It’s common knowledge that cruise ship crew have fairly demanding jobs. They often work up to 12 hours and may not see port for days at a stretch depending on the roster. But when they do get some free time, there are a few things they typically like to do.
International maritime law requires a minimum number of crew on board at all times, which when berthed is called In Port Manning. These duties are swapped around between departments on a regular basis so everyone gets a turn.
Being on In Port Manning doesn’t mean you’re stuck with a job. You could be free to do your own thing based on your roster unless there’s an emergency. This is usually the time cruise ship crew take to catch up on sleep.
Cruise ship chefs jobs are slightly less hectic during the day while in port since most guests eat ashore. Many crew members like to do some reading during their free time as well – perhaps they’re studying to get ahead in their careers, or just want to binge on a crime novel.
Internet is expensive on board, even for crew, so while they might write an email or two home, they will avoid live streaming shows or movies. For this, the cruise ship broadcasts popular films which crew members can watch in their rooms if they have a TV there or in the common lounge. Sometimes these may not be in English, so crew take the opportunity to brush up or get acquainted with a new language.
Cruise ship crew also use their free time to get their personal chores done. Perhaps they need to stock up on supplies from the on-board store, or get a haircut. One of the most important chores they like completing when they have time off is their laundry. It’s imperative that cruise ship crew are always impeccably dressed in a well-pressed uniform. Laundry rooms in the crew area are some of the busiest places on board.
Finally, some of the most fun memories on board are made in the crew bar. This is where you’ll find crew relaxing and spending time with their friends. Alcohol is sold at a far cheaper rate than at guest bars, and the cruise company often puts on theme nights to boost morale.
Many times, cruise ship crew will take the opportunity to go ashore and explore the area. Some cruise companies organise special tours at discounted rates for crew. Others host voluntary activities with local communities that crew can participate in.
Ship crew on their first run of the itinerary will mostly try to get out and enjoy time in port, discovering new restaurants, relaxing on the beach or doing other tourist activities. Seasoned crew prefer to take advantage of the high-speed internet available ashore to catch up with their families. Many cafés and restaurants cater specifically to crew and offer discounts and free Wi-Fi.
They also take the opportunity to do some shopping – not everything is available in the crew shop on board, and even these prices are slightly higher than those on land. Some ports offer a free shuttle service for crew to get to the main shopping hubs.
Crew often get together based on nationality and it’s not uncommon to see them heading to their favourite restaurant to get a taste of home. It offers a welcome departure from ship meals and keeps the homesickness in check.
Port calls are also a time for crew to send money home. Dozens of money transfer opportunities exist. Crew centres in port usually offer cheaper rates than the ones on board.
Cruise ship crew only have a few free hours in port and should use it in a way that helps maintain their mental well-being. But whatever they do, they must ensure they are back on board at least an hour before departure.