Unlimited buffets and all the drinks you can handle aboard a luxury ship jam-packed with enough entertainment for thousands of guests – what’s better than a cruise? While this may seem like a dream vacation to some, the men and women who work these ships have a very different view of the subject.
Cruise line workers are finally breaking their silence. Some recently shared the most shocking cruise ship secrets of all time. After reading these 20 surprising facts, even the most seasoned cruise veteran may want to cancel their vacation plans.
1. Surcharges: Though booking sites may advertise cruises as all-inclusive, there are a number of undisclosed surcharges for amenities such as the internet, beverages, and excursions. Some believe that nearly a quarter of the industry’s profits are made from these hidden charges.
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2. Crew Cabins: To be fair, crew members are forced to share tiny, windowless rooms at the bottom of the ship. Most of these cabins are so small that workers actually sleep in bunk beds just to leave enough space to get to the bathroom!
3. Relations: Sexual relationships between crew members and passengers are strictly forbidden, but hookups between crew members are so common that it almost seems like the cruise lines encourage it.
4. Security: In order to avoid trapping passengers in the event of an onboard disaster, most of the doors on cruise ships don’t completely lock — including cabin doors. Keep that in mind the next time you decide to get a little more “comfortable” on a cruise ship getaway.
5. Drinking: While drinks can run passengers $10 to $12 each, crew members reportedly pay as little as $2 per drink. It’s no wonder, then, that nearly half the crew members on most ships are rumored to be drunk 24/7.
6. Labor Divide: On most cruise ships, client-facing roles are reserved solely for crew members hired from developed countries. The rest of the crew is relegated below deck, working long hours in the kitchens and other low-visibility areas of the ship for as little as $400/month.
7. Jail: For those that get a little too rambunctious on their tropical vacation, most cruise ships are equipped with fully functioning jail cells. Complete with uncomfortable cots and dirty toilets, passengers will think twice the next time they order another round of sake bombs.
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8. On-Board Deaths: Not only do cruise ships have a place for unruly passengers, they also have room for those unfortunate souls that keel over mid-voyage. In fact, one cruise ship worker reported that there is an average of three deaths per month on most vessels.
9. Medical Care: Whatever you do, don’t get sick on a cruise ship. Most of the medical facilities on these vessels are under-equipped. The doctors are also often outsourced from foreign countries where medical standards are questionable at best.
10. Outbreaks: Because you have so many people confined to one relatively small area, disease outbreaks are common. In fact, there were eight reported cases of norovirus outbreaks on cruise ships during the first three months of 2014 alone.
11. Americans: Though most cruises employ workers from all around the world, the bigger lines tend to avoid hiring Americans. Apparently, American crew members are notorious for their high expectations and nonexistent work ethic. How rude!
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12. Surveillance: Think you’re being watched? Well, you are. Any time you’re out on the main deck, there’s a 99.9% chance that a surveillance camera is watching you. One couple even found a camera hidden inside their cabin!
13. Pirates: The Captain Phillips kind. Pirate attacks are a very real threat to cruise ships in many parts of the world, and crew members are often trained to combat them. Some ships employ water cannons to stave off these attacks, while others use high-frequency devices to deafen and repel.
14. Meals: Because ships can’t just dock every day to pick up fresh meat and produce, meal planners are required to purchase food for the trip beforehand, and all at once. Let’s hope that seafood is still fresh by day seven…
15. Tax Loopholes: Ever wonder how cruise lines can afford to charge such low rates for luxury vacations? Most companies exploit a loophole in the U.S. tax code that allows them to incorporate in foreign countries with looser tax laws, thus keeping profits high and ticket prices low.
16. Sewage: On average, a cruise ship will produce over 200,000 gallons of human waste during a week-long trip. Now, where does all that waste go? Into the ocean, of course! Just a few miles off the shore of some of your favorite beaches.
17. Wages: Workers get paid very little in terms of salary and rely on the bonuses they receive as a result of customer feedback. So if a passenger leaves a negative review about a crew member, there’s a good chance they’ll lose their bonus.
18. Refunds: While booking a cruise is a relatively low-stress process, most companies make requesting a refund incredibly difficult. Even in the face of catastrophe, cruise lines have been known to refuse to give refunds to their passengers.
19. Pranks: When spending months at sea becomes tedious, crew members will often play pranks on passengers for fun. The most common prank is sending passengers on a wild goose chase for certain ship amenities–such as indoor pools, arcades, and bowling alleys–that don’t exist.
20. Fuel: In order to cut costs, most cruise ships utilize a kind of thick petroleum called “bunker fuel,” which contains five thousand times more sulfur than regular gasoline. The burning of this crude fuel has a devastating impact on the environment.
Next time you’re considering a trip to a tropical destination, flying may be the way to go…
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