Ex-Carnival, Royal Caribbean, and Norwegian Cruise Line workers reveal what they wanted to tell passengers but couldn’t

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“Most of the guests were genuinely nice people, but there were a few who took the ‘being American’ thing a little too far,” a former Seabourn Cruise Line employee said.
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mariakraynova/Shutterstock

Like other employees in the hospitality industry, cruise-ship workers are tasked with making guests as happy as possible.

That means workers can’t always be honest with passengers about their behavior or the realities of working on a cruise ship, which can be a grueling experience.

Business Insider asked current and former cruise-ship workers what they wish they could tell passengers but can’t. Seven responded with insights into their job or advice for passengers who might not think about the demands placed on workers. Each requested anonymity for fear of reprisal from their current or former employer.

Here are eight things current and former cruise-ship workers wish they could tell passengers but can’t.

Have you worked on a cruise ship? Do you have a story to share? Email this reporter at mmatousek@businessinsider.com.


Don’t ask annoying questions

A contractor who has worked for Norwegian Cruise Line said questions like “Where do you live?” and “Are you always on the ship?” are annoying.


Don’t get too rowdy

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mariakraynova/Shutterstock

“Most of the guests were genuinely nice people, but there were a few who took the ‘being American’ thing a little too far,” a former Seabourn Cruise Line employee said. “They were raucous and got way to drunk each night, so it would have been nice to slap the privilege out of them, but unfortunately, we weren’t allowed to strike the guests.”


Be kind

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Loic Venance/Getty Images

It’s important to have a good attitude toward cruise ship workers, a former Carnival Cruise Line bar waitress said.

“You never know how physically, emotionally, and mentally tired a crewmember can be,” she said.


Tips are important

The former Carnival bar waitress said tips, on top of automatic gratuities included in drink purchases, made up a large percentage of her overall pay.

“Extra tips pretty much were my strongest source of income,” she said.


Talk less, listen more

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Carlos Barria/Reuters

“Shut up and listen. Just listen,” a former Carnival hostess said.


Crew members know the best places to go at ports

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Royal Caribbean

“Get to know a crew member and find out where the truly good places are to go when the ship pulls into port,” a former Royal Caribbean employee said.


Workers can’t control everything

During situations that frustrate some passengers but are out of workers’ control, like a delayed arrival at a port due to traffic or inclement weather that forces passengers to remain on the ship, it would have been nice to be honest with passengers rather than having to coddle them, said a former cruise director for Holland America Line.

“You have to kind of bite your tongue,” he said. “I wish you could be more honest with some of them.”


Driving a ship isn’t as hard as it looks

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Lucas Oleniuk/Toronto Star via Getty Images

“Driving the ships isn’t that hard,” a former first officer for Royal Caribbean who now works for The World, a residential cruise ship, said. “On cruise ships mostly we have two officers on the bridge all the time but it is not really necessary.”

The bridge is the area where the captain and officers control the ship’s speed and direction.