Written by Domonique Harrelson
People have often told me that I do things that most people wouldn’t. I don’t know if I believe them, but there are some accounts where I have done some pretty interesting things. Most recently, I finished my first contract with Norwegian Cruise Line as a shipboard photographer. It sounds like a real great opportunity however the facade quickly comes crumbling down after the first month. Enough of my bickering, lets go over the questions that I had to answer repeatedly during my sentence on the cruise ship.
Q) How did you manage to work on a cruise ship?
A) When it comes to finding a job sometimes who you know is more important. One of my college buddies had gotten a job as a Norwegian photographer prior to me joining and had told me about it. She set me up with her recruiter and I went to a job fair that was held in Virginia Beach. If you don’t have a connection, getting a job on a ship isn’t all that hard. All the information is on the cruise line’s page.
Q) Dude, why are you here?
A) This is a question that was usually asked by my shipboard companions. They know that that the pay isn’t great for Americans and thought I was crazy for doing it in the first place. I would say the typical cliché answer, “I’m here for the same reason as most are, to travel and see the world.” They would reply, “We are here because there are no opportunities back home. Yeah, the travel is nice but you don’t always to decide where you go.”
Q) Oh wow, your English accent is really good. Where are you from?
A) I would usually chuckle and tell them I from the states. I can’t blame them because most people think I’m from some place exotic. When your mom is Hawaiian, Filipino, Chinese, and white and your dad is black and Native American, you tend to confuse people!
Q) I have noticed a lot of people from the Philippines working on the ship. Do you know why that is?
A) The conversion rate is amazing for them. Imagine going to McDonald’s and every combo meal on the menu being a dollar. It’s like that. When they finish their contracts they comeback home and live like kings and typically com back to the ship as peasants.
Q) Can I ask you a personal question?
A) I already know what the personal question is. You want to know how much I make working on a cruise ship? Yeah I don’t mind telling you! The pay isn’t that great. The base pay is $1,100 a month and there are ways to make commission on top of that but I don’t try because it results in extra pennies.
Q) But you guys don’t have to pay for room and board or food right?
A) No we don’t, but they do cram us into rooms like sardines. Also, the food that we receive in the crew mess is sub par to what you guys eat on the upper decks, so I was pretty much on a diet of Cheerios and Froot Loops for 6 months.
Q) How long have you been on the ship for? Do you like it?
A) I have been on the ship for so and so time and my contract is for 6 months. I’m supposed to tell you that I love my job because that is what they teach us in orientation, but to be real with you, it’s just not for me. This is my first and last contract.
So there you have it, straight from the photographer’s mouth.
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