So the first evening I put on my normal uniform and go to the desk and walk around the ship (and of course get lost). The next morning I was again assigned to the desk, so I put on the same uniform. At breakfast one of my coworkers tells me to go change because it is the morning so we wear orange, even at the desk. I hastily eat some breakfast and ran back to my room to change and make it on time for work. In the afternoon, when I had to go back to work, I again put on my normal uniform, since that is the evening uniform. You can imagine my surprise when I got to the back office, and everybody was wearing something different. Turns out that night was gala night, and my team forgot to tell me. So now, for the second time that day, I was running to change my uniform. This uniform stuff stayed confusing for a few weeks (especially since I kept forgetting when gala night was), but you get the hang of it eventually. I also realized later that my boss actually wrote on the schedule which inform we were supposed to be wearing that day, which was super helpful.
Now you are probably thinking “this only happens to you and nobody else”. WRONG! It happened to almost everybody. Take for example one of my friends from the bar. They have a different color vest for each bar. Now imagine keeping track of that.
Another funny story comes from my friend at the reception. So when he embarked they gave him the standard male gala uniform (a tux shirt and a bowtie). So the first gala night comes around and he goes to the Reception all dressed up….. and promptly gets sent back to his room to change. Turns out the guys don’t really care if it is gala night or not. They wear the same uniform all the time!
Another thing that might cause you some trouble are schedules. See you will never work the normal 9-to-5 on a cruise ship, but you will also not work the normal shifts you would work in the hospitality industry on land. There it would be like 6-14 and then 14-23 or something like that. On board, it really depends on your department when and how much you work. If you are bar, housekeeping or restaurant, you will work about 10-11 hours a day (maybe more). Some of the other departments are better where it is about an average of 8 to 9, but still. So once you had an idea what your working hours would be like, you still had to figure out how to read your schedule. Most of the schedules had one big one for all the members of the department, so you had to make sure to actually read yours and not somebody else. Thy would create some kind of grid and then color in the boxes when you had to work. It can get very confusing at the beginning. Luckily, a couple of times when I misread it, I always thought I started earlier than I did, so I was never late, but still. Also, you are (or at least I was) frantically double-checking the copy of the schedule I had just to make sure I read it correctly the first 500 times I looked at it.
So you have your uniform and your schedule, there is still the challenge of getting everything else. As we said in the first part, you will get lost. This is not an option, it is a FACT. Regardless if you end up on one of the smaller ships (with ONLY 2500 passengers on it) or the bigger ones (with more than 4000), you will find yourself walking up and down the “highway” trying to find the stairs that lead to the laundry or the hotel store. The first time you need to go find toilet paper, the hunt will start and you will be running up and down stairs. You remember that your roommate told you to take the stairs next to the forward elevators. While that is correct most days, today is a sea day, and therefore all the watertight doors are closed and you can’t pass this way. So back up you go and try to find the next stairs. After about three or four tries (which feels more like one hundred) your finally find the right now and it turns out the store is closed. At least you now know where it is. Now imagine this story EVERY TIME you have to look for a new thing. Do you need to vacuum your room? Let’s spend half an hour looking for the vacuum renting room to find it closed or out of vacuums. Or the laundry. Or really any other service they might offer, the same thing will probably happen.
So there you have it. The first couple of things that will happen once you are on board and starting to get used to life. Part 3 is all about ports. You can read all about friendships and love in Part 4. If you are wondering what it is like to live with a roommate and how to do it the best way, you can find them in Part 5. Also here are some answers to many people ask, which you might have been wondering as well. Lastly, if you need some ideas about what to do in ports, read my port guide here.