served in little metal cups, and if there was any left over, it would appear upside down, sans la cup, on a small plate the next day.
“If it was still uneaten on the third day, it became ‘Boob Food’, with a squirt of whipped-cream on the top.
Even more disgusting was the claim from an employee called Williamod84 about the chefs’ cooking techniques.
He said: “The food has an extra bit of oil and fat in it to make your s**t soft. This is done to reduce the stain on the ship’s plumbing”.
Ultimate sea sickness
Cruises are a hotbed of germs, but even more so in crew quarters where workers are packed tightly together into bunks.
A jazz musician calling himself Caltranetimeman, played on a ship for a couple of summers and was shocked by the speed with which illness could spread.
He said: “Disease spreads incredibly fast. There were a couple of episodes of a stomach flu taking over the ship and it was so bad that I thought we were going to have to get the CDC to disinfect the ship.”
Travelling the world makes it all worth it though
While the pay cheque may be small and the accommodation even smaller, it’s getting to see the world that makes the job worth it for most cruise ship workers.
One content cruise worker said: “In five years on cruise ships, I visited every continent except Antarctica and went to over 75 countries.”