How it’s where the cruise ship crew live and party

  • I worked on cruise ships for six years, so I know the life of the crew on board well.
  • Staff members typically live with a roommate in tiny cabins with bunk beds and small closets.
  • We usually eat at our own buffet and hang out after work at the team bar.

Between the all-you-can-eat buffet, glamorous destinations, and 24-hour entertainment, living on a cruise ship feels luxurious, but there’s a whole other world below deck.

I worked on cruise ships for six years so I know full well how crew members eat, sleep and live.

Here’s what it’s really like to live on board, in my experience:

Most crew cabins are tiny

Crew cabin on cruise ship which is white and blue with a door, desk and wardrobe

The average cabin is approximately 120 square feet.

Erica DePascale

Measuring approximately 120 square feet, the crew cabins are generally narrow and have no windows.

a small closet with hanging clothes and life jackets on top next to a photo of a mini fridge with a TV above

We have storage space and a small refrigerator.

Erica DePascale

They are usually furnished with a set of bunk beds with privacy curtains, a

mini fridge
, a desk, a closet and a television with a side table.

The crew bathroom on a cruise ship, which is very small with a sink, sink and shower

The bathrooms are extremely small.

Erica DePascale

Although each cabin has its own bathroom, it is usually so small that you can brush your teeth, use the toilet, and take a shower at the same time.

A small room on a cruise ship showing the entrance to a bathroom, bunk beds, a desk and a door

The rooms are equipped with some furniture.

Erica DePascale

Crew members in higher positions have better cabins

In my experience, managers and officers usually have cabins with a porthole and a double bed, as well as an extra rollaway bed for guests.

They also usually receive daily housekeeping while most of the crew are responsible for cleaning their own cabins.

Most crew members have roommates

A crew cabin on board the cruise ship with bunk beds, a small closet and white walls

Most cabins have bunk beds.

Erica DePascale

Roommates are usually assigned by division, but I’ve found it easy to move in with a friend if you want.

The bottom bunk is highly coveted in the crew world – roommates usually claim it as soon as the other terminates their contract.

The chalets are divided into “quarters”

crew members sitting in a long beige hallway and chatting

The crew’s corridors are named after avenues and famous places.

Erica DePascale

There are crew cabins on several floors, from deck 00 – below sea level – to deck three, although the captain and deck officers usually live next to the higher deck.

The main crew corridor that runs through the entire ship is nicknamed I-95, after the popular American highway. There is always a lot of foot traffic and tons of carts and carts so we need to be careful when walking around them.

Crew members must sort their own waste

All of the ship’s waste ends up in the incinerator room, but there are many categories to sort the waste into.

Although the housekeepers sort out the guests’ garbage, the team is responsible for separating their garbage in the correct bins.

We also usually do our own laundry

On larger ships, there are several laundry areas for the crew, which resemble laundromats.

But our uniforms can be dry cleaned for free in the official laundry room.

Staff members often enjoy parties and after-hours events at the crew bar

Cruise ship employees posing for a photo in a room

There are crew activities pretty much every day.

Erica DePascale

After work, most employees meet at the team bar, which is usually a covered outdoor space with a functional bar and dance floor.

Events like bingo, karaoke, full crew parties, and trivia happen almost every day.

There is a separate buffet for the crew

The crew’s mess is a buffet with fixed times for meals at different times of the day.

It typically offers more international fare – like Filipino, Indian, and Caribbean cuisine – than the guest buffet to represent the hundreds of staff from different countries.

The mess often has special themes, like pancakes with the captain or a barbecue day, as well as late-night options like pizza and lasagna.

There are other places where the crew can relax

Most ships have a crew cafe where they can order coffee and juice.

There are usually computer, training and game rooms as well. The game room features video game consoles and popular arcade games like foosball, air hockey, billiards, and darts.

There is also a dedicated front or rear patio for staff to soak up the sun on lounge chairs. Some companies even offer a crew pool.

We also have a human resources center to discuss needs regarding cabins, payroll, contracts or the life of the crew.

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