TIDINESS is a must, especially on a cruise ship
It is a sad fact that most of us think about housekeeping as a secondary department, where anyone can work. This is wrong because without the professional work of the HK, the circumstances would become unendurable in a matter of hours – imagine it with 5000 people on board.
In case of a cruise ship, the cleanness is critical and must be ensured. In this team we can find duties for the beginner and experienced crewmembers as well. Let’s see them more detailed:
DUTIES OF A HK CREWMEMBER
In the HK you will always have your designated area of the ship, which you need to ,take care about during your shift. The area depends on your experience, to make sure that you can complete your tasks flawlessly.
These areas can be the internal corridors, open decks, restaurants, buffets, and every square meter of the vessel, except the technical areas.
The HK is responsible for the guest and crew areas and corridors, to prevent accidents
Responsible for the tidiness of the restaurants and buffets to ensure the sanitation standards
The open deck, the pools, and similar areas
The supervision of the guest and staff cabins on board.
DUTIES AT EACH LOCATION
Guests and crew corridors
The corridor supervision is a typical job for the beginner team members who just start their career on board (just as the officer/staff mess for the F&B). In these areas, the main focus is the accident prevention: Spilled drinks, water on the floor, food – everyday things which can make the marble floors slippery, especially on board of a moving vessel.
Of course, all of the tools are provided to do your jobs, and there are special items also, such as the spill kits which are designed to clean up liquids in seconds.
Over the floor, it is an important duty to take care of the bathrooms and similar areas to reach the sanitation standards.
Based on this we are talking about thousands of square meters, but you have to take care about a few meters only (your area), which is easily manageable.
Just as the corridors, the open deck area must be maintained as well. The main issues here are the sun beds, towels, cups, glasses, and small items left around by the guests. As a crewmember, you must collect these and make sure the area is ready for the new guests.
Staff and Officer Cabins
Just as in a land hotel, the comfort of the cabins is the foundation of the hospitality service. According to this, all the crew must be trained perfectly before they start to work in the guests' cabins. For that, the staff and officer cabins are a great opportunity, because you can practice the methods you will need when you start to work with guests cabins and also get used to the speed which is essential to complete the general cleaning at the embarkation days.
Also, in these cabins, you will work around someone else’s belongings, which is a sensitive topic when you work in the guest cabins.
When you gained the needed experience, you will get your designated cabins to work in, with your name on the walls, so the guests will know you by your name and think about you as their host, not only someone who takes care about the cabin.
It will make a big difference in your private tips, because as excellent service you provide for the guests, as friendly you are with them, will raise the tips they will leave directly for you.
Just as the corridors, the restaurants and buffet’s tidiness must be ensured by the HK. Here you will put more attention on the sanitation, but you don’t have to take care about the buffet tables, or anything in connection with un-served food.
It is important to mention that most of the cruise lines handle the laundry as a different department, based on the fact that their work circumstances are different, and they have to suit many fire and general safety standard with their equipment.
Just as the other departments you will work 10-11 hours a day divided by break times. The corridor teams starts early in the morning, followed by the cabin team who start to work after the guests left the vessel.
At the HK you will have nightshifts also, when you take care about the public areas of the ship, with special equipment as the floor polishers which would be difficult to operate during daytime.
Based on the fact that these cruise ships never stops, you have to work seven days every week. For the first time it sounds a lot, but actually there is no sense to have a full days off (nothing to do on board during nighttime, when all the others are working).
To compensate the 7 days, you will have half day-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, explore the beaches, and the local places of interest.
EXPERIENCE YOU NEED
The experience requirements are different in case of every cruise lines, so you will find a place where you can start your career.
Without experience you can start at 3-4 star cruise lines, where you can learn all the knowledge to be a catering professional, and build your career.
You can apply for 5 star cruise lines also, if you have similar experience, but it must be a ship experience, or land experience gained in 5 star hotels. The reason is that you have to know the standards when you step onboard.
Just as in the other departments you will attend on different trainings, where you will learn safety, HACCP, and practical methods which will be a big advantage later on.
The exact language requirements are depend of each vessel and cruise lines, and based on the typical nationality of the guests. Luckily most of the cruise lines are designed to serve American guests, so the proper English knowledge will be essential. You must speak English at least on a conversational (B) level, and able to understand complex sentences/orders, and answer. Your language skills will be assessed during the application process, to make sure that you won’t face with difficulties on board, plus you have to complete an independent test (Marlins) according to the maritime law.
These requirements are the similar for each position, so there is no chance to step on board with Basic English. The main reason, that you might be able to complete your duties without communication, but you will have secondary/ and safety duties, where the proper communication is mandatory.
SALARIES IN THE HK TEAM
On board of a cruise ship you can earn 950-1200USD each month, without accommodation, food and similar costs – which is a big advantage if we compare with the land positions, where you can lose the 70% of your income because of the accommodation, food, transportation and utility costs.
Your exact salary depends on the company you work for, but most of the time you can calculate with a basic salary in positions where you don’t have to work with the guest cabins, and calculate with a minimal base salary, but private tipping and mandatory gratuity while working with the guest cabins (which is overall higher than the base salary)
In the HK team there are many different levels and promotion opportunities in the cabin and non-cabin groups as well. You can reach floor/area supervisor and similar positions where your salary is equal with the higher responsibility.
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