Intro: Welcome to Crew: Life at sea podcast. Here we will share the skills you need to make your experience and adventure out at sea a success, hear inspiring stories from experienced crew, from all diversities, gain knowledge and know your rights. Be Part of the crew life at sea, and let’s welcome your host, Raymond Crystal.
Ray: Hello and welcome to crew life at sea. The only place where you can find useful information, advice, insights and resources to help inspire you to take that next step in working on a cruise ship. Today I have with me, the one and the only, Sasu, what’s Sasu? We all want to know. She’s a casino dealer, a very beautiful girl, but very evil when it comes to money, they want to take it all away from you. How are you Nicoleta?
Nicoleta: I’m very good, I like your introduction.
Ray: So can you tell us how many years have you been at sea first of all?
Nicoleta: 8 years.
Ray: So can you tell me a little bit about how you got to this position in your life, and your journey?
Nicoleta: Okay, first I must mention, I started to work 15 years ago as a dealer in a casino back in Romania. I was applying for a job back in Romania, I got this job in a casino, I found it very interesting. I had no clue what a casino was. I heard from my friends that it was a good job, and at night you have plenty of time off.
Ray: So did you look at a newspaper?
Nicoleta: No, I had some friends who had friends who worked in the casino, and they heard from them that it’s a good job.
Ray: So then you came out to sea and started working as a casino dealer?
Ray: Can you tell us about the duties involved in being a casino dealer?
Nicoleta: Duties? It’s easy, we have the easiest duties on board. We don’t work so hard I would say. My main duty is to deal with the cards or spin the wheel.
Ray: And take every body’s money?
Nicoleta: Not really, we give them some to make them happy.
Ray: Of course, give a little, take a lot. What made you decide that you were going to stay at sea?
Nicoleta: Before I came on, I heard from most of the casino people that had worked on the ships, that it’s a lot of fun plus you are travelling while you get paid. So I said “why not?”, it’s going to be a good opportunity to travel the world.
Ray: Yes, that’s 100% right. You get paid, you see the world, you get food for free, you sleep in a bed, and it’s just sweet sailing. Can you tell me, when you go to work is there some sort of uniforms or something that you have to wear?
Nicoleta: Yes, each individual casino has its own uniforms. It’s required by the casino.
Ray: Your company for the casino isn’t actually part of the cruise line, it’s a separate company?
Ray: So anybody who wants to work on a cruise ship as a casino host or dealer or manager, they have to go through some other agency, not the cruise line?
Nicoleta: Yes, not the cruise line. There are a few agencies in this world, depending on what country you are in, and they hire people.
Ray: Ok good, because some of them I suspect it’s the cruise line but it’s actually not. It’s you guys, the spa, that are different and not actually from the cruise line, and the boutique. So when you are at your desk, dealing cards, and you have some unhappy guests, how do you deal and handle that situation?
Nicoleta: It’s hard because are the biggest priority on board. We try to keep them happy, and if they’re not happy, that’s another story, because you have to try to make them happy somehow. For me I believe it’s easy because I’m very friendly.
Ray: Okay let’s give you an example, I lose, I’m getting aggravated, I put in a big amount, I’ve had enough, I look at you, this is it, I’m going to get it, and I lose again and start swearing, I want the manager.
Nicoleta: I don’t know, it’s hard. It’s never happened to me. I could see they were angry, but I just make jokes and they start to laugh.
Ray: So the trick is to change their minds to stop thinking about the losing part.
Nicoleta: And for everyone who is listening to this message, this job at sea, particularly the casino, is not the same as a job on the land. I can say the job on land is a business, here it’s entertainment. It’s definitely different.
Ray: So if you wanted to get a promotion or progress in this field, what would you do?
Nicoleta: It depends on the company. You have a dealer, dealer 3, dealer 4, supervisor, assistant manager, and manager. And some companies have only the dealers and the managers.
Ray: Okay, so do the promotions come from the ship or shoreside?
Nicoleta: They into consideration a lot from the ship and the management to get a promotion. It’s the manager who is with you and knows how you work; the shore side just hears that you are good.
Ray: Do you handle cash onboard? And how do you keep it safe?
Nicoleta: Casinos are the only place on the ship that they are working with cash. We have a proper safe where we lock our cash. Everything is locked at the end of the day, it’s all secured like other casinos, like a bank for example.
Ray: So there must be some sort of procedure when it comes to paperwork, data capturing, how does that work?
Nicoleta: As a dealer, you are not involved in those sort of things. As a cashier, which we are doing as a duty as well, yes you take care of some paper work, but most of the paper work is done by the manager.
Ray: Some days must be hard, you must smile and be happy, so what happens if you’re not happy, and you’re sad and having a bad day and have to go see these people, how do you do it?
Nicoleta: You have to just keep smiling. If you’re upset, who is going to solve your problems? You must just enjoy every single day of your life, it doesn’t matter if you work on the ship or if you work on the land or in the air on an aeroplane, you must be happy.
Ray: What parts of your job do you find the most challenging?
Nicoleta: I don’t know, everything you do is a challenge, but after a while becomes automatic.
Ray: So tell me about yours and how you schedule your day? So they know how it works so they know what a good life you have.
Nicoleta: Are you sure you want to know about this? As per maritime law, the casino is only allowed to be opened after we leave the port after departure, so if we stay overnight then good for us, a day off. We open the casino for about half an hour or 1 hour, it depends on the port of course.
Ray: So if you’re in port 20:00 until 22:00, you’re only going to open at 22:30 right?
Ray: Some cruise ships, you have ports every single day, so sometimes you don’t work every single day, only in the evening a couple of hours. So living on board out at sea can be kind of tough, how are your accommodation space and your benefits?
Nicoleta: As a dealer, you don’t have so many benefits, except eating in the officers’ mess, which is the nicest for the crew. Accommodation, from ship to ship it’s different, it’s a sharing cabin, only the officers have a single cabin.
Ray: The food in the officers’ mess, does it make a difference?
Nicoleta: The food no, but the people make the difference.
Ray: Some ships it does differ, but some ships you have a table and cutlery set up for you, you get a waiter, but in the crew mess it’s dished up, sit down and eat. So knowing what you know now, if you could change one thing in your career, what would it be? and why?
Nicoleta: In my career, I wouldn’t change anything.
Ray: Because you’re a happy chappy. Imagine your toughest day at sea, now tell me how it was? And how you got through it?
Nicoleta: As I mentioned it’s the people you’re working with and interacting with, sometimes you meet nice people, sometimes you meet bad people. It happened to me once during my contract, I had very bad colleagues and the management wouldn’t help u at all, and again I’m a very happy person, I try to not be influenced by this, but at the end of the day you go to your bed and cry and tell yourself it’s going to be different.
Ray: So if you have any sort of feedback for people out there who would like to work on a cruise ship, what would you tell them?
Nicoleta: It’s fun, you can see the world, I’ve seen most of the world. I’ve never been to Africa, and also on the list is Japan and China.
Ray: This is the big question I ask everybody; tell me the most shocking thing you have ever encountered or seen in your career at sea?
Nicoleta: A ghost.
Ray: Ah mamma mia, another ghost story, please tell me your ghost story.
Nicoleta: It happened on my very first contract, I could hear something. I was going to smoke, somewhere on the open deck, 3 decks up from my cabin. I could hear something; after that, I could hear the footsteps. I was a little bit afraid so I was ready to go back to my room, then I heard the footsteps behind me, I stopped and thought maybe it was just someone, you know to greet, hell how are you? But no those steps kept going down so I just ran to my cabin. I spoke to my colleagues and they said you work on a ship, it’s normal.
Ray: Did it happen again?
Nicoleta: Yes, it happened again, a couple of contacts later on another cruise.
Ray: When did it happen? Where were you going and what were you doing?
Nicoleta: in the night, again the same thing, I was going on the open deck.
Ray: To do what?
Nicoleta: You like to hear that, smoke!
Ray: Smoke, oh okay.
Nicoleta: So I was going to the open deck, and on the way we were passing through the passengers’ corridor and they have those cabinets for the fire extinguishers and I could see 3 of them until the end of the corridor and 3 of them fully opened, which is strange and they are checked by the fire patrol so they are supposed to be closed. So I kept going, I tried to close them.
When I reached the crew area, on that open deck there was a pool, a place for the sun beds, there were 2 restrooms for male and female, the toilet paper was all over the floor and I said what’s this? It was strange, then I reached the open deck and I could hear a strange noise and I said I think I should run now, so I went back through the same corridor and saw something very fast move and I said okay those things exist. So I talked to one of my colleagues, and he said he can feel the things but can’t see them and can’t sleep.
Ray: So let me ask you, you’ve been at sea for 8 years, why do you keep coming back?
Nicoleta: I told you I must go to all these places, I really like this job. For example, this moment when we do this interview, back home it’s winter. And the most important, you meet so many nationalities, especially your colleagues, maybe you learn something maybe you teach them something.
Ray: Okay so I think that’s it, I think that’s a wrap, thank you so much for being part of this wonderful show and for your ghost story, thank you so much Nicoleta, ciao.