Working at Sea – Is It for Me?

Monday Mantra

Unqualified … Unqualified … Unqualified …

Working at Sea – Is It for Me?

Could you be cut out for cruising career? Could I?

It was love at first sight for cruising and me. Immediately, I loved being aboard a massive ship that delivered me to exotic ports. I enjoyed the camaraderie, the cocktails every evening, and, best of all, dining so elegantly without an exorbitant bill at the end of each meal.

I was 19 years old the first time I cruised — unattached and unencumbered. So why did I not pursue a career at sea?

It’s not as though I never gave it thought, but I’m a realist and, aside from becoming one of the people you see vacuuming the halls at 3 a.m. when you’re staggering back to your cabin (not my dream job), I could never identify a position for which I’d be qualified. Among those I briefly considered and immediately dismissed:


  • Cabin Steward: They couldn’t pay me enough to straighten out cabins that look like my own after a few days at sea, and I wouldn’t stand for guests hiding the toiletries in order to get new ones to bring home. Especially the Bulgari. Out.
  • Cruise Director/Cruise Staff: My teeth are nowhere near white enough and I know I’d rarely be able to summon the enthusiasm I’d need to organize pool games or call bingo numbers. Out.
  • Guest Services: This seemed to have potential . . . until I was behind a woman at reception who became loud and abusive because SHE locked her money in her cabin safe and couldn’t remember the combination. That’s nonsense. Out.
  • Youth Organizer: Kids in packs scare the bejesus out of me. Out.
  • Casino Dealer: That ching-ching-ching sound of the slots would drive me crazy. Out.
  • Bartender: I drink wine, have no idea what’s in a Moscow Mule, and have no interest in finding out. Plus, I positively suck at magic tricks. Out.
  • Wait Staff: I’d be the type to spit in the soup if I really couldn’t stand a guest. Out.
  • DJ: Nobody likes the music I like and I simply won’t play the garbage that’s popular nowadays. Out.
  • Onboard Shops: This seemed like the best gig of all since shops are closed in port and I could go to the beach. But have you seen the frantic mass of shoppers who descend upon the shops on the final day at sea? No way I’m measuring out gold by the inch for that mob. Out.
  • Spa Technician: I can’t apply nail polish neatly when I’m sitting at my kitchen table, so doing so on a moving ship is inconceivable. Out.
  • Photographer: I really hate bothering people. Particularly when they’re eating. Out.
  • Pool Attendant. Too hot. Out.
  • Engine Room. Too hot and too loud. Out.


And so it seems I’m destined to remain shoreside until vacation time rolls around each year. But that’s okay: At least I have weekends off.

— Judi Cuervo

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Judi Cuervo is a New York City native who fell in love with cruising in 1976 during her first sailing aboard Carnival Cruises’ Mardi Gras. Twenty years later, she began her freelance cruise writing gig and, since that time, has covered mass market, ultra-premium, riverboat and expedition ships for regional, national and international publications as well as cruise websites.