Cruising 101 Part 3: Below Deck (Behind the Scenes)

March 23, 2021
 Cruising 101 Part 3: Behind the Scenes on a Ship
(The Real Below Deck Info)
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This review is my personal opinion. I am not paid by anyone. I do not receive any amenities (free or discounted).

The last post had information about: departure ports, ships' amenities and destinations (ports of call). So, you are almost on your way.

Part of the turn down service each evening
One of my room mates: Turn down service usually includes a towel animal each evening.


How does a Cruise Ship Sail?
(All photos are for editorial/reporting use only. Photos copyrighted by Marcia Crayton)

Since a cruise ship is essentially a full-service floating resort, it can take as many as 1400 people to make your vacation an awesome experience. (First thing to remember: it's always a ship, never a boat!)

The captain: in charge of the ship and is the ultimate authority; has usually been to maritime academy and/or graduate school and is licensed/certified; has to have many years of experience working the way up the ladder, through 3rd, 2nd and 1st mate positions, staff captain/chief mate and taking umpteen exams. This journey can take at least 10 years.
The officers:  are usually dressed in the white uniforms or in their dress blacks in the evening. This category includes the engineers, radio officers, oil people and plumbers.


Carnival Splendor, in port (editorial use only)

Dining: there is a head chef, and staff (baker, sous chef, etc) and a head waiter and staff. For the wait staff, there may be intermediary positions. This staff works in the dining room and at the buffets. Along side of these are the bartenders, who work at the various bars throughout the ship.


Maintenance and housekeeping: these important people keep our staterooms looking pretty and working properly, from fixing the toilet to cleaning up after the poor people who may get sick (for various reasons...)


Editorial purposes only

The Cruise Director: Clubs, casinos, theaters, shows, movies on deck, ugly Christmas sweater night. Where do you find out about all of that and who arranges for it? Your friendly cruise director, of course.  The cruise director supervises the entertainment staff, hosts events and makes those famous announcements. 


Lido Deck Party on the Carnival Vista, editorial purposes only

Customer Service: Service desks such as excursions, customer service, the photo area, the spa/salon people, and your friendly booking agent (there are discounts if you book your next cruise right then and there) will operate with business hours, (except for the photo and spa). 

Ruby Princess, editorial use only

Kids Activities: the children's counselors/youth activities directors. Kids' areas are usually divided into 4 areas: infants/toddlers/pre-school; elementary age (somewhere around ages 5-9 or 10); middle school (10 or 11-13) and teens, high school age. Drinking and gambling age may be 21, although the late night clubs may admit age 18 and older. 

Carnival Pride, editorial use only.

The staff personnel work long hours. The crew (housekeeping, wait staff) will bunk in shared quarters on Deck 1 or below. Staff (entertainment, supervisors) may or may not share quarters and may be on Decks 2 and/or 3. Your traditional officers (including the cruise director, chef and maybe the assistants) may have staterooms where the passengers are: Decks 4, 5, 6 or  higher. Of course the captain has a nice stateroom, perhaps a suite.

The staff makes towel animals overnight on the lido deck

Everyone, regardless of rank, works 10-14 hours but they do get breaks and they get to go ashore when in port. The wait staff works hard: they work the buffets, afternoon tea and meals in the dining rooms and on the private island days. Your room is serviced twice a day (making up the room when you leave in the morning and turn-down service in the evening, complete with a towel animal), plus there is room service.

Editorial Purposes Only

In the morning, around 5AM or 6AM, someone is literally swabbing the deck, chairs are being readied and the pool has already been serviced. The fitness center usually opens up then and yoga or spin classes start.

Editorial Purposes Only

Many, many positions were not mentioned: the dressed up characters/actors, the sound and light crew, life guards (although signs are posted about swimming at your own risk), security and who knows, there may be a person who is responsible for running the movies, not to mention the in-house closed circuit TV channels.

Hopefully, you will enjoy your experience more when you encounter the hard working staff on your trip. Smile back when they greet you and be nice to them! :)

All Photos Copyright Marcia Crayton, 2018. All Rights Reserved.


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Cruising 101 Series:


Part 1: 10 Facts to Know

Part 2: How to Book a Cruise

Part 3: Below Deck & Behind the Scenes

Part 4: What to Pack

Part 5: Plan Your Own Excursions

Part 6: Hidden Costs


Cruise Reviews:


Anthem of the Seas

Jewel of the Seas

Carnival Pride

Cruise to Alaska

Intro to Carnival Cruise Line


How to Travel Series

Part 1: Plan Your Own Trip

Part 2: Resources to Use

Part 3: Travel With Electronics

Part 4: Renting a Car