Building a unique skill set on cruise ships

Enjoying the St. Kitts railway

Did you know that people who work aboard cruise ships develop a very unique skill set and are faced a multitude of situations that actually benefit them when trying to apply for jobs on land? I am here tell you how crew members build and develop a unique skill set while working at sea.

Character Building on Cruise Ships:

To begin, before working on a cruise ship I didn’t exactly have the social graces that I have today. I wasn’t able to talk to anyone I met especially when I was meeting people from all over the world. Fast forward today and I can definitely tell you that its a very different story. Why? Because crew learn how to be adaptable, problem solvers, and outgoing while working on a cruise ship. It is our job to talk to guests and invite them to join our activities that we offer and make them feel welcome while they are on vacation. But I think I still have many moments off the ship where I despise having “small talk” with people I don’t even know.

I guess I have what you might call stranger danger. I don’t like it one bit. I really get exhausted having small talk with strangers. Unless I’m in a “mood” to chat and sort out the details of my day to be honest I really don’t bother. In fact, this happened to me the other day on the subway as I was on my way into Chinatown in NYC. A man about my age sits down next to me and sees my purple carry on. He asks me where I was coming from, what I was doing there, and how he just moved from Miami to NY (I just want to get to chinatown. I really don’t care about this conversation. Just get me there already). The conversation just got awkward fast so I occupied my fingers with my tablet looking at my map of how I could find my way to my hostel. Out in the real world I really don’t enjoy conversing with strangers. There is no need for me to have it. Back on the ship however it’s quite reversed.

Having an outgoing personality:

With more than 4,000 crew and guests in total on board my cruise ship you have to enjoy being in a small space and smiling and greeting guests. It comes so natural to me to have a flowing conversation and it’s very cool to get to know people from all corners of the globe. I have learned so much from where people call home from Samoa to Kuwait to Sweden to meeting a family from Saudi Arabia (mind you I have never met a person from Saudi before in my life so I got excited). I had already known quite a bit about life in Saudi for a woman so I had so many questions to ask this mom from SA. She was so impressed that I even was able to pronounce her capital correctly. You sharpen your conversation skills into becoming a natural in this kind of environment on board. Catch me off the ship and I find myself socially awkward!

One of the top skills you need to work on board is communicating effectively. You have to be able to get your point across immediately and over your own shyness quickly. Our ship represents over fifty nations and our spoken language on board is English. No matter where you come from you speak in all guest areas in English.

There is also no time and room for “dilly-dallying” on board. Problems need quick solutions. Solutions need answers. If something needs to be done, it’s done now, not tomorrow or the day after that. Guests pay a lot of money to cruise on modern luxury ships and customer service needs to be at tip-top shape to help and assist guests with their questions. Back on land we aren’t exposed to the same situations in our jobs that we face on the ship. I really believe that my speaking skills have greatly improved in the past year. In my workplace I give “open house” to parents and have to explain our program, hours of operations and so forth. I am speaking with parents and children from all over the world.

In conclusion:

Depending on what you do for work crew members sometimes have to speak in front of large groups of people (not one of my strengths) but I have improved very much since I started hosting youth talent shows and running my tender duties to guests as we arrive in our ports of call. That involves small talk (my favorite) and speaking on a microphone. Learning to speak effectively to other human beings is a life skill and I am in the process of mastering it!

Smile and be confident!