How I started working on cruise ships

How did you start working on cruise ships? You travel the world and get paid for it? And thus, this post!

How many times have I been asked these questions? The look in people’s eyes when they ask me, the curiosity to know how does it even work? Before answering I actually smile. Yes, these questions they actually make me happy and are a constant reminder of how lucky I am, how glad I am for choosing this life of WORKING ON CRUISE SHIPS.

The beginning
It was a sunny afternoon where I was assisting a senior photographer TINA DEHAL of www.tinadehal.com on her shoot for a fashion label bringing out their catalogue for the summer season. As we sat down for a little break looking through the shots we got into a conversation about me. Little did I know about the journey that would follow?

TRAVEL IS THE GOAL, REST FOLLOWS! This is what I breathe every day. And there it was her suggestion “try cruise ships. You will get to see the world and experience a lot”. I haven’t looked back since.
It has been 5 years (though there have been thoughts about one more and the move on to something else) and the journey keeps getting richer. Before taking this step to cruise the various oceans I dabbled into quite a many fields; features writer, photographer, copywriter, event organizer and host, sales associate and dancing and parading at events. It has all paid to where I am and what I do with utmost love.

So, in 2011 I went through a series of portfolio showcasing and interviews and got my first gig on board this massive cursing industry as a photographer. With a pounding heart and a knotted stomach I took my first flight to a world of endless possibilities. (I had never even sat in an air plane till then). My father jokes about it saying “first flight, and there she took the longest one”. 🙂  As I landed into Miami, I knew there was no stopping from there on. I worked as photographer for two years with two different companies. (I will be writing more about this on Life as a Photographer on board cruise ships). The two years went by beautifully with travels but my creativity hit a slack. Same procedures, same angles, same prints, same words, I wanted more. But was I ready to leave ships? The re sounding answer my mind always gave me was solid NO. I knew then it was time switch. But like always plunging into a new field or course of work is scary, the question was HOW?

There are so many departments on a cruise ship that job opportunities are bountiful. I was seeing this, living it; I just needed to figure out what. Right in front of me was a field I had already played in and had experience, the event and entertainment department. But how was I to break into a job where I would be the only of my kind? There was (and even now as I write this) no Indian woman in the entertainment department on board cruise ships. We are a bundle of over 60 nationalities on a cruise ship of any size, so the competition is high, how was I to forget this? What does a photographer know of hosting a game show in front of people that too, of different demographics? I come from a country of strong accent. Will Americans understand me? Will the British find me amusing? Let’s not reach that far, will my company find me suitable and apt for the role that none of my people have broken into?
None of these thoughts stopped me. I knew how to hold a microphone, I knew how to talk to people and make them laugh (sarcasm is my good friend). But there is the technical aspect to very job and that is what I had to master in order to score this position.
I do not want this post to turn into a chapter of a struggling novel, so I am going to brief this and get right to how it happened.

I met the Entertainment Director who luckily was cruising for a month on the same ship I was about to finish my contract as photographer. Nervously I met her and expressed my interest in making a switch. She didn’t say no, but asked me to show and prove that I was apt. Two months of relentless self training was what got me through? All my free time went into going to venues where CRUISE STAFF (the job title) hosted. Eight hours of sleep turned into four as I hid behind curtains watching the entertainers swing and salsa. Reciting scripts in front of the mirror helped me mold my accent to being diverse.

The day arrived and I auditioned. I was asked to go onto a stage, imagine there is 500 plus guests and open a show. I did it. I dressed absolutely wrong. The microphone in my hand almost dropped twice (I thank my reflexes). I did not even exit the stage the ‘right way’. Followed this small circus performance was the interview that lasted 45 minutes. I still remember biting my tongue between my teeth as words found a way to come out of my mouth. I described the job I had never done to two very experienced professionals in the same field. The following week I was due for vacation. Without any plans of relaxing I got onto my email the first day I got home. And there it was – “three months from now you will joining us as Cruise Staff”.
Sixth year in the running and I love every day no matter how much of a struggle it is! So, thank you to those who ask me how I do this and why I do this. Your questions are a constant reminder of what makes me happy.
Tina Dehal I thank you always.

TRAVEL INSPIRATION? – Fight your fears. Dream Big.