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. So today I thought I would sit back, relax and tell you a little about the crew accommodation or cabin space in this episode. I want to let you all know about the advantages, the disadvantages, everything there is to know about crew cabins. Excuse any of the unwelcomed sound, we’re sitting in a beautiful port somewhere obviously. The ship takes us to amazing places, so I decided just to get out, take my microphone, sit somewhere and just talk to you a little bit about the cabins and accommodations.
So let’s start off with the standard cabin, because you get a standard crew cabin and you get an officer cabin. Some ships you get a cabin which is four people sharing, which is crazy. It’s like a bottom bunk, top bunk on both sides, four people. Now imagine four people, one bathroom they’re sharing, all of them have suitcases and it’s just so small. It’s like a little sardine box, it’s terrible. So I hope none of you have to ever endure in that, because that’s just pure sacrifice for what it is. Not many of those cabins are out there. Nowadays they have two maximum, two and single cabins. A basic cabin will for example have a TV, normally nowadays they have these Tv’s you can put the USB in, DVD player. Some ships have interactive TV for the guests, and they actually allow it now for crew. So crew on some ships can actually go through the ITV system and pick movies when they want, and watch when they like, and stop it when they want. It’s very nice actually, because on ships the movies are always on repeat for the crew, so you can come in and check a movie half way, and come back in again in and out at the same place, and you keep missing it, because they’re always on loop. So that’s a good thing. Some companies they give you clocks, digital clocks in there. I wonder why, so you can wake, they’re trying to tell you something.
And if you’re claustrophobic, I wouldn’t suggest working on a cruise ship because you know the cabin is just a little square, it’s a bit crazy. If you have a port hole, it’s great, because you get a little bit of sun in there, you can feel a little bit like a human being. But if you don’t, in most cases, it’s dark when you sleep. So let’s talk about the darkness. It’s so different on a ship when it comes to the darkness compared to when you’re at home and you close your curtains and you sleep. On the ship it’s so dark that when you sleep, the dreams that come into your mind are crazy. I’ve had some crazy dreams at sea, I don’t know why, maybe it’s because of the air, the circulation, I don’t know what it is. It’s so dark, most of the times you wake up, you don’t know what time it is, what day it is, where you are. Sometimes you can wake up at three in the afternoon and think it’s midnight. Sometimes you wake up and you just don’t know what’s going on, because it’s so dark and has the same feel all the time. It never changes in your cabin, it’s like a consistent feeling of that when the lights are off it’s that consistent darkness. There’s no light in there, there’s no air in there. It’s tough, but you get used to it. It’s just the way it is; it depends the way you are. If you have a port hole, that’s great. You can open it in the mornings. On bad weather or rough sea days, they normally close it, because it’s dangerous and you have to get permission to open and close those on those days.
The double cabins, the normal cabins where you have two people sharing. You get two beds, most of the cases it’s a bunk bed, one at the bottom and one at the top. So when you sign on you just hope you’re the first person in that cabin, because if you’re not, you’re for sure on the top, because the person who is there before you is going to go to the bottom and stay there. And if the person on the bottom signs off and you’re on the top, when he signs off you can take the bottom and the person who comes on will take the top. So that’s normally the case. For example I was for the one company, I’m supposed to not share, I’m a single cabin but with this one company because the ship is so small, they didn’t have enough cabin space, I had to share. So when I got there I was on the top, and man when you need to go to the toilet during the night, you need to climb down these steps, this little ladder. And go to the toilet, and climb back up this ladder and go to bed. And if you need to go two or three times a night, it’s hectic. So eventually I moved cabins, and when I went to the next cabin, I was on the top, but the guy on the bottom left, and when he left I took the bottom. And it’s ok because the bottom you just get up and go straight to the toilet. I mean it’s not a far walk, you take two steps and you’re in the toilet, it’s so small the cabin. So that’s the benefit of being at the bottom. Everybody always wants to be at the bottom, some people want the top, and if you’re on the top, remember, the cabins are all made of metal, it’s metal walls. So when you’re on the top you can use magnets to put your phone on there or your pictures, it’s all magnetic so you can see crew member stick their photos up and use magnets to hold up their photos, they use magnets to do all kinds of things, because it’s all magnetic. If you have a single cabin, you get a cabin steward, a crew member who comes and cleans your cabin every day, gives you new towels, cleans your garbage, does your bed, changes your linen once or twice a week, checks if you need anything, takes your laundry, brings your laundry. So you’re kind of spoiled. When you don’t have a single cabin and you’re not an officer crew member, you’ve got to do that all yourself. You’ve got to clean your cabin, you’ve got to do that all yourself, you’ve got to do your own laundry, hand it in, collect it, you’ve got to find your own towels, all that kind of stuff.
Cabin inspections is a bit of an issue, because you’ve got to make sure your cabin is clean and spotless before that inspection, because they come the next day, let’s say 10:00 or 10:15, whatever time they decide, they knock on your door. Some companies you’re not allowed to be in the cabin when they come. And they go in with about 2 or 3 people with a clip board and a check list and they check all the things, the lights, the doors, the floors, your cabin how clean it is, if there’s food in the fridge, because you’re not allowed certain foods in the fridge. They check everything. People aren’t allowed to have mixes and stoves, all these kind of kettles, it’s just not allowed. So if they find these things, you’ll get in trouble. But a lot of the time, most of the crew members hide them in their cupboards until cabin inspection is over. A lot of people do so many crazy things, I can tell you so many stories. I know crew members had mixers and blenders, so they put them in their cupboards before cabin inspection so they get searched and when they’re finished they take them out. You know you’re not allowed fruit in your cabin but people do it, so before inspection people hide their fruit in their draws. Or they’re not allowed yogurts in their fridge because it can go off, so they hide it until after inspection is done, and then they bring it out when they’re gone. So there’s always these kind of things going on.
And also because the walls are so thin, sometimes you know you have people next door, your cabin mates, your neighbours, they make noise, you can’t sleep at night, depending on your shift, it can vary so if these things happen there’s always a number to call, you can always call security. Security comes in, knocks on the next door neighbours, tells them to keep it down. And if people are having sex, there’s nothing you can do, you can complain, but the walls are so thin you can hear all of it. You can hear people having sex on the left, you can hear people having sex on the right, the walls are just too thin. You can even hear sometimes their TV and what they’re watching. Even when they talk sometimes, you can hear their conversations. It’s just how it is at sea.
In the fridge you’re on allowed certain items, as I said. So you’ve got to make sure those aren’t around. But if you do, you just make sure you don’t get caught, because a lot of the people on board, they’ve got connections with the galley staff and they bring prawns into their cabin and rice. There’s so many things that happen.
So another thing is, nowadays these cabins have key cards, you’ve got a key card for your door. You know you enter your key card and the door opens and the light will flash. And sometimes you put the key card in and the light flashes a certain colour which means the battery is dying and you can’t get in. then you have to call for help. Sometimes your card gets magnetized, so you have to get a new card. So if you put your magnet next to your card, it will get magnetized and you can’t get in your cabin. So if you want to do that to a friend, you can do that but don’t get caught. Then you’ll have to go get your card re-digitized. And then you can go back into your cabin.
They have a sprinkler in every single cabin. These sprinklers are not for hangars. Some of the crew members put their hangars on there to hang their clothes. They use it to hang things, and if you break that little sprinkler you are definitely going to get a warning or get sent home, because a lot of companies don’t approve of that kind of stuff in the cabins. They also have smoke detectors, because smoking is not allowed in cabins. I’ve experienced people smoking in their cabins, putting socks over the smoke detectors, trying to find a way to smoke in their cabin. Some people go in their bathroom, in the toilet and they smoke and blow in the little extractor fan. Which is the best way to do it, because it’s extracting the smoke. If you have a cabin mate who doesn’t smoke, it’s very difficult, because they’ll smell the smoke, you’ll just have to go to the outer deck or where ever the smoking area is. If you do have a cabin mate who smokes, some companies they don’t allow it, smoking in the cabins. If you do want to smoke, in the bathroom, that little extractor fan, just go to the smoking areas. Some people just don’t like it.
Cabin parties, there’s a lot of that going around, people 6 to 10 to 12 people in one small cabin, loud music, people drinking, partying. If it gets too late, and people complain, you’ll get a knock at the door. Hello security, open up. Security will open up and you’ll either hide, some of you will hide, like I did once, tried to hide. They’ll come in and take all your names, and the next day you’ll get reported, you’ll get a warning and get in trouble if you don’t listen. Sometimes they’ll let you off, sometimes they don’t. it all depends you know. But if you have a cabin party, let the people know next door and around you, maybe they’ll join you, and then nobody will complain. And if you really want to enjoy it, try not have it so loud, if you want to keep it going longer. It all depends, just use common sense, don’t get yourself in trouble, because if you really like your job and the money you’re getting paid, you don’t want to the lose the job. But it doesn’t mean you can’t stop having fun, just use your common sense.
Partners, with sex partners, whatever you want to do, it’s allowed, it’s good to have. It all depends with your cabin mate, you can’t just come in there and start closing your little curtain and start with your cabin mate right there trying to read a book. You’ve got to let him know you’ve got a girl coming over, it’s common sense. Or you can, maybe your cabin mate won’t complain about that or maybe he’ll be a pervert. It’s just I’ve always had a single cabin so I’ve had the easy way. I’d usually have a girl, she’d come over and we’d have our privacy. But when you’re sharing it’s not that easy. Some friends of mine, use to tell his friend he’s having a girl over and he would leave the cabin and he would put a sock on his door, and if his friend came back and the sock wasn’t there he knew he could come back in. you know, you’d come to an agreement with your cabin mate or something like this. It’s nice to have a partner, and it’s not nice to have a partner and not be able to do anything with your partner, because of your cabin mate so try to find a way to accommodate each other, and then it will be easier for you guys to get through.
What else can I tell you about the cabins? They are small. The big cabins they are for doctors, hotel directors, captains. Their cabins are like, wow you walk in there, there’s a lounge, there’s a bedroom. It’s so big, their beds are huge, double, triple size beds. In the single cabins, it’s a single bed but with a little extension. It’s just less of a double bed. And the captain, they have double beds, they have desks, they have furniture, they have couches, big fridges, big TV’s, they have everything. And their life is so easy but we don’t know what they went through to get there. So every bodies got a journey that they had to get through to get where they were.
So it’s not that easy to live with people. I had an experience where I had moved in to this cabin mate friend of mine. And the first night I started to sleep and he had a sleeping disorder called Apnea. Go on the internet and look at what it is. It’s so bad. They try to sleep and they choke themselves with their tongue, and you think they’re dead, and they’re not breathing for 10 seconds, and all of a sudden their air all comes back and they’re like they just came back to life. And I’m like what the hell, and this guy is bad, and when he drank it was even worse. I couldn’t keep up, in just couldn’t do it anymore so I complained and said I need to move cabins and eventually I moved cabins. Then I moved cabins to another person for example, and this guy was okay but he became rude and obnoxious, and we didn’t talk so you know, and we’d walk into the cabin and he did his thing and I did my thing. It was very quiet and we don’t talk ever. You know it’s not a lifestyle, it’s not a way to live. So I tell you when you get into your cabin, introduce yourself, become friends with your cabin mate, try to help each other out. Work with each other to enjoy your contract. I mean if you listen to some of my interviews some of the guys, the one guy the one I interviewed from Guana, West Indies. He never had a problem for 5 years because he made sure he would work with his cabin mate to get things, so you both had some sort of an agreement. You don’t want to get to a cabin and struggle and suffer because you guys don’t get along. Obviously you can go human resources and request to change cabin. But it’s not like I want to request and they just change it, it takes time, and remember you’ve unpacked and you’ve been unpacked for how long, you got to repack all of your stuff, get all your stuff ready and on embarkation day, early you’ve got to get your stuff out of there, go into the other cabin. You know I’ve done this 3 times in a few months, and it’s not nice. The first time, sometimes you can leave in your luggage, because you know you’re moving so you can just leave in your luggage, and you don’t want to unpack, because you’re going to have to pack and unpack again. But it all depends on how you work through it. Officer cabins are nice, some of them have port holes, it’s so nice to have the sun come into your cabin at least. You feel a little bit like alive, and you can look outside and see where you are, and what’s going on. But man, with no hole, with no port hole, it’s crazy I must tell you. But it’s ship life man. You either love, you hate it.so I think that’s about it that I can tell you about cabins, I don’t think there’s anything else I can tell you that would help you out. But if you have any questions you can just send me an email if you want to ask anything about cabins or accommodation, and I can assist. I’m sure maybe I left out a few things but if I do, I’ll put it in the show notes. But let me know. This was just a short quick podcast about a few little pointers in accommodation and cabin areas. So thank you for being a part of my show guys, just remember I’m always here to help and assist. Email me about anything, and the podcasts are doing very well. We have a lot of them out, if you want to hear about your certain position go for it. There’s a few of them there at firstname.lastname@example.org, go to the podcast section and have a look. If you don’t see your job description in there by some chance, we’re still growing, so email me, send me an email about what you would like and I will try to get somebody and interview them on that position so you can better the life at sea. And that’s it, thank you and have a good day or evening, wherever you are, and ciao, god bless.