Have you ever wondered what life would be like if you went sailing around the world on a ship taller than most buildings in St. Lucia? Plus with the tales of good pay, living the good life and meeting new people, surely it must be a dream….. right?
Well my FITC, 29 year old Tricia Faucher tells us exactly what that life is like as she has been living it for the past two years aboard the Celebrity Cruise Lines.
The hotel administrator says this job is the one for her as she is living her dream of travelling to every point of the globe and seeing all the sights that she saw as a child only on television.
The social butterfly who is extremely keen on life and loves every aspect of it says she is just one of a growing number of locals who has made the decision to set sail in search of a means of employment which is increasing in popularity over the years.
Hailing from Choiseul, Faucher says she is very family oriented and a loyal friend tells but adds that while what she does is not easy and comes with many sacrifices, the perks by far outweigh the cons.
The VOICE: What does your job entail and what is life like on the high seas?
Tricia: On the cruise ship, I work with Human Resources and Hotel Operations which includes Food and Beverages, House Keeping and Guest Relations. I report directly to the Hotel Director so I assist him in every aspect of his administrative duties. This includes the running of operations of the hotel on the ship daily. When I say daily, I mean seven days a week, Sunday to Saturday. I’ve been working on the cruise ships for two years now and I am presently stationed on the ”Eclipse”. We have 10 ships in the Celebrity Cruise line and I’ve worked on three of them. We go to every part of the world on this ship.
The VOICE: Is this a good place to earn money? What’s the salary like?
Tricia: The money is great. The money I make here can be the same salary that I make with my BA in Business Management and Minor in Hospitality except on the ship, maybe it’s a little bit more. The one big and great difference is that you don’t have expenses on the ship and you can save. Money making and saving is the ideal reason for doing this job.
The VOICE: I’ve heard that working on a cruise ship is extremely competitive. Is that true and if yes, how so?
Tricia: The competition is real especially if you’re in a position where there is room for promotion. To get ahead of the game, you have to be nice politically, and let’s just say that you need to know how to kiss butts. Anyone can get to the point of being promoted and to no longer be on the line staff. You can get there but you just need to be and work smart. You need to build the right connections. The only people who can be your “good friends” are your managers, you have to smile with them because they are the ones who can push you up. I haven’t come across any attempts to be stabbed in the back because my position is the only one of that nature on board but with food and beverage, like the waiters and bar servers who are trying to step up, yes there is serious competition. Many of them want to become the senior bar server, assistant bar manager etc.
The VOICE: Another rumour that I’ve heard is that staff on the cruise ships are infamous for having romances and relationships with fellow crew members regardless of them being in steady relationships with people on land. Is there truth to this?
Tricia: (Bursts out laughing loudly) Among staff, the cruise ship is probably the ideal place to meet your potential long term partners. There might be cultural differences but you’re with that person 24/7…you know that person in and out. You might not necessarily be in the same department as that person but then you’re in the same environment so you understand each other. It’s a challenging atmosphere but you have each other. I have many friends who found their partners and spouses on the ships. On the other hand however, to be safe, let’s just say that whatever happens on the ship, stays on the ship…it’s an unwritten code that everyone abides by and you might actually land me in hot water by asking me that question. We don’t speak about what happens on the ship ever.
The VOICE: Okay, I got you…moving on swiftly. What is it like dealing with the guests seven days a week?
Tricia: I work in the back office but I deal with guests on a daily basis but only for basic enquiries. The guests on board expect something very different. They come on board (and currently, most of our guests are seniors) and they expect to be pampered…nothing can and should go wrong. Their water needs to be at the right temperature that they ask for as well as their food. Complaints are out of the ordinary and I tend to laugh because I wonder why someone would ask such questions but in their world, the questions are justified and legitimate. They paid money to be on the ship and it’s part of their vacation. For some people, cruising is a huge and it’s world renowned as the most prestigious vacation that one could have so they’re expecting the world. I met a guest one time and she said that she had been saving for nearly 20 years just to go on a cruise with her sister and just before her cruise, she got into an accident so she had to postpone it. She didn’t know whether she would be able to go or not and then five years later, she was finally able to fly out and came out…these are the guests that deserve 100% of a great service because they expect so much more. That’s like a peak in their lives that they waited on for so long. You just have to give your best. In everything that we do, the guests come first. If your manager asks you to do something and a guest asks for something else, you have to drop what you are doing for your manager and attend to the guest’s needs.
The VOICE: What about cases of unruly guests, are those common?
Tricia: We have guest behaviour meetings for unruly guests. We have had drunken guests who tried to attack each other or staff and so a meeting would be held with the executive team which consists of the chief engineer, the hotel director, the HR manager the captain who is the master/senior authority of the vessel. These people could dismiss the guests and end their journey just like that with no refund.
The VOICE: You mentioned a few rules, how strict are the rules of the ship as well as the enforcement of them?
Tricia: In the real world, you show up for work late and you can get away with it by saying that you were stuck in traffic. On the ship, there’s no excuse for being late. Where can you get stuck with your room only seconds away from the office in my case? I cannot show up to work and say I was stuck somewhere or that I didn’t have breakfast…there’s a time for breakfast, in fact, we have two hours for breakfast, There are really no excuses. Being ill is no excuse either because if you do feel ill, you have to go to the medical facility. The doctor is the only person who can confirm that you are ill and he will inform your supervisor that you are unable to work.
The VOICE: we spoke about the rules of the ship but what about the laws? How are those enforced?
Tricia: We have maritime laws and it’s a published manual with policies that we undergo and there are other outside communities overseeing those laws. We have two departments, the Marine Department and the Hotel Department. The marine department, oversees every aspect of the ship. Being on the ship is nice and whatever you see around, that’s the hotel department but the biggest department which is the backbone of the ship and what makes the vacation is the marine department. Without the engine and environmental laws, nothing would go on. We have these laws for example, you can’t throw anything overboard. The minute you do that, you can be held liable and you can go to prison. You can’t smoke any and everywhere, we have designated smoking areas. For the cabin, smoking is strictly prohibited and you will be sent home immediately. These are not just laws that govern the running of operations, they are there to protect the cruise ships. Something that you might consider to be petty is huge on the ship in terms of laws and you will be fired. Like just recently in Miami, one ship was set back by four hours before sailing because a crew member was being searched at the gangway which is where you enter the ship. He got frustrated whilst being searched and said: “What, do you think that I have a bomb on me or something?” He was arrested and to this day he’s still going up and down to court. These little things are put in place so that the danger or violence levels don’t exceed the point where it can be controlled.
The VOICE: What would you say to anyone interested in doing what you do?
Tricia: I would say go for it! It’s the most exciting job. You get to travel the world. From a young age, I always wanted to travel and although I never knew that I’d end up on a cruise ship but it happened and it’s a dream. The one bad thing is that life can pass you by because so much will change whilst you’re away including friendships and family but once you sort that out, I’d advise anybody to do it.