Professional challenge and outstanding salaries a few steps away from home
The river cruise positions are a great opportunity for all of those who aim to build a professional career in catering, earn high salaries but not too away from home. It is all available on board of a river longship, so the popularity is not surprising.
Nowadays the river cruise industry is like the ocean cruises, with the high number of luxurious vessels on the Danube, Reine, Seine and at the Mediterranean rivers of Europe. Moreover, the newly opened Asian and Russian routes are the testimony of the reliability of this expanding business and a wide spectrum of opportunities.
WORK ON BOARD OF A RIVER LONGSHIP
You should imagine these ships as the ocean cruise liners, with the difference that here the exclusive service and experience is the main goal, not the entertainment of the guests.
This difference is a gold mine for the catering professionals, because of the lower guest number, they can maximize their attention and service for the high tipping incomes. However, of course, let’s start at the basics, and find out the positions you can work at.
WAITERS AND BARWAITERS
Your duties as a waiter are the same as on land. You have to take orders, serve the dishes, and assist the guests on the proper A la Carte way. You should know the menu, give advice, offer vines, and ensure the satisfaction of the guests.
As a bar waiter, you must take care of the bar of the ship, with the assistance of your manager, the bartender. Of course, there will be an opportunity to be behind the bar and make cocktails, but you have to imagine these bars more like an exclusive lounge, not a busy disco.
The bar waiters are usually separated, but during the night time when the restaurant is full they take their part of the job and assist for their colleagues, and later when the bar is full, the waiters will help back.
As a chambermaid or cabin stewardess (as they call it on board) your main job is to take care of the guest cabins, corridors, areas of the ship on the proper way. There is no difference between the land and the on board work, because the bedding, cleaning, sanitation and HACCP regulations are quite the same.
As on land, you will see rankings in the department, because there are simple chambermaids whose responsibility are the proper cleaning, and supervisors, who take their part of the cleaning duties, but they have other tasks, such as the organizing, schedule, general supervision, stocks, and the coordination of the laundry.
COOKS AND CHEFS
There is a big responsibility on the cooks on board because they must create various meals for more than 200 persons each day. Based on this, there is a strong hierarchy in the kitchen, to make sure that everything will go flawless. In practice, this can be a big advantage for the cooks because with low experience, they can learn the methods of a high-standard kitchen, and the experienced chefs can use their high skills.
Executive chef: The leader of the whole kitchen, who is responsible for the stocks, schedule, menus, and the communication with the guests. To work in this position, you must have similar experience.
Sous Chef: The assistant of the Exec. Chef who can be responsible for similar tasks, and must ensure the proper communication in the whole team.
Chef de Partie: Who is responsible for separated tasks, such as the side dishes, meats, soups and similar. This position is the most common, and it is a good start for the cooks with less experience.
Segédszakács: The general assistant in the kitchen, who will help for all the chefs in any of the duties. Ideal for beginner cooks, who wants to gain experience.
Confectioners: They are responsible for the sweets and cookies served on board. It is a separated field, so no surprise that the average salary is higher, but you will need to have lots experience to sign up.
Based on the differences between the cruise lines, you can find other levels as well, such as the breakfast cooks, gardemangers, etc.
KITCHEN ASSISTANTS AND UTILITY
The kitchen assistance on board is a complex duty, where you have to take care about the preparation (vegetables, meat, similar), some basic cooking duties like eggs and bacon, operate the dishwashing machines, and take care about the tidiness of the whole kitchen, the storages and the freezers according the HACCP rules. Also in this position you have to should expect the assistance for the laundry crew sometime, and physical tasks for example when stock arrives to the vessel.
RECEPTIONISTS AND NIGHT AUDITORS
The receptionist’s duties are the same as on land with a few extra tasks:
The regular duties are the following:
Take care of the guest’s suggestions, problems
Payment and invoice coordination
Communication with the other departments
Representation of the cruise company towards the guests
The extra tasks are the following:
Manage the guest administration and coordination of the embarkation days
Ensure the closure of the vessel at night
Cover shop/sales duties in the vessel’s shops
Take care about the crew
To cover these duties, you must have the proper language skills as per the regulations of the company, and at least 2 years of full time front office experience from a 4-5-star hotel. As a night auditor, the recommendations are the little bit lover, but still need to reach the proper language skills and some experience.
What is the similar in all fields of work on board?
Since there are 35-45 crewmembers are on board, all of you must assist each other according your skills and knowledge. That can mean the stock/luggage handling at the embarkation day, kitchen assistance for the housekeeping workers, laundry duties for the restaurant etc. The similar in these that you must complete only those duties, which you have the knowledge for, so as a waiter, you don’t need to cook for example.
Just as on the ocean, you must speak the needed language (English or German) on a basic/conversational level based on the position. These exact requirements are different each time, but you will be informed well during your application, and you can see them in the ads of the exact positions.
Also during the application process, your skill will be assessed, so you don’t have to face with difficulties or the risk of resignation on board.
Most of the time the qualification is not necessary, so for example you don’t need to complete a waiter school to step on board. The only position when it needed are the cooks/chefs and nautical crew – which is reasonable.
Because you will work as a team, you must know your duties from the first minute on board. It means that a 3-7 month of experience needed in the following positions:
And you have the chance to get hired with no, or minimal experience in the following jobs:
You can enjoy the similar advantages as on the ocean cruises, means that you don’t have to calculate with accommodation, meals and utility costs. Furthermore, you can expect bonuses in every month based on the revenue of the cruises over your base salary. Overall you can calculate with 1600-2000 Eur each month at the paydays. Let’s see it by positions:
Waiters/Barwaiters: 1100 Eur base+500-1200Eur/month bonus
Receptionists: 950 Eur base+500-1200Eur/month bonus
Chambermaids: 950 Eur base+500-1200Eur/month bonus
Kitchen assistants/utility: 950 Eur base+500-1200Eur/month bonus
Cooks/chefs: 1200-2000Eur base+400-1200Eur/month bonus
The average work hours on board are between 8-10 hours when the crew is full, and the exact schedule is based on the position itself. The common fact about all the positions and vessels that they are operating with 7 workdays per week, just as on the ocean cruises. For the first time, it sounds a lot, but there is no sense to have a full day off (nothing to do on board during nighttime, when all the others are working).
To compensate the 7 days, you will have longer offs, which is usually match with the port times of the ship. You can use these hours to visit the places you are docked at and explore the local places of interest.
Also, if you sign up for a full season/long contract, you will have 7-14 days off, when you can leave the vessel during the summer months, and return later.
Most of the routes are in Germany, Holland, France and the full length of the Danube, but thanks for the smaller channels, you don’t need to follow the rivers, and many of the big cities will be reachable:
Route: Trier – Wurzburg – Bamberg – Nuremberg – Passau – Melk
Reine and Germany
Route: Pinhao – Vega de Terran – Porto
St. Petersburg, Russia
Route: Mandrogi – Kizhi – Kuzino – Yaroslav - Moscow
BOARDING AND LODGING ON BOARD
Just as on the ocean it is vital to ensure the comfort and the satisfaction of the crew.
You will experience 3-5 main mealtimes a day, with small snack opportunities between them. During the main meals, you will have a daily menu with various dishes made by the chefs of the ship, and you can sit down and enjoy it in the crew restaurant, or in the main restaurant of the vessel before/after the opening time. Also, it is a routine that you can choose from the main buffets.
Cabins and accommodation:
On most of the ships you will find cabins designed for 2-3 crewmembers, with a bathroom included. These cabins are equipped with everything you need for the days, such as wardrobes, TV, AC and to rest in comfort.
LENGTH OF THE CONTRACTS
Most of the longships are active during the whole year except a 6-8-week maintenance period in January and February. Based on this tendency they usually offer the following 3 types of contracts for the crew:
Full length contracts, from the spring to autumn or to the next spring (7-10 months). You can apply for these during December/January/February and there is usually a big event or Job Fair where the cruise lines hire their new crew for the season.
Short contracts to cover the winter months between October and January, or to replace crew from the unique start day during the season until the end of the season.
Replacement contracts, which are 1-2 week long and designed to replace the crew on vacation. It is a great opportunity for non-experienced crew who would like to try the work on board.
The replacement and short contracts are available during the whole year, so you can apply in advance, complete the language assessment and sign up when the suitable position is opened.
TRAVEL TO YOUR SHIP
All the routes are in Europe so the travel is quite simple. Over this we will assist you in every step with route planning and assistance until you reach your ship.
After your successful interview, you will be informed about the boarding time and location. Per this information, you just need to book your ticket to the closes city, and we will provide you a route plan to the boarding place – than you just need to follow it and walk up to the ship on the gangway.
It is important to mention that you have to book/pay your own ticket, but many of the companies refund it for you, or provide you an overall sum to cover your travel expenses.
LIFE ON BOARD OF AN EDELWEISS/SCYLLA longship
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