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Celebrating Day Of The Seafarer – Behind The Scenes Cruise Ship Heroes

Every week thousands of guests pour onto cruise liners around the world – but what about the work being done behind the scenes by seafarers who spend months at a time away from their own homes, giving others the trip of a lifetime? From the moment they step on board, passengers are cocooned in comfort and indulgence and, if the seafarers are doing their job well, they will be completely unaware of how hard everyone is working in the background to keep things running smoothly.

As a leading cruise ship management company, COLUMBIA cruise services observes Day of the Seafarer on 25 June as a way to celebrate the vital role played by our crews to ensure passengers can enjoy a break from their everyday lives.

Myriad Different Roles

Of course, unlike merchant vessels where seafarers are mostly involved in keeping the ship and cargo safe, on course and on schedule, on a cruise liner the seafarers have roles ranging from housekeeping to entertainment, medicine to fine dining, retail to navigation. In fact, many cruise ships will have a crew well in excess of 2,000 people!

As captain, the Master of the ship is accountable for the vessel itself and everyone on board, a position of great responsibility as the ship sails from port to port. Working under the master’s command, the crew is made up of individuals with differing skills, each as important as the next in the success of the voyage.

Engineering And Deck Staff

Performing the classic seafarer roles, deck staff are responsible for navigation and ensuring that the ship travels safely no matter the weather conditions and obstacles in the way. They are well trained and have the expertise to plot course, interpret the navigational charts and operate the sophisticated equipment on board. Meanwhile, the engineers look after the ship’s mechanical and electrical systems, maintaining the equipment and engines so that they perform efficiently and effortlessly. The engineering staff are responsible not only for the propulsion of the vessel but also for the HVAC systems that regulate the climate on board and keep crew and passengers comfortable.

Hospitality Team

Imagine all the work handled by the hospitality team in a world class hotel and then transfer it onto a moving ship – that in a nutshell is the role of this team. Catering to the needs of all the passengers whether in the dining rooms, bars and entertainment venues, they must create a welcoming atmosphere that entices guests and leaves them wanting more.

Housekeeping Staff

All cabins and public areas must be maintained to the highest standards of comfort and cleanliness and the housekeeping staff are hard at work day and night. Success for them is when they remain virtually invisible while their attention to detail is obvious to all.

The Entertainment And Retail Teams

Whether singing, playing an instrument, dancing, performing acrobatics or acting, this team will be providing entertainment as well as organising activities on board. They will be supported by a backstage team who look after lighting, sound systems or possibly even smoke effects. Keeping passengers and crew supplied with a range of cruise appropriate products, the retail teams are responsible for manning the onboard shops seven days a week.

Medical Support

With so many people on board, the cruise ship is effectively a small town at sea and, as with any small town, people have accidents or fall ill, so the ship’s crew will include doctors and nurses who have the training to deal with most common ailments.

Kitchen Brigades

With many thousands of people on board and generally several different restaurants and cafes, kitchen staff are on call from very early in the morning to late at night, providing breakfasts, lunches, snacks and an enormous variety of dinners for guests from many different cultures looking for a range of cuisines.

No matter their role, every crew member is dedicated to the safety of the ship and its passengers. They have all been extensively trained to not only handle their own work but to also deal with any emergency that might arise. They are also responsible for ensuring that the ship adheres to maritime regulations and that includes conducting regular inspections and implementing emergency protocols.

Maintaining The Marine Environment

Seafarers also play a vital role in caring for the oceans and the marine life that inhabits them. Cruise lines adopt sustainable practices and mariners are at the forefront of these efforts, implementing waste management initiatives, ensuring optimal performance of their engines and minimising the ecological footprint of their operations.

Despite the challenges, life on a cruise ship is very rewarding. The crew builds a tight community over the months at sea and friendships develop through the shared experiences. What’s more, there is the chance to explore exotic locations and live with diverse people from different cultures. But passengers should never forget that behind the glamour and extravagance is a workforce ensuring that their holiday is the stuff of dreams that they will remember down the years.