Life As A Cast Member While On Board
Life as a cast member is a blast. As a cast member, one usually has more privileges then a regular crew member on a cruise ship. Many crew members say the cast are somewhat living a lavish lifestyle, similar to the guests vacationing on board, but that is not completely true. As a cast member, we still have to follow rules and remember that our number one job is our safety function, followed closely by enhancing the experiences of the guests while cruising. Rules and status of crew members depend on the class of ship as well as the cruise line. Due to personally working on more than one cruise ship line, I would like to share some privileges I’ve been granted as a cast member in the entertainment department.
1. Cast members get to go off shore like the guests! Going off shore is a privilege that definitely makes working on a cruise ship super cool. Many crew on board have to work during port days while guests go off shore to explore ports. Of course crew do get the opportunity to get off sometimes for some WIFI as well as have time to set their legs on land, but their time is much more limited off shore compared to a cast member. Cast get to sign up for excursions as escorts (depending on the cruise line) and also get to spend much more time in ports. On the other hand, cast do have IPM (import manning), which basically means a certain amount of crew have to stay on board in case an emergency takes place while the ship is docked in a port. IPM runs on a rotation for all safety functions (ie. Stairway guides, communicators, commanders, or sometimes departments), and ensures that everyone in the rotation has to stay on board for a certain amount of ports. I have personally experienced two different IPM systems: one where you would have IPM for an entire cruise a few times during a contract and another system where you would have IPM for one port day every cruise for an entire contract. Many cast members do not like IPM but honestly IPM can be great for those days you want to save money or just want some alone time on the ship. It is also great for laundry days!
2. Cast members, and crew in general get to see these ports multiples times! Yes this is another privilege that is probably one of the best parts of having a contract on a cruise ship. Cast members get to explore ports more than once, seeing much more than guests who cruise for one or two cruises. I was able to see Half-Moon Cay, Aruba, Curaçao, Panama Canal, Puerto Limon, and Cartagena 8 times each in my most recent contract; that is equivalent to vacationing for a little over a week in each of those locations! So many people would kill to have that opportunity! Not to mention as a cast member you are being paid to work, where as a guest they pay to come on board to see those places in a limited amount of time.
3. No Uniforms! Being a cast member, you get to dress in your own clothes. This privilege on the other hand entails some rules. A cast member has to always remember that they are setting an example of how to dress on ships as well as showing their professionalism as an employee on the cruise ship. Depending on the cruise line, the dress code varies, but generally some things to avoid in guest areas are:
- Shorts in the evenings
- Exposure of tattoos or piercings (ear piercings are acceptable for women)
- Exposure to mid-section (unless wearing a bathing suit)
- Being topless (unless males are swimming/tanning)
- Gym clothes/athletic wear
Some cruise lines have Gala nights, where cast members get to dress up really fancy with the guests. As a cast member, this is our time to shine! In the past, I have seen girls bring their prom dresses on board or invest in very elegant gowns. Sometimes, cast members will have side jobs where they have to do library duties, greet guests on embarkation/debarkation day, and/or teach dance classes (line dancing, ballroom, or potentially newer and popular dances). These side jobs may or may not entail a cast member to wear a uniform of some sort, but again this depends on the cruise line.
4. So much free time! Being a cast member on board, usually we work in the evenings. That means we get most of the day off to do whatever we’d like to do (ensuring that we follow set rules on board). Cast can be in guest areas and enjoy guest activities, as long as there is enough empty space for cast to insert themselves. Personally, I have taken up many hobbies while on board, as it is very easy to become bored. Some of my personal hobbies include: reading, blogging, journaling, and watching television series/movie series in consecutive order (Harry Potter is always a must to watch while on board). Additionally, I attend lots of events on board, such as guest entertainer shows, trivia, cooking shows, movies in the theatre, and crew parties. If one is contracted for a Caribbean itinerary, tanning is another great hobby. Overall, I would say working on a cruise ship is amazing for anyone who needs to give themselves personal space and self-nourishment. Likewise, working on ships is also great for couples as they get to see so many new places together, which in my opinion is a mini honeymoon/vacation for free! The last thing I will say about free time is that one should not get use to sleeping in all the time.Yes, cast members get to sleep in unlike most crew, but oversleeping can sometimes have a negative effect on an individual, if it becomes a pattern of hibernating in a cabin. It is good to get out of the cabin and see the light, as majority of crew members do not have windows in their cabins, due to being on lower decks then guests.
5. Cast members are allowed in guest eating areas.Due to different job descriptions on cruise lines, many crew are not allowed to eat in guest areas. Cast members on the other hand are usually allowed to eat in guest areas, as their job entails guest interaction not only on the stage but around the ship. Cast members can request to eat at restaurants like guests and can dine at the main buffet (unless completely filled and busy). Having a greater variety for dining is a plus to being a cast member, especially when working on a ship for a longer period of time.
Overall, life as a cast member while on board in very nice. Our food and shelter is provided to us, we are able to travel around the world to so many places, and last but not least, we get to do what we love to do: perform. As an artist, I would say that nothing makes me more happier than performing in front of an audience and moving them in some way. Whether I can make someone happy, or create a connection with a guest through my work, than I have succeeded. It is this moment I live for as a professional dancer. Yes, making money is always something one must do to making a living, but when performing the factor of money goes away. There are so many ways to inspire others and for me, dance is the art form. I have chosen to touch others through movement and storytelling. At the end of the day, there are so many ways to make a living but working on a cruise ship allows me to perform for so many, while earning a stable income for whatever the future holds.
Thank you for taking the time to read this blog and learn a little bit about my lifestyle while on board. This subject has so many detailed topics that I would love to elaborate on. Please feel free to contact me personally at email@example.com if you wish to hear more or would like me to blog about another subject. Goodbye for now xo