Work on a Cruise Ship
Editors Note: Micha Berman wrote Permanent Passenger, his engaging story about working on a cruise ship after graduating from college. Micha participated in the following online interview. If you are interested about cruise ship travel, read more of his interview at Life on a Cruise Ship.
Lets start with the cliché. Why did you write this book?
Well, it is a great question because when I was originally looking for jobs on cruise ships, I went to so many bookstores and could not find a book written by someone who had worked on a cruise ship. There were lots of book on how to take cruises and books on what to bring on a cruise, but not a behind the scenes memoir. Then when I got off the ship and told people that I had just worked on a cruise ship for a year, their eyes lit up and eventually I realized I had to write this book. Now that Permanent Passenger is out I can’t tell you how many people come up to me and tell me they were thinking about writing this kind of book but never did.
Who did you write this book for?
I thought originally it would be for people who were thinking about working on cruise ship and wanted to know the scoop to figure out if this was the kind of life they wanted. I am getting fantastic response also from crew who work on ships and believe I have captured that secret world that people never see. I also wanted to share my wacky and fanatical job search to share some of my passion for figuring out how to get your dream job. I am happy to say Permanent Passenger is now in many University careers centers.
What do you want the reader to get from reading the book?
I want the reader to be inspired to not take no for an answer. I pounded on a brick wall for months and months, always believed I was the right person to be an Assistant Cruise Director on a ship and look what happened to me.
You were pretty young and inexperienced. What surprised you the most about working on a cruise liner?
It’s funny I put so much energy into the job search that when I finally got the call from the Entertainment Director at Carnival Cruise Lines offering me the job, I was really nervous. I had not thought through all the basic questions, how would I bank my money, where would I do my laundry. I went on the ship pretty much only knowing what I learned from growing up on the Love Boat with Captain Stubin. The surprise was this whole world below the passenger decks, with dining halls for crew, crew bars, swimming pools. Also the way I was treated was quite different from most crewmembers. I had my own cabin and could roam freely around the ship, but as you went deeper into the ship, conditions got worse and I was surprised how tough life could be on a cruise ship for most crewmembers.
Some of your descriptions of live downstairs were fairly provocative. Were you concerned about a backlash from Carnival?
Truly, I really wrote a pretty upbeat book, there was much more I could have said about regulations being violated or unfair ways employees were treated, but I felt that would be a boring book. What I have described in Permanent Passenger is not much different from most cruise lines and most people in the industry recognize that. I have not heard anything negative and I always tease that I was afraid to write anything too provocative or Carnival, the billion dollar corporation that they are might send their secret police after me.
What advice would you give some one who wants a job with a cruise company?
First, read my book because this will give you a real look at life working on a cruise ship and help you understand what is like and whether you are willing to make the sacrifice. Second, study the industry and talk to people who have worked on cruise ships. When I was looking for my job I did it the hard way, subscribing to every cruise magazine and going to Miami to research, however nowadays there are great websites where you can talk to people who are actually working on cruise ships. Finally, I would say go for it with everything you have, it is not an easy industry to break into but with persistence and some craziness you can get the dream job.
Are there any jobs on a cruise ship for retired seniors?
It is important to recognize that there will be 42 new ships in the next 5 years and that the industry is booming. More and more people taking cruises and many of the cruise lines are becoming more luxurious and going after a wealthier client. There are host jobs for older men where they go on a cruise and serve as a partner for single older women on the ship. They dance, dine and keep the women company. Also, more and more cruise ships are hiring lecturers or experts on certain subjects to come aboard and give presentations, so with life experience there are more opportunities. Also with more demand for workers who will commit and have a sense of stability, cruise lines are open to hiring older people in entertainment positions or hospitality jobs aboard. An older gentleman recently approached me at a book talk and said he was an auctioneer and wanted to know if he could work on a cruise ship, and the answer is a definite yes.