My third exploration of these Instagram collages is providing some great perspective on our time in India. Instagram images feel like highlights of daily joys, and usually a sum-up post of images from a place is a showcase of your best and most influential moments. Making a little visual quilt of the daily joys seems to weave the kind of fabric that makes sense to my mind and likely memorializes a place akin to how I will mentally.Read More
This post was written on my October 2009 cruise of the Mexican Riviera. Lying on my stomach, covered in towels, face pushed through a terry cloth doughnut, I asked the woman rubbing hot stones on my calves what it's like to work on a cruise ship. After swapping stories from the high seas and travels on land, I decided a job on a cruise liner wouldn't be half bad, and she affirmed I was made for it.
One of the things I like most about being aboard a water vessel is the crew and the overall sense that they love the world and its people. Why else subject yourself to constant movement and Titanic-like nightmares? Because you can't get enough of a nomadic existence.
Nomadderwhere is about provoking the thoughts of its readers, compelling them to explore the world, and be open to the pull of their own passions. Since I don't enjoy hearing about wanderlusters who can't afford to travel but pine to see the world, I like to present information that gives them to ticket to satiate their global desires.
I nearly asked for an application on my last cruise, wishing I could be among those who experience a port sunrise every other day. Sitting in my cabin with a pad of paper, I scribbled some questions I had about the lifestyle and went looking for the answers when I got home.
FAQs about Cruise Employment
Q: Where would I begin if I have varied interests and skills spanning entertainment and performance as well as travel logistics, planning and even service?
A: You'd have a very difficult choice to make. Here are the following cruise ship jobs:
* Deck Department * Casino Staff * Cruise Directors * Cruise Staff * Disc Jockeys * Entertainers * Expedition Leaders * Gentleman Host * Hosts and Hostesses * Lecturers * Naturalists * Production Managers * Shore Excursion Managers * Shore Excursion Staff * Water * Sports Instructors * Lifeguards * Youth Counselors * Beauticians * Cosmetologist * Massage Therapists * Fitness Directors * Fitness Instructors * Medical Staff * Personal Trainers * Air/Sea Reservation Agents * Bar Stewards * Bartenders * Bedroom Stewards * Gift Shop Positions * Hospitality or Hotel Managers * Photographers * Deckhands * Junior Assistant Pursers * Pursers * IT Staff * Dance Instructors * Administration Assistants * Booking Agents * Customer Service Representatives * Sales and Marketing Positions
It'd probably make a lot of sense to look at, first, the job you love the most, and second, the job that has the best hours, wage, and benefits. Jobs are split into departments, and pay scale is also determined by tipping and non-tipping personnel.
Q: What is involved in the interview process?
A: Before you apply for a cruise line job, think about what kind of job you would like to have and what the real chances of getting it are. The chances of getting hired depend a lot upon when you apply, your qualifications, and current openings. Apply for a specific job. Don't just send an application for "any position available". See the descriptions of various job positions.
Write a resume (curriculum vitae), and send it with a cover letter to a recruitment agent or a cruise line company. The best course of action is to apply to the various cruise companies of your choice. Highlight the most important points in the covering letter, briefly stating what makes you a great candidate for the position. You will be given/sent application forms if the recruitment agent or personnel department of the cruise line company assess your resume positively. Read the forms carefully. Fill them in, express yourself concisely and clearly. Attach the resume and the covering letter with the form, even if you have sent the resume earlier.
If the cruise lines are looking for a person with your qualities, education and experience, you will be invited for an interview. The interviewer will try to find out about your experience, abilities, education and motivation for the job. Do your research and try to find out as much information about the cruise lines as possible. Search the Internet and have a look in the library. Perhaps you will be asked about the cruise company at the interview. When being interviewed, it's important to share any pending commitment information.
If you are successful, you will get a "Letter of Employment" a few weeks after the interview. The letter of employment includes information about the cruise ship, the date and place of embarkation, your job position, and other instructions. You will need to go for a medical examination and get the internationally recognized medical certificate.
Q: What is the average duration of a USA resident contract, and are they expected to complete a certain amount of consecutive contracts (allowing for breaks in between)?
A: Assignments vary depending on the position and brand. It can be anywhere between four months to ten months. Although you work 7-days a week while on assignment, crew members get bulk time off upon completion of the assignment period. Each assignment concludes with a performance review. Based on the evaluation, you will be asked to return. In some cases, we can even provide a return assignment before you even leave the ship.
Most cruise line contracts typically require a four to six month commitment for new employees. Some cruise lines allow you to take a limited amount of vacation time during a contract and other do not. If this is important to you, it should be discussed prior to accepting the position.
If you decide that cruise life is not for you and break your contract you will have to pay for all costs to get yourself home. And, if you sign a contract for 6 months, you may prolong it to 10 months. Then, a compulsory break of 6-8 weeks follows.
Q: What amenities are covered in a contract? All food? Visas and insurance? Anything specific to cruise employees? Which costs are expected of the employees to be responsible for?
A: Many people who work on cruise ships save most of the money they earn because they have so few expenses. Your room and board is usually provided for free. Most companies also offer a generous benefits package that often includes: medical and dental insurance, life insurance, disability insurance, 401K plan, profit sharing plans, travel benefits for you and your family and vacation time, etc.
For most assignments, the cruise lines will provide full transportation from your home to the ship and back for the full assignment period. Valid passports are needed for all our new crew members. New hires that are not US citizens, US Permanent Residents, or Canadian will need to obtain a C1/D visa.
Although the room is small, you will have a comfy bed, a shared tv, personal closet space, and a full bathroom, including clean sheets and fresh towels. Laundry services are free. There is a common room where our employees can gather to play games, share experiences, and even to watch a movie. In some ships, we even have an Internet Cafe just for our crew.
Depending on the cruise line, some companies will pay for crew member's uniforms and some will require their crew members to purchase their own uniforms. Almost all of the cruise lines require their crew members to purchase their own shoes that are in accordance with uniform regulations. Make sure you determine what the company policy is on uniforms prior to accepting a position. There are shops onboard that our employees can shop from, at a discounted rate. And some of the best bargains can be found at some of the ports you'll visit. While you're onboard, the medical doctor onboard will provide you medical care, as free medical care is required by maritime law.
Another perk is that some of the cruise ships even have bar allowances for their staff, so this will limit your bar expense. Also, you get reduced price cruise vacation for family and friends
Q: What are some less obvious inconveniences of cruise employment or issues most employees must tackle regularly that differ from other jobs in tourism?
A: Norwegian Cruise Lines says its a seven day work week with 10+ combined hours per day. Employment on a cruise ship is definitely a full time position. However, due to the intensity of shipboard work & life, it is on an assignment basis. Yes, when you're not scheduled to work and off duty. We have a zero tolerance policy for certain positions and alcohol limitations, and no matter what, you are responsible for being on time for your shift and sober! Reporting to work under the influence or hung over is cause for immediate termination.
Space onboard is very limited, and any offer is for the employee only, not the whole family or pets. Guest facilities are for guests only. Employees are provided with employee only facilities. We have a well-equipped gym onboard for you to keep in shape! Not all ships have employee-only pools, but many itineraries incorporate beach destinations where you can relax with a swim.
There's not much privacy if you're a member of the crew. Quite often you'll have to share a room with at least one roommate or more. If you like to spread out, working on a cruise ship isn't the job for you. Speaking of sharing a room, quite often your roommate will be from another country, so there may be difficulties communicating. Other difficulties may arise if your work schedule is different from your roommates.
As stated previously, this isn't a 40-hour work week situation. Even though you'll have some time off, if the passengers can see you, you're liable to have to work. Also, some cruise lines will have employees work more than one job, so that will cut down on the amount of free time you have, as well.
Things are not as expected. Many new cruise ship employees think they'll have the same benefits as the passengers. This isn't the case. Unless the passengers are off the ship at a port of call, it's unlikely the crew can lounge by the pool. Food choices are also quite limited for the crew, regardless of what new employees might believe.
Q: How are voyages assigned to cruise employees? Are longer trips assigned based on seniority, or do assignments solely depend on need and availability?
A: Crew members are assigned to a position, not necessarily a ship. Although our preference is to bring back returning assignments on the same vessel, there's a chance that you'll be moved to where the role is needed. The ultimate final word is the Captain, Master of the vessel. There is a clear chain of command that should be followed in seeking advice, assistance, resolutions, etc.
Of course, being a cruise crew member isn't the only way to sail the high seas on a massive vessel.
Q: What are the living conditions like aboard a cruise ship at sea?
A: While it is true that accommodations are sometimes cramped, especially on smaller vessels, and you’ll be sharing your cabin with little or no privacy, most find the experience similar to their fist year in college dorm, but without the homework. Usually staff have their own dining room, away from the passengers and on days off, employees can hang out by the pool, sunbathe, or use the spa. Some ships provide extra amenities for employees, such as televisions for each room, a special crew bar and lounge, and special recreation lounges near the crew quarters. Employee gyms are also provided.
Q: The travel opportunities sound great, but what about people who are not comfortable being out at sea, especially for extended periods of time?
A: People who would rather stay on land can still take advantage of the lucrative travel industry for seasonal or year-round jobs. There are over 300 land tour companies in North America (and many more in Europe and throughout the world) that hire tour guides and managers. These companies provide guided tours to all corners of the globe, offering excursions such as scenic bus trips, river rafting adventures, and trolley car tours.
The Bottom Line
Cruises have a stigma of creating stuffy, unauthentic travel experiences for their unadventurous customers, but life at sea is thrilling, and those who are employed on these vessels are incredible people: eclectic, diverse, and entertaining. It offers free travel, the comforts of a home while still on "the road," and could help vagabonds save loads of money for future travels with very little costs of living. Few jobs in this world have "world traveler" in the title, but this one comes about as close as they get.
Was this post helpful to you? Are there any other jobs for world travelers you'd be interested in learning about or sharing? Contact me or comment below, and let's help the passionate find their dream jobs.
Q&A is a new series on Nomadderwhere that uses questions posed by readers and commentators to address topics of travel, alternative lifestyle design, blogging, and other interests. You can expect to see this series one or two Saturdays a month right here on Nomadderwhere.com. To send in your questions, contact me!
Hello, I would love to chat with you about my own plans since you are basically doing what I want to do.
I am leaving my job and selling my house in the spring, to travel the world and maybe never come back. I have so many questions though.
I figure I can get by on 10-15k a year on the road, but the question is: how do I go about making that? I have set up a travel blog and would love for that to generate some cash. I'm also a writer, and have published a photography/poetry book. I love writing and would like to do that for a living, while traveling the world. I'm also a pretty decent photographer.
Please give me any advice on how to make this happen. I'm a nice guy with nothing tying me down, and months away from dropping everything and seeing the world. -Sean R.
Hey Sean, I hope I can be of some assistance. Thanks for writing!
It's important to know travelers who move, think, and operate the same way you do, because getting advice from just anyone that moves could misdirect your preferred path. With that said, I know how to redirect your questions to other travelers who already do exactly what you want to do, because I can't quite relate to your travel dreams.
1. I don't have anything to leave behind. 2. I don't make money directly from my blog, writing, or photography.
Have you heard of Gary Arndt at Everything-Everywhere.com? He did what you are about to do (sold his house and traveled), and I'm sure you could learn quite a bit from his path. He's been on the road for over three years and has a huge following; however, I'm not positive whether he makes money from his blog.
Monetizing Your Blog
In order to make money from a travel blog, one has to look at their blog like a business and think:
To what end? What do I want to get out of my blog, and what valuable resource do I see it being or offering to readers?
Find your niche, and your niche market will follow, willing to pay for what you do. That's the long-term scenario. Keep in mind, however, that you don't have to have one absolutely specific focus. Your unique interests combined make for great content. And an additional note: don't claim a niche or expertise in one thing when you know you're not a real expert. The internet world doesn't need any more of those.
Get started by looking at Nomadic Matt's Secrets to Successful World Travel* ebook, as well as his Monetize Your Travel Blog ebook that has apparently been a big help for many people. I'm not so much interested in advertising as I am sponsorship and using my site as my resume and a resource for like-minded wanderlusters. I hope that gives you a better idea of what you want out of your travels and your blog.
Leaving It All Behind
AlmostFearless.com is yet another long-term traveler that started blogging after leaving her home and taking up a moving existence. I think her ebook entitled 30 Ways in 30 Days to Redesign your Life and Travel could help you out big time.
And a little hint: Subscribing to these bloggers RSS feeds and e-mails could score you these resources for free.
Getting Paid to Write and Photograph
What I've been doing is a little bit different.
I am not a long-term self-sustained traveler like those dudes and dudette - and presumably what you want to become. For leisure, I take shorter trips (though still around 1 to 7 months) and have very little money to my name (because I've spent it all on travel).
I'm a producer for a non-profit that makes virtual field trips for kids, but it's like business travel/film production. I don't get paid specifically for written pieces, though I'd love to and always keep my eye out for good opportunities.
Look into the Matador Network, because they pay $25 for articles.
My big thing isn't so much traveling but the expression of travel through multi-media, which could be what you're into as well. And it seems you're much more artistically minded than commercial - same as me, which means you probably like to work for your own agenda. That could either mean less marketability or more chance of you making a very distinct personal brand.
The Bottom Line
My advice is to check out the above links and see if any of those guys give you some inspiration toward your right path. Also, it wouldn't hurt to make out a little goal sheet or business plan that allows you to see where your blog could go in the future to make you some money. However, really make sure you stick to your trip's purpose, because the last thing you want is to be a slave to some commercial travel blog of yours that takes away from your time loving the city of Bogota or keeps you from lounging on the beach in Madagascar.
Was this Question and Answer post helpful to you? Would you like me to expand on any points above? And if you're savvy to this topic, leave your own feedback and advice! Any other questions about anything? Comment below or contact me! And if you’d like to ask a question to be featured in this series, think about asking the question in a video and sending that URL to me!
*Note: There are affiliate links in this post. I've supplied the links to these resources not because I want your money shamelessly but because I know they've been valuable to many a diverse traveler. Though only some have been helpful to me, and contrary to what Whitney says, I'm not every woman, nor every traveler.
On April 11th, I extended the opportunity for those interested to have a hand in the Internship, to collaborate, for the nature of the program is not to give someone a free trip around the world but to relate to the viewing community and charge their spirits to explore. Therefore, it was essential that I be aware of what people wanted to see. Bob Fawcett, a fellow top ten finalist, went to great (and much appreciated) lengths to offer those very ideas and skills that got him to the top in the first place. A budding film director, he had heaps of ideas to share:
Take advantage of predicaments for video material and make comical yet practical "How-to" episodes
Create themed segments that cover universal ideas in all locations...
Believe it or not, this is the short version of his idea offering. Adhering to Bob's suggestions, I created a poll asking what readers would enjoy seeing, a universal idea across all destinations, and I received some helpful feedback that people want to see sunrises, dance-offs with locals, check out the grocery stores, observe some ridiculous toilet situations, and learn some global cheers or drinkings songs. What an undertaking I attempted!
To document all this while continuing with my internship duties weighed me down on the first and second stops. So for those of you loyal readers, I'm sorry I couldn't carry out a complete documentation of the universal themes you desired to my fullest extent. I had to give the job priority. However, I did manage to concoct this little video on sunrises with a bonus lesson on saying "cheers":
I've taken this experiment as a lesson on what interests the viewer (you) and what I will be capable of the next go-around. Someone who documents travel and experience must be aware of the end results, while also being open and enthusiastic for the unexpected and spontaneous. Golly...learning new things every day.
This week's RSS feeds and reading sessions resulted in some good finds. Here are the articles and book excerpts I've found relevant, as well as an update on Nomadderwhere. This must be why my hometown of Wabash, Indiana has been calling to me these past few months. For years, I felt odd when visiting the town I left, comparing it to my new city of Indianapolis and letting the occasional snotty comment change my perception of where I spent my first 15 years. But Christine, a head Matadorian, wrote about enjoying the simple pleasures (as determined by you) and how this can lead to an authentic, happy, on-track lifestyle.
Many of us can get caught up in what we see other people doing, and compare ourselves - positively or negatively - to how we perceive them. Instead, as Erica points out, it feels better (and I believe, gets us further) to remind ourselves of what we love in our life. The best part about her list is the fact that she names pretty simple things, ones most people can do pretty much anywhere in the world.
Yet another article from Brave New Traveler, this one relates travel with the art form of improv...not your obvious correlation there. This quote rings very true for me in many instances, and these are often the times when I feel I'm being ungrateful or in "grandma mode". However, just as I remember having to make my own fun in a small town, when traveling I often feel it's up to me and not the place to create the awesome experience.
Most of us can accept that going to a party is no promise of having a good time. Yet, not so obvious to many, is that simply going somewhere exotic is no guarantee of enjoyment. Likewise, most people don’t realize improv isn’t about going out on stage without a script and “being funny.”
Currently, I'm reading Lonely Planet's Travel Writing book that is already accumulating a lot of green highlighter marks and sticky notes for its stellar, yet sometimes obvious, advice. Some of the points I've found useful thus far either teach me something that seems to be a key into the industry or simply remind me of a concept I already know and need to continually relearn throughout this career.
Travel writing, more than any other kind of writing, has to transport you, has to teach you about the world, has to inform you, and, ideally, has to take you into deeper and deeper questions about yourself and the world...get the reader to see the world as a question
Writing of every kind is a way to wake oneself up and keep as alive as when one has just fallen in love.
Bad writing often comes from bad traveling - and bad travel is unimaginative, uninformed and unoriginal.
Writing about everything you did on holiday should be kept strictly between you and your diary; you need to find the theme that will interest an editor.
Update on Nomadderwhere
After an anti-laborious weekend with some of my childhood pals, the week became dedicated to identifying ways I can make money by doing what I already love and commit time/energy to. In doing so, I started brainstorming the possibilities for Nomadderwhere, including new sub-domains, ebooks, services to offer, and new ideas for blog posts. Not only am I looking at my own work but at what I can offer to others without having the foundation of multiple publications and such. And if I'm going to think about what others would pay for, I'm going to need to find out what people want to read, look for that hook to bring in readers.
And Future Travel?
I'm beginning to research the great country to the south in preparation for my Mexican Riviera trip in October. Did you know Mexico is crazy about being the best? or having the most? or making the biggest? at acquiring superlatives? Personally, I'm trying to steer away from the American obsession to use or obsess about superlatives (e.g. OMG, Becca, that was like the best Cheeto I've ever had!), but it looks like Mexico is trying to get back on the world's stage for something other than the piggy flu. I'm grateful to all the Tweeters helping me out with advice on Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan and Cabo San Lucas, and if you've got suggestions for adventure sports, good times, and more local excitement, let me know!
I did a little reading this week, and this is what stuck from the lot. Click on the images to read the articles.
I've only recently come to hear of Rolf Potts, and I look forward to reading his novel "Vagablogging" in the coming months. Here on his blog, fellow writer Scott Gilbertson discusses possible reasons for unhappiness as a result of putting your money to the wrong use: stuff for yourself, and not on experiences for yourself or the people around you. I've really tried to apply this philosophy to my life in the last three years, running from buying stuff and saving for memorable experiences...maybe not with the direct goal of happiness at the front of my mind but more for the "I know I'll be a better person for doing this" reason. I've never been Miss Moneybags and have been spending my own money for quite some time, but I've known I always had enough to do the things I wanted. It may also be that I've only chosen to desire the things that are within my reach. Travel the world? Who needs twenty years of savings! Buy some drinks for people I don't know? Bottoms up, strangers! And the times I've spent money on dresses or crap for the shelves have never been as fulfilling as the money spent on a chicken dinner and dance party for kids. I'm not trying to say I'm holier and happier than thou, but it's all we can do to make the sensible, compassionate steps toward being people we're proud of. And if we're proud of who we are, we're probably pretty happy.
Shake Up Your Lazy Inertia
This the second Vagabondish article I've really liked from author Turner Wright. His piece entitled "Why it's easier to stay fat, stupid and untraveled" is pretty straightforward. It's too bad our priorities as a mass population reflect a desire to do very little and be happy with that. We never stay still when we eat, or rarely even cook with known, natural ingredients. If your trigger finger is strong and nimble, you can shoot down every online deal you spend hours on your butt searching for. I guess I fall into the sloth lifestyle upon coming home. I work online or read sixteen hours a day and drive to the gym when I need to move around. I rationalize it as time spent researching and building a foundation for those times when I'm running around the world with a mission and a desire to live out ambitions. Anyway, this is an interesting article and one I'd love to hear reflections on from fellow readers.
You're You Everywhere
Lea Woodward writes well and often about being unattached to a place and still making a living. It's called Location Independence. Look into it. Often it's easy to look at a purpose-driven life that's created from one's passions and think "That is the life!" Well, wherever you go, though, there you are. There you are doing the same things, and even though the initial thrills will please you and your travel objectives, we humans are habitual and get into routines, which often feel remarkably similar to those we once had at home...in that stable, stiffling, mundane environment. Wait a minute. Her article isn't to say creating your own lifestyle anywhere in the world is unnecessary because everything's the same everywhere, but it's a "reality check" to make sure you're not in a dream world. Travel and location independence for some is the holy grail, but romanticizing it too much will lead you astray from the realities.
Toxicity Kills the Journey
If I'm honest, I've felt very toxic for the last few months. The acid in my mind (figuratively speaking...) almost felt tangible at moments, and sometimes it takes all the energy you can muster to make those thoughts liquefy and disperse in the name of happiness. This blog from Brave New Traveler, a Matador magazine on the inner thoughts of a traveler, could have been very useful to me in preventing toxicity during my travels.
Update on Nomadderwhere
Since I've been home from the World Traveler Internship, I've begun work on my new website, researched potential projects, and connected with many people interested in my trajectory. My work week is something like 90 hours. I drink a lot of tea. It doesn't feel like work, which means it's the right path, and surprisingly I still don't feel like I have enough hours to progress as far as I'd like.
So what does all this mean for Nomadderwhere?
I'm learning how to write first and write well. Objectives = great subject matter, great blogs, potentially great book material
I've scheduled four different speaking engagements throughout the Northern Indiana area, some directed at photography passionates and professionals. I'm moving from online expression to that of the verbal kind.
The book on my solo RTW has begun its morphing process into a complete idea. It will take many years and many sessions in front of a blank screen...but that end result will come to be.
A new website will be ready and raring by September 23rd that includes more travel advice, suggestions for reading, technology and destination highlights, free city guides, and an even more exciting development for photography.
I have the incredible fortune of cheap travel in the near future, which gives me the perfect chance to create new work on places I've never been or really observed. October is the Mexican Riviera. November is Chicago, Illinois. Who knows if December will hold nothing or a fantastic travel opportunity with a favorite vagabond pal...
It's been so long since I got my fill of travel-related news and connected with those fellow travel bloggers I envy and respect ever-so. Here are the things I discovered today that got me all giddy and obsessed. Intelligent Travel Blog: This photo dropped my jaw. I saw one of these guys...but from about two football fields away!
Condé Nast Traveler: This travel inspiration challenge had me thinking since...isn't this what I've been trying to do for a while? I gotta get my ideas flowin' again! Also, something helpful as I'm calculating my budget for the final two weeks of the World Traveler Internship and pinching pennies.
Most Traveled People: With my new travel score, I'm now in 40th for ladies age 20-29 in the World. All I gotta say is...Wabash, Indiana!!! And my Semester at Sea neighbor, David, is still beating people like crazy with nearly 200 regions visited.
The main idea is basically that you think about who you are–and trust in that–and not be afraid to break in and let all different parts of yourself flow into the writing. There’s already enough boring crap out there. Say what you really need to say.
I liked this article because so many times in this trip, I've wondered if the content I throw out there in a quick and unedited manner is crap or actually more raw and real. I think I've held a solid grasp on my self-awareness throughout, but there's always room for more. This is a good article.
It's also International Blog Against Racism Week, something I'd never heard about until this afternoon. I'll be reading...and I may be writing. Who knows?
Problogger: For some reason, watching this guy's videos just soothes my soul and makes me feel like I've got a shot in hell at getting Nomadderwhere.com off the ground. His video on using google to help you create content and attract readers made me think I could pull in a whole new crowd. His sock drawer video had me pondering my archives and old pieces that represent my pre-aware phase of blogging. Do they work? Hmm, quandary. I think I've been away from my usual fix of this guy's blogging wisdom too long. It all sounds like poetry.
Jenn Vargas, in a much appreciated move to satiate my travel reading desires, sent me an article I spent much time reading to the last period. It's about traveling on a budget that above all improves the traveler's experience through connections and relationships with places, people, and purposes.
One of the biggest expenses for a traveler is accommodation. Working (or rather, volunteering) in trade for accommodation – also known as caretaking - is a great way to meet the locals, learn about the land, and get off the beaten path. All the while saving thousands of dollars on places to sleep.