When you sign up for a job on a cruise ship, you know that you’re signing up for a lot of work. Often, for your entire contract, you will never have a single day off, and will often work hours of early mornings till late nights. While you do get time off while aboard the ship – there’s not too much of it – but here’s how we like to spend it on sea days and port days.

Reading, Writing, and the Internet

If you’re planning on going aboard, make sure you bring some books. With limited internet access, you’ll have plenty of time to do lots of reading, and even lots of writing if you’re interested in keeping a blog. The internet is pay-as-you-go, and even though it’s discounted, it’s still rather expensive. Make sure you do as many things as you can offline, before clicking the connect button.

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Watching Movies

You’ll have a TV in your cabin which will occasionally play movies. If you’re learning another language they are often played in one – so it’s a perfect opportunity to practice your comprehension. Movie nights with your friends are also common. Just this week my friends and I ordered pizzas and watched Titanic; our ship started shaking as the Titanic hit the iceberg, the added effect made for a good memory.

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Passenger Areas

Certain positions on the ship will afford you unrestricted access to passenger areas – but there are always rules associated with it. A certain way to dress, a certain way to behave, places to sit, places to stand, and the passenger all comes first. While it is nice to enjoy the amenities the guests enjoy in your free time, we often prefer the crew areas simply for the peace and freedom. That isn’t to say that we don’t all enjoy going to a passenger bar or restaurant now and again

In Your Cabin

Probably where you’ll be spending most of your free time, as most of your free time will consist of sleeping. Chances are you’ll be sharing with a roommate (or three), so get ready for a curtain around your bed to be your only measure of privacy. Occasionally you will throw a party with all your friends, where you’ll bond over cheap wine and chocolate from a foreign country. With the only window being the television, it’s still the place you call home.

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Crew Bar

It’s best bar aboard the ship and passengers are not allowed to visit. Depending on the night, you’ll find an independence day celebration of a country you can’t locate on a map, or a quiet pub atmosphere with all your friends. With no dress code it’s entirely possible (read likely) that you’ll show up in your uniform, or pyjamas. The drinks are cheap, and I mean cheap. You can get a beer for a dollar, or a bottle of wine for three – but watch out; there’s likely an alcohol tolerance limit, and your bar-mates are, unfortunately, always watching you.

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The Gym

Going to the gym is a bit more difficult when you work on a cruise ship. Generally, there are two gyms onboard: the crew gym, and the passenger gym. The passenger gym is more equipped in every way imaginable, but is often inaccessible to crew members, either at certain times, or entirely based on position.

This leaves crew with the option of going to the crew gym, which can often be busy, have damaged equipment, and low ceilings making it impossible to finish your workout without resembling the Hunchback of Notre Dame. The listing (rocking) of the ship also plays a large factor, as it’s difficult to run on a treadmill while the ship is swaying 30 degrees either way. Either way though, if you’re wanting to stay in shape, and keep healthy, at the end of the day these are just excuses, and there are plenty of ways to do so onboard, and it’s a good way to spend your free time.

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Ashore

Perhaps the best place to spend your free time. Every day is a new adventure, with unlimited freedom away from the ship. We often go in search of WiFi, good food, and good beers, but that isn’t to say that we won’t go skydiving, parasailing, or anything else. Make sure to set your watch so you’ll be back in time.

We also have the opportunity to accompany passenger tours, often at a discounted cost. It gives us the opportunity to see things far away from the ship, without having to worry about being back on time, and any opportunity to not rush is always appreciated.

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