What Millennials are Looking for on Cruises

What Millennial's are Looking on CruisesThe generation born between 1980 and 2000 have a greater power than ever before on market trends. The millennial’s, as they are called, are the first generation to assimilate digital and virtual life. As such, their spending trends are pushing cruise ship companies to vye for their attention more and more.

Data has shown that millennial’s favour experiences over material objects. So when they travel, they prefer adventure, cultural immersion and unique experiences rather than a shopping trip or a hop on hop off tour to see famous sights.

Typically, cruise ships have catered to slightly older folk – vacationers over the age of 45, and their families. Most likely, many millennial’s first travelled on cruise ships as children and there is a certain level of nostalgia connected with cruising.

Still, as adults, they are unlikely to take a cruise unless it hits the mark on several criteria. For one, a cruise should offer value for money. It is more likely that they will opt for an all-inclusive package that incorporates many activities than a cheap base rate with expensive add-ons. They also have tighter budgets and will prefer to spend on unique activities on shore, rather than gambling at the casino on board.

Destinations are also equally important to millennial’s looking for cruises. Companies are expected to cater to ‘cool’ quotients and include ports that have vibrant culture and nightlife. Cruises around Spain and Barcelona should expect to spend a night at Ibiza so millennial guests can enjoy the island’s world-famous nightlife, instead of being in port just for a few hours.

More off-beat destinations are an attraction for millennial’s too. G Adventures, for example, offers a cruise that incorporates visits to the Galapagos Islands in South America as well as a hike up the Inca Trail in Peru and a stop in Quito, Ecuador, domestic flight included.

Others look at variety to sell holiday tickets to millennial cruisers. The Aida Prima gives guests an opportunity to tailor their vacation activities as they wish. It hosts theme parties and offers upbeat nightlife at the onboard discos as well as a range of workshops such as cocktail-making or sushi-making. In port, the cruise ship teams up with shore excursion companies to give millennial’s a taste of adventure, such as biking, canyoning or a tour in an open-air ATV.

Uniworld’s U tour runs on similar lines, but heads down Europe’s rivers instead. Its two ships – The A and The B – promise exciting and informative activities such as kayaking, mixology classes and wine tours, and even a chance to share a meal with locals for a truly immersive cultural experience.

Other cruises are attracting millennial’s interested in making a difference or those who are environmentally or socially conscious. Carnival’s Fathom offered cruises to the Dominican Republic where guests could engage with the local community and volunteer to do activities such as reforestation or teaching English over the time they spent there. Others like Peregrine Adventures organises cruises that are low impact, banning all single-use plastics including water bottles, cups and straws on its trips to Cape Verde, Senegal and The Gambia in Africa.

While there is no specific data yet on whether more millennial’s are opting to cruise, companies are certainly looking at the demographic as a potential market. Even large-scale commercial cruises are opening up to them as well, particularly by offering faster and cheaper internet packages so the digital generation can stay connected at all times.

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How Passengers Budget on a Cruise

How Passengers Budget on a CruiseMore people are sailing than ever before, and the numbers are expected to continue rising in the coming years. This may not mean that everyone has more disposable income. It could mean that they are spending their money a little more shrewdly.

Budget cruises are one of the key options travellers use when looking for a vacation. Beverages, fine dining, shore excursions and photo ops are some of the big money draws on a typical cruise. Guests travelling on budget cruises look for ways to drop their expenses on these elements.


Cruise passengers can reduce their expenses on holiday by opting for an inside room on board. This means they will not have the luxury of a balcony or view that staterooms on the outer portion of the vessel enjoy.

These rooms are smaller and cheaper, but for guests who prefer spending much of their time on activities, this rarely poses a problem. Booking at least six months in advance also brings the advantage of early bird deals, lower prices to certain off-beat destinations, free upgrades or even discounts for senior citizens.

Some budget cruises offer all-inclusive deals too, with food and beverage paid for in the cruise ticket price.

Food and beverage

This is one of the highest wallet busters on a cruise ship. Cruise ships offer free buffets in the main dining room but specialty restaurants are typically highly priced. Budget-conscious cruise goers may splurge on one or two fancy meals and enjoy the rest at free food and beverage outlets.

Cruise ships offer a multitude of free services and deals to attract customers to spend more. One of these is room service that is complimentary during the day, but chargeable at night. Ordering off menu could also invite an extra charge.

Alcohol brings in a lot of money for cruise ships. It is more expensive on board than land-based pubs, and this also applies to soft beverages such as sodas and even bottled water. To make indulging more attractive, cruise ships offer beverage cards, although these often include only select alcoholic drinks and most soft drinks.

To reduce these costs, passengers often keep their consumption in check on board and splurge in port. Refilling reusable water bottles at the main dining area allows them to save on bottled water.


Gratuities are an important part of cruising. A sizeable portion of eventual take home pay for many cruise ship jobs including service and housekeeping comes from tips. So it presents a moral issue as well to guests.

Tips are often included in bills at places like bars and premium dining, but guests are expected to spend about US$15 a day for wait staff, room stewards, bistro service staff and cooks, altogether.

There is also a customary gratuity envelope filled in at the end of the cruise. The charge card given to each guest allows them to pay for tips as well. Instead of paying the recommended amount up front, budget travellers keep the tip figure at zero and add gratuity as the service merits.

This is why it is important for people with cruise ship jobs to be at the top of their game and consistently deliver good service. At the end of the day, it reflects in your paycheck.


There are several other ways travellers enjoy cruises on a budget. Some of these include booking their own shore excursions, using spa facilities and internet cafes in port, visiting local restaurants, using loyalty programme perks, etc.

All of this keeps more people cruising and the industry booming, which in turn means excellent employment prospects for those looking for cruise ship jobs.

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Why Jumping Ship is the Worst Idea for Cruise Ship Crew

Why Jumping Ship is the Worst Idea for Cruise Ship CrewEven today, there is a very real distinction between economies across the world. For many in developing nations, living in the west can seem like a dream come true. For cruise ship crew, the temptation to jump ship lurks at every port as the picturesque landscape and squeaky clean seaside towns beckon.

The lure of jumping ship is great as we often perceive western countries, particularly the US, as lands of great opportunities, high salaries and a good life. The reality can be starkly different, especially when you have no documents and have overstayed your visa. It is simply a struggle from the bottom.

In the current economic and political climate, international borders have been brought under extreme scrutiny. Across Europe and the US, even valid tourist visa applications are being rejected on a slight suspicion of possible overstaying.

In such a scenario, jumping ship or overstaying visas poses huge problems for cruise ship crew. Some companies remain quite concerned about this possibility and in rare cases, there could be an agent or security guard escorting departing crew from the ship to the airport.

As cruise ship crew, you are eligible for a C1/D visa to the US – and similar visas in other Western nations – which permit you to remain in the country as long as the ship stays in that particular port. Once the ship has departed the port, you are expected to have left the country. Most cruise ship companies buy tickets for departing crew for the same day their contract on board ends.

If you do overstay, the consequences can be quite serious on the work front, and you may never be eligible for another US visa again. According to the rules, if you overstay your visa by 180 days, but less than a year, you can be barred from re-entering the US for up to three years. If you overstay for even a day more than a year, you are looking at a 10-year-ban on entering the US.

Consider the consequences of this. You will officially be an illegal immigrant, and the western world is increasingly cracking down on people without valid documentation. You may be able to find work but generally on the low-end of the hierarchy. This means being paid minimum wage, but shelling out for food, utilities and rent.

If you take Florida as an example, where many cruise ships begin their trips from, the minimum wage is about US$8.25 per hour. A studio apartment on average costs about US$1200 to rent per month and electricity bills average about US$130 monthly. In addition, you will have to pay for gas to cook food, and groceries will set you back around US$270 each month. Each trip to a primary care doctor will set you back $95 or more. And this estimation does not cover transportation and any other expenses, such as state taxes or entertainment.

Cruise ship crew who still take the hard route and jump ship eventually feel the need to come home to see family they have left behind. Some do not see relatives for decades. This becomes a huge dilemma given the ban on re-entering the US. Even if they do leave and attempt to apply for another visa – say a work permit, this offence will pop up in the system and it is most likely that the overseeing officer will deny them the visa as trust has been lost.

There are others who marry citizens and try to use this route as a way to get a green card. The US has been taking measures to avoid dishonest unions or marriages of convenience, and each application is thoroughly scrutinised. Laws typically require that the citizen spouse returns to the offender’s country to stay out the period of the entry ban, except in very dire circumstances such as medical requirements.

Jumping ship and overstaying a visa is certainly not the best idea to create opportunities. It is far better to take the legal route.

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Facilities for Cruise Ship Crew

Facilities for Cruise Ship CrewLife at sea for a cruise ship crew revolves mostly around work. Long hours with no days off make up every day of your contract. However, cruise line companies ensure that cruise ship crew have a number of facilities at their disposal to keep them happy at work.

Accommodation & food

Room and board is paid for by the cruise ship company. Typically, each crew member shares his or her cabin with another, most often of the same sex. Only in special cases where heterosexual spouses or long-term partners get permission from the company are they allowed to share a cabin.

These days, each room is equipped with an en-suite shower and toilet, a desk, mini fridge, safe box, storage space for luggage and sometimes a television. For crew, the layout often involves bunk beds to save on space, but higher ranked officers get either separate bedrooms or a room to themselves.

Cruise ship crew also have separate galleys and buffet areas for them where they are served delicious food ranging from healthy and nutritious to decadent comfort food. Often, menus are designed keeping the nationalities of the crew in mind, so Indians can expect to find rice, dal, curries, rotis and familiar vegetable preparations.


For cruise ship crew to be able to put in their long hours, companies offer additional amenities for various conveniences. Laundry areas – either free or for a very nominal fee – ensure that crew have clean uniforms to wear every day. They are available 24 hours a day as cruise ship crew work in shifts.

There is also a separate convenience store and medical shop where cruise ship crew can get daily essentials such as batteries, stationery, hygiene products as well as medications for a variety of illnesses particularly common colds and sea sickness.

A doctor is available on call especially for crew so they can get treated at the slightest sign of an illness. This helps cruise ship companies nip conditions such as norovirus in the bud before they can turn into potentially dangerous epidemics.


To keep crew happy, cruise ship companies offer a variety of entertainment and leisure options. There are outdoor and indoor spaces reserved solely for crew, where passengers are prohibited from entering.

Here, you will have access to a swimming pool and sunbathing areas, a gym, recreation room with indoor games such as snooker or billiards, foosball, chess and cards. There’s also a lounge area with a DVD player, a library of books and specially designated crew smoking zones.

Additionally, there is a crew bar and disco offering beverages at rates much lower than what passengers would pay. A specific department on board caters to the crew entertainment and regularly organises everything from volunteering activities to theme parties, with something new happening each week.

All of this keeps the cruise ship crew motivated and happy to perform at their peak and stay loyal to the company.

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Safety From Infectious Diseases on Board

Safety From Infectious Diseases on BoardConsidering the thousands of passengers embarking on each cruise trip, and the hundreds of crew changes occurring every month, there is no dearth of viruses and germs all around. Cruise ship crew may be insured, depending on the company policy, but as always, prevention is better than cure.

One of the most common illnesses on cruise ships is gastrointestinal disease. Often, norovirus is the main culprit. This is highly contagious and because the disease spreads easily, can turn into an epidemic very quickly.

Most gastrointestinal diseases are characterised by nausea, vomiting, abdominal and/or muscle pain and diarrhea. If you experience any of these, it is time to tell the ship’s doctor and get treated.

An important part of cruise ship jobs is hygiene and sanitation within the galley, service and storage areas in particular. It might be hard to keep guests from transmitting the disease, but ensuring the virus does not have a chance to multiply keeps any infection from spreading or affecting many people at one time.

According to the Centre for Disease Control (CDC), great care and hygiene must be taken during storage, preparation, service and sanitation. One of these is personal hygiene, which includes washing hands thoroughly, bathing regularly, wearing clean uniforms and reporting any illnesses.

Others include maintaining food within its safe temperature zones – hot food remains hot and cold food remains cold. Bacteria multiply quickly in temperatures ranging between 40F and 140F, doubling in just 20 minutes. Any food left out at room temperature for more than two hours can fall into this temperature zone and be susceptible to harbouring dangerous bacteria.

Appropriate utensils must be used for various food items during preparation, and safety rules call for products to be stored according to strict rules – for example, raw meats and fresh vegetables cannot be stored next to each other. There are various procedures to follow when washing dishes and sanitising them as well.

In addition to gastrointestinal diseases, cruise ship crew are also susceptible to a few other infections. One among these is influenza, which also spreads easily because of close contact with others. It can also be transmitted through sneezing and coughing, so – just like norovirus – many places touched by infected people such as door knobs and handrails will be contaminated.

It can help to speak to your doctor before you join the ship and if recommended, get a flu vaccine to keep yourself protected. If you are not protected against chickenpox, it might be wise to get a vaccine for this disease too. It is infectious and can involve complications for adults.

Also beware of vector-borne diseases such as malaria, zika and yellow fever. These have been known to affect common cruise destinations such as Brazil, the Caribbean islands and Latin America. Remember to wear protective clothing or insect repellent when making port in these areas to stay safe.

Finally, it is important to practice safe sex when on board. Many cruise ship crew have sexual encounters during their contracts, often with multiple partners. This increases the risk of STDs, including HIV/AIDS. Pregnancy among staff may not be well received by the company either.

While some cruise ships offer free condoms and other contraceptives to crew, it may not always be the case. In such cases, check with the cruise medical store or carry your own.

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How to Get a Cruise Ship Chef Job

How to Get a Cruise Ship Chef JobSome of the most coveted positions in the marine hospitality world are cruise ship chef jobs. For those passionate about the culinary arts, these careers offer exciting new avenues, higher-than-normal pay – for developing countries at least – and excellent exposure.

So how do you get a job on a cruise ship?

The first thing to do is to determine whether or not you are indeed cut out for this type of job. Understand the environment you will be working in and how ready you are for it. Cruise ship chef jobs involve working seven days a week for between four to six months, and often 14 hours a day.

This also means often working through holidays such as Diwali, Christmas and New Year, and being far away from family at this time. You will get a couple of months off between contracts but there is no guarantee that these will coincide with the holiday season back home.

Staff live at sea for the entire duration of the contract. Those with a tendency to fall sea sick often might want to consider how this might affect their work. Mild seasickness is common and you get over it and used to it quickly. But more persistent conditions can become a liability.

Another factor to consider is being away from family, friends and familiar people for months on end. Communication back home is limited but certainly available. You will have to make do with short calls that depend on internet connectivity most days.

The next thing to do when trying to get a cruise ship chef job is to check whether you have the qualifications, experience and most importantly, aptitude for the job. Do you want to be a chef? Do you have a passion for cooking good food, presenting beautiful dishes, serving people and interacting with them?

Check cruise ship company websites for various posts and check the qualifications and experience required. Some positions ask for a year or two of similar work experience in a shore-based job. If you don’t have the requirements, you can work towards it and perhaps land a better position on board instead of having to start at the very bottom of the hierarchy.

While it is possible to get cruise ship chef jobs by applying directly, it is probably a better shot to go through recruitment agencies. Do your research on various cruise ship recruitment agencies and be aware of fly-by-night operators and scamsters. Good recruitment agencies like Kamaxi Overseas Consultants work with reputed cruise ship companies, and you can always cross reference information.

Always check the position you are applying for and tweak your CV to reflect the work experience, volunteer work and qualifications they want in a prospective employee. For example, it helps to highlight that you handled the dessert bar at your local café if you are applying for the job of a pastry chef, even if you had more experience cooking Chinese food at a pan-Asian restaurant.

The final process to get a cruise ship chef job includes a preliminary interview to check whether you are suitable. If you are not shortlisted for the job, the recruitment agency will inform you of your shortcomings so you can work towards it.

If you are shortlisted, there will be a technical interview to grasp your knowledge of the job at hand. After this, you will be interviewed by the cruise ship company – as opposed to being interviewed by the recruitment agency in earlier rounds.

Once you are selected, the recruitment agency will inform you of all the necessary documents required and how to process them. These include visas, STCW, police clearance, medicals and vaccinations, seaman’s book, etc.

You will then receive a joining date and a short orientation of what to expect during travel and on your first contract on board.

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Are you physically and mentally healthy for cruise ship jobs?

Are you physically and mentally healthy for cruise ship jobs?Staying healthy is an important part of life, not just work. But with cruise ship jobs, this aspect becomes doubly important. Living and working relatively far from land can pose problems although all cruise vessels offer some sort of medical aid on board.

However, they’re not taking any chances. In order to get on board in the first place, you will need a medical certificate, signed by an authenticated or approved doctor. Your recruitment agency – like Kamaxi Overseas – will help you get in touch with one in your vicinity.

This practice of certifying medical fitness of crew began 70 years ago when the International Labour Organisation realised the benefits of being healthy at sea. It wanted to ensure that crew were healthy so they do not pose a danger to others on board. This is especially true of cruise ships where crew live in close quarters with each other and can often come in contact with passengers – many of them over the span of a single day.

Therefore, Convention No 73 of the International Labour Organisation stated that anyone working on a ship must have a certificate signed by a medical practitioner that proves he or she is fit for the work he or she may be engaged in while on board.

The Pre-Employment Seafarers’ Medical Examination, or PEME, includes a wide range of tests to check for a number of health issues particularly pre-existing conditions that could manifest on board during the duration of the contract.

In the UK, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency offers guidance for about 17 conditions, but in general approved medical practitioners will ask any or all of the following: a Mantoux skin test to check for immunity to tuberculosis, chest x-ray, an ECG, and tests for blood, urine, immunology, liver function, blood pressure as well as pregnancy for women.

The doctor will look for a blood pressure reading that is around 140/90, check your body-mass index by measuring your height and weight and also see if you can pass an exercise or performance test.

It is also important to maintain good dental hygiene as some doctors may look at this as a parameter on which to consider you ‘fit’. When you go for your examination, carry along any medications you take regularly, as well as your glasses, a copy of any vaccinations you have received and contact lenses or spectacles if you use them. It is best to avoid actually wearing contact lenses as you will have to remove them during the appointment anyway.

Doctors will also ask you questions that will help determine your mental health, including queries about alcohol use/abuse, suicidal thoughts, homesickness, issues with concentration, side effects of medications, failed or stressful relationships, etc.

It helps to be honest about any issues or conditions as these play a big role in life on board, which involves long work hours and living with crew members from around the world.

While on board, the onus is on you to keep yourself physically and mentally fit so you can do your job well. If you are deemed unfit at any point, the cruise ship company may send you home as they would prefer not to take any risks.

Cruise ship jobs will have you working seven days a week, but they do offer some free time. Fill this up with activities that keep you healthy. Many crew members fall prey to the temptation of ignoring their physical health.

To avoid this, Use some free time to hit any of the various activity or recreation centres built especially for crew – the gym or swimming pool, etc. Be mindful of what you eat as the food in the crew mess offers enticing comfort food options from around the world that can be high in calories. They also offer fruit, vegetables and other healthy options but the temptation to choose the former over the latter is strong.

Stay mentally active and relaxed by engaging in some meditation every day or a hobby you enjoy – such as learning a new language from another crew member. Crew Wifi allows you to stay in touch with friends and family back home. On board, stay away from negative people, and make a few friends you can trust so you can speak to them if you feel mentally exhausted or strained.

Your good health – physical and mental – ensures a happy and long career on cruise ships.

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Why Working On a Cruise Ship Could be your Dream Job

Why Working On a Cruise Ship Could be your Dream JobSo much of our lives is spent working. There is no better way to live than being engaged in a job you love. For this reason, there are many who look to working on cruise ships as dream jobs thanks to the variety of opportunities available and the work environment. Here are just a few reasons why working on a cruise ship could be your dream job:

A booming industry

Everyone likes to get on the bandwagon of a booming industry. It means more open positions, possibly higher salaries and a variety of experiences. More people are travelling than ever before, and cruise ships are getting larger and more exciting. This is fuelled by the increasing demand for cruise holidays and, with it, brings coveted jobs to your doorstep.

The demand is currently so high that cruise ship companies headquartered in and operating from the US have opened offices in south east Asia to meet their needs. In India, the key is to go with a reputed recruitment company, like Kamaxi Overseas, to ensure you get placed with good companies.

Training on the job

No matter your educational qualifications, all cruise companies offer you hands-on training to bring you up to speed with the regulations of the ship and the way things work on board. You’ll receive training in safety at sea, first aid and what to do in case of emergencies. All of these sessions give you life skills that you can apply to any situation in the future. And the training is part of your job, so you get paid for it!

Promotions and benefits

While contracts may be long and work may be hard, sticking with a cruise ship company has its advantages. A majority of cruise ship crew start at the bottom, and with diligence and consistency, they can rise through the ranks. Cruise ship members often tend to stick with companies for added benefits they get due to loyalty. Some crew have worked with companies for a decade or more. With good companies, it’s possible to get flexibility with contracts, a preference for certain ships within the fleet and more career opportunities.

Travel while you work

Without exotic locations and exciting port activities, a cruise ship would be a failure. As part of the crew, you are guaranteed a certain amount of time off. Many crew members take advantage of this and are able to explore destinations they would otherwise only have dreamed of visiting. Good cruise ship companies also organise separate port excursions for crew members which are often cheaper than those for guests. Those with cruise ship chef jobs can widen their food experiences by experimenting with different local tastes and learning things along the way.

Conditions keep getting better

While the past may have seen much negative criticism by way of cruise ships taking advantage of crew, times are changing. Companies have realised that happy crew are a key to making a difference in their guests’ experience. One cannot expect five-star conditions for employees, but cruise ships have a variety of facilities – from entertainment and sports to training and low-cost communications or stores – just for crew. The only thing they expect in return is hard work and adherence to ship policy.

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What to Expect from Cruise Ships of the Future

What to Expect from Cruise Ships of the FutureThe future of cruise ships is already here. Technology has advanced to a great extent and is being incorporated by companies at a quicker pace than ever, solely to enhance the guest experience.

Everything a cruise ship company does is aimed at setting itself apart and creating a brand identity – something to differentiate itself from all the other players out there. Cruise ships are combining a powerful mix of technology, service and marketing to create not just memorable holidays, but experiences.

As they move forward in time, companies are building on the data and trends of today to surge forward and build ships of the future. Today, iPads are increasingly common in hotels where guests can adjust temperature and mood lighting, book a restaurant reservation or wake up call, or even print travel tickets.

For hospitality staff such as cleaning crew, electronic sensors inform them of heat signatures in the room so they are aware if a guest is in. Royal Caribbean’s Quantum of the Seas began as a project in February 2011, and is considered one of the most technologically advanced cruise ships sailing at the moment. Even for today’s standards, much of its offerings are certainly advanced.

The aim of the company – as with many other companies now – is to build a cruise ship that caters to people who want to be perpetually connected to the world. This means futuristic technology and high-speed internet, the latter being one of the biggest shortcomings on cruise ships thus far.

It gives guests the opportunity to plan their day in advance or change their minds on a whim, get a seat in a restaurant without a reservation, and still be connected to the world they left behind. Guests on Quantum of the Seas are able to video chat and perhaps even live stream their activities thanks to an innovative system that tracks the closest satellite overhead and hops to the next one every hour to offer almost 600MB of internet capacity.

This means more guests can get online at the same time for a cheaper rate, and Royal Caribbean can charge the same internet rates that are applicable to land-based hotels. The aim is to draw as new customers the millennial generation that is perpetually connected so they can share images, videos and posts on the go while enjoying their vacation.

To enhance the guest experience, the ship goes so far as to use high-definition TVs positioned vertically along the cabin wall displaying the ocean going by to offer the illusion of a balcony to every room. Guests can even sky-dive in a wind tunnel out on deck and visit the Bionic Bar where robotic arms designed by MIT mix cocktails for guests pre-ordered on a tablet system that informs them how long they have to wait for the drink to be made.

But Royal Caribbean isn’t the only one on board the technology express. Costa Cruises has started a 4GoodFood project that is looking at reducing on board food waste by 50 per cent by 2020. The project is hoping to engage cruise ship crew as well as guests by sustainably improving preparation without losing quality and encouraging Taste Don’t Waste at buffets.

In the cruise ship kitchens, it focused on seasonal and local produce, used kitchen scales and records to assess food wastage during preparation, and trained galley staff in reducing waste.

Soon, cruise ship guests will be able to tailor their rooms to their requirements before even arriving – set temperature and lighting, alarms, brew coffee while they are taking a shower. Or perhaps your smart home will relay your preferences directly to your hotel or cruise ship to adjust the settings according to its collected data. The sky’s the limit!

The Internet of Things allows for truly personalised services, and the hospitality and cruise ship industry are not far behind in realising its potential and working towards implementation.

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How USPH regulations bring in cruise ship guests

How USPH Regulations bring in Cruise Ship GuestsIn a large industry, nothing can work smoothly without rules and their implementation. With most big cruise ship companies plying in the Caribbean having headquarters in the US, it is imperative that they follow applicable laws.

The United States Public Health or USPH ratings are taken as the gold standard among cruise ship companies around the world as to the quality of hygiene on their vessels. Ships are inspected typically twice a year, and these visits come unannounced. This means that inspectors from the Center for Disease Control – which sets the USPH rules – are able to observe a vessel as it functions on a regular day. Cruise ship inspections take place under the USPH Vessel Sanitation Program.

The USPH came into being to curb the spread of gastrointestinal diseases on board cruise ships. Previously, cruises were notorious for norovirus epidemics which spread quickly in the confined areas through cross-contamination.

USPH rules are applicable to all crew and staff on board and they must be followed at all times – whether one is on duty or off. The regulations govern all waters belonging to all US territories and as well as areas covered by its agreements and treaties with other nations.

The main aim of the Vessel Sanitation Program is to keep guests and crew safe from infections while on board. Effectively, a good USPH score can boost the cruise ship’s image in the eyes of potential guests.

Cruise ship companies use good USPH ratings to their advantage during marketing. Many cruise goers come from at risk groups – such as the elderly and young children, whose immune system may be more susceptible to infections. So when booking a holiday at sea, they will be more likely to look at cruise ships with good USPH scores.

The Vessel Sanitation Program rates ships on a scale of 0-100, and any score of 85 and below is considered failed. A ship that has failed is not allowed to sail until appropriate rectifications are made that help them attain a passing score. High-risk violations must be corrected immediately – such as temperatures at which food is stored or disposing of items that have passed their expiry date.

Other violations may take time to be rectified, such as a documentation system that fails to identify a crew member’s immediate contacts on board other than cabin mates, such as a spouse or partner.

Inspection reports are available to the public online and are updated as and when a ship has been checked. For potential guests, knowing the type of violation a vessel lost points on can play an important role in determining where they spend their money.

Documentation violations may not hold much significance, but poor sanitation systems and galley hygiene can push them to look at other companies.

Cruise ship companies must constantly be on their toes to keep their systems in order, not just to pass the USPH inspections but also to attract their guests. Most ships that follow regulations score around 97 per cent. So a score of 87 may take a vessel over the USPH passing mark, but it is considered a poor score in the world of cruising.

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