Cabin Boys and Galley Rats: Jobs on the Cruise Ship

The internal organisation of a cruise-ship tends to be hierarchical and highly regimented. Ultimately, a cruise ship is like any other large, ocean-bound vessel – it is commanded by a captain and his officers. Whatever your position on board, passenger or employee, you are answerable to the captain. You won’t have to salute him or anything, but you should know your place.

Outside of the officers’ elite, a small army of staff is needed to maintain the ship’s ‘front-of-house’. Dancers, comedians, musicians, life-guards, holistic therapists, bar persons, waiters and waitresses, hosts, chefs, sales persons, croupiers and receptionists are just a few of the employees you’ll find on board. These jobs tend to be the most coveted, as they grant many of the same privileges as paying passengers.

Occupying slightly lower ranks in the social hierarchy are the general cabin hands and servants. Cleaners, maids and kitchen assistants are the bulk of these ‘back of house’ employees. Generally, these roles will not require a lot of face-to-face interaction with passengers, but liaison with other departments is standard.

In the deepest recesses of the ship, lurk the crew. Occupying a network of labyrinthine tunnels, rarely surfacing, the crew pursues an existence quite apart from the passengers. They tend to suffer the worst conditions on the ship. Noise, grease and darkness are typical features of their daily life. Pay is low, as crews are often acquired from developing countries. Generally, they do not enjoy the same privileges as staff members.