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Do Crew Members Ever Get Time to Themselves?

Norwegian Jade

Crew members are rarely seen not looking their polished best on cruise ships – from tidy uniforms to attentive behaviours and big smiles.

It would be easy to assume that this is crew members’ natural state thanks to a good work-life balance.

They often work hard for long periods of time, and when crew members do get a few hours, they socialize or make use of the ship facilities – all standard activities for ship passengers.

On the grounds of anonymity, crew members shared what they get up to if or when they get some time to themselves.

“Outside work, activities are very limited in the last few months,” one crew member told Cruise Industry News. “At some points, we had the gym and basketball court closed for all activities. The ship is currently in Europe and preparing to start operation in a few days. The crew gym is open for a limited number of crew members, and passenger gym is closed for final maintenance before the guests come onboard.

“Basketball courts are open only for tennis and basketball practice shots with a limited number of people on the court. Playing sports that require physical contact – like soccer or basketball – is forbidden.”

The crew member said that he has no days off in his three-month contract.

“Since quarantine was set in place, contracts got extended by two weeks: seven days of quarantine for myself at the beginning and seven days at the end of the contract for my reliever’s quarantine,” he concluded.

Another cruise ship employee, who works as a deck officer, said that despite having a four-hours-on-eight-hours-off schedule, he doesn’t feel like he has a lot of free time due to having an abnormal sleep schedule.

“I do enjoy catching a show when possible or heading to the crew recreation area to hang out with other crew and friends,” he added.

According to the deck officer, he works seven days a week for four months, with a two month-break ashore at home in between.

“Still trying to sort out my work-life balance,” he said. “I do spend more time on ships than at home, so it’s tricky.”

Another crew member said that those employees who have guest access can sometimes enjoy a comedy or theater show or dine at a specialty restaurant, which is “always nice.”

“Most of the time you just want to hit the sack and get some rest,” he noted.

“When you arrive on a ship, you know that for the next six months you will work harder than ever before …  Sure, you have time after your shift to go to crew parties and crew bar, but that’s what makes seamen legends is that we can work 10-hour shifts with four hours of sleep,” the crew member added.

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