-Their Ownership and Crew Makeup
The following is the fifth in a six part “Cruise Mini Camp” series of informational offerings
Each Cruise Line and Ship class is unique – While each cruise line has its own brand and ownership. It also has its own history, as well as its own societal characteristics and dogmas. Simply put each Cruise Line has different ideas about customer service, and policies directed to achieve their individual goals. So often the prospective cruise customer makes cruise decisions based on price, rather than the actual individual value they end up perceiving for the cruising dollars they spend. Having been somewhat required to educate myself on each of the cruise lines and their fleets I have been afforded a somewhat different perspective from that of being an insider, as well as seeing things very much from my own needs, as “the customer”.
A Ships Inside Makeup – Let’s look at the physical ships parts for a moment. Most of the Pools, and Sporting type entertainments are going to be found in outside environments. However, outside doesn’t necessarily mean that they are located on the upper most deck. As many of the new ships offer vast open caverns of space on them, the way in which we used to think about cruise ships, continues to evolve. However with some exceptions pools, volley ball, driving range, zip lines, flow riders, basketball, putt putt, etc will be situated at or near the uppermost decks. If you are looking for the Gym, best bet would be on upper level decks and pretty much forward, however they will certainly be within a climate controlled enclosed area. Now after that verbal workout, you’re tired out, and are probably hungry or thirsty. While the formal dining room areas tend to be situated in the mid to lower decks toward the aft (rear portion) of the ship; the specialty restaurants are going to be in various different locales, generally they will be situated near the sides of the ship, and forward or aft for views afforded by such locations. If you are heading off to see the show, you will be headed down towards the lower decks and generally as forward as you can get. Typically the only venue that will be located below the theater will be the ice rink, or the bowling alley (due to their weight they bring needing to be situated as low as possible within the ship). Casino’s are typically situated in the midship’s area, probably very close to (and between) elevator and stairway banks. While most folks use the Casino as a walkway area to get to somewhere else, it makes for an otherwise unusable area, so it turns out to be a good place to let people park themselves and gamble away their monies.(If you don’t like cigarette smoke you probably won’t want stay in the Casino long). The Ship’s infirmary will be located on very lowest of the passenger decks usually associated with the gangway and service areas, which are associated with passengers with restricted or limited mobility. Basically, those type of services/passengers that need easy on and easy off capability.
Changes Within the Fleets -New Cruise Ships are being launched into service today at an astounding rate. While our present economic environment would question such expenditures, decisions to purchase/build ships was made more than 5 years in advance to their actual launch dates. So these buy decisions were being made at a different time, when the economic conditions were also much different than they are today. It has been estimated by cruise line industry sources that just during the period from 2007 to 2011, there will be added 44 new ships for a total of an additional 38,400 beds that will be added to the current inventory, that will require filling every cruise, every week, of every year. My opinion (humble though it may be) is that for the next few foreseeable years, that demand in the marketplace (if future economic trends remain at or near current levels) will require the Cruise Lines to make some hard decisions with respect to cruise fares, along with new and innovative ideas for bringing these additional customers on board their ships. With each of these new ships come changes and/or advancements in technology and with it new amenities being offered. This requires dedicated and diligent efforts to be able to stay abreast of all of the new changes and ships coming on line. While hearing or reading about something lends something to it’s true perspective. Seeing, Feeling/Touching, Smelling, and most importantly Experiencing it, is really the only true way to know about something. While my colleagues tell me that I cannot possibly experience it all (and to date their words have been true) I respond “give me a chance”; as thus far I am about half way to seeing every cruise ship line’s class of ship. But as for me. there is still time to accomplish this great undertaking. Anyway, whether I am succesful or not, it surely is fun trying to reach my goal.
Crews and their Unique Variables – Another truly neat component of the various Cruise Line differences is that of their crew makeup. Did you know that many (if not most) of the major Cruise Lines, target specific geographical areas for their crew recruitment efforts. Also, depending on the type of Crew Member (Senior Staff, Middle Staff, or Service Staff levels) can often dictate the specific hiring objective of each Cruise Line? While many service staff members are a compilation of multi international backgrounds, many of the cruise lines place a strong focus on Indo-Asian Cultures, while others are European, but for safety and communications needs most cruise lines require crew members to be fluent in speaking and understanding English. .
Generally with respect to Senior Staff positions, especially those associated with the Navigational duties within the ship will often times be native to their line’s ownership locations, or will have at least been educated or trained in that part of the globe. While the same does not hold true when it comes to Senior Staff associated with the Culinary duties of the ship, as these folks will normally come from backgrounds with those Academies, Institutes, and previous work experience that are considered as expertise driven or accomplished in the culinary world. More cruise lines have made recent additions to their offerings of Asian Cuisine, which is no surprise that many of the ships service crew is from this part of the world than ever before.
Work Conditions – Generally, working conditions aboard ship would be considered by most as hard or even to some harsh. Crew are typically exposed to 10-12 hours work days (some even more), and generally must work split shift, and rotations that vary from day-to-day that allows for little or no regular sleep patterns. Generally they get little in the ways of complete days off. It is more like a space of 12 hours or so (at the most together) in any 8 to 10 day string. They are bound to this schedule for the duration of their contract which depending upon the cruise line runs from 8 to 10 months (as a rule). It is normal for a worker to have a month or more off between contract periods. While such a life might seem unbearable to you and me, these workers (most of whom are married with children back home) are working to send this money back home to their families. Additionally they work these jobs, as they are able to make multiple times more than what they could earn back in their homelands. Many cruise workers will choose only to work these cruise jobs for certain time periods and then stop altogether, or take a sabbatical and maybe return or even with another cruise line. So keep in mind, that they are very hard workers and the tips we provide to them helps them not only to support their families, but we provide tips to the service workers where we are from every day we use them, and generally don’t even think about it. Be sure to take care of those, who take care of you aboard ship!
Summary – So as previously stated there can be a lot of difference in the various cruise lines and their makeup. When deciding on a cruise line, I believe the key components to consider is not just where/when you want to go, but more importantly is; what are some of the things you regularly like to do? What kind of things would you like to do, or have not yet done? What Hotel/Restaurant brands do you like to patronize? When flying, what type of service class do you purchase? These are answers to the questions that I feel are important to being able to choose the appropriate Cruise Line service provider, as well a making the right decision as to Stateroom Category and Class of Ship to Book on. Most likely the questions you heard in the past were, what and where do you want to go? and How much do you wish to spend? Agreeably, while they both have merit, I don’t believe they are key to achieving real success, as much as the questions I outlined above. Only after your cruise planner or travel agent is armed with the most information about you will he or she be able to be the most help in trying to determine the best possible fit with all of the different cruise lines and ship styles to fit your needs.
Wow! You have come far, and hopefully gained much. Now you are ready for our final lesson plan in our Cruising Mini Camp. It’s title is Final Cruise Preperations Checklist, which you can view by (clicking here). Hope you Enjoy!
For more information on The Various Cruiselines, Ships, and their makeups, contact Mike via email email@example.com . You can tweet (or follow) Mike at http://www.twitter.com/cruisewithmike . To “Join” our Travel Club go to: http://meetup.com/Sun-Cities-Travelers-Group/ Mikes web site can be found at www.mberryhill.cruiseholidays.com . Follow this daily blog (or subscribe to it) at http://www.cruisewithmike.com (or merely click on the subscribe button above to have daily delivery to your email). View all of Mikes uploaded Flickr Photo Galleries at http://www.flickr.com/photos/cruisewithmike/ . Mike also is editor of his own twice daily e-newspapaer called “The Compass Headings” you can see (or subscribe to) it free! at http://paper.li/CruisewithMike
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Cruise Ships, a Glimpse Inside-End