There are certain things you learn from crew members once they become your client. No matter whether the ship employees are from Jamaica, Serbia or India, or whether the crew members are employed by Carnival, Princess or Royal Caribbean, they all tell similar stories of "ship life."
Crew members regularly tell us that they work in excess of 12 hours a day but are prohibited from recording the actual hours they work. Waiters can’t record their time spent showing up before meals to prepare their work stations, or attending meetings, or performing "side jobs." Once they have worked their maximum hours, they have to log out and then keep performing tasks such as polishing the silverware. Cruise lines don’t like paying overtime and the supervisor will get in trouble by the department heads if there is money spent on overtime wages for the crew.
We also hear the same stories over and over from ship employees around the world about the tremendous amount of effort they spend trying to get the cruise ships ready for United States Public Health ("USPH") Inspections. USPH inspections in theory are suppose to be unannounced, but in reality they are rarely a surprise. Cruise lines routinely hire people in a supervisory position from federal agencies like the USPHS, FBI and Coast Guard. In turn, their friends in the federal government often give the cruise lines a head’s up when the ship will be met by a team of USPH inspectors.
When a USPH inspection is about to happen, the food and beverage workers will literally work 18 to 24 hours on the days right before the cruise ship arrives in the port where the inspection will take place. There are certain types of baking pans and sheets used everyday for frying greasy food which are extremely difficult to get clean and probably won’t pass inspection. There are hundreds of these pot and pans which the crew try and clean in the pot wash room (top photo) but it’s difficult to get them all spotless. So what happens is that the galley cleaners are instructed to rack the pans and sheets in large trolleys and then hide the trolleys down in the crew quarters.
When the USPH inspection is truly a surprise, crew members tell us that there is often a mad scramble to dump everything dirty into boxes and cartons and then stash the stuff in crew members cabins and corridors on the bottom crew-only area on the bottom deck.
One crew members just sent me photos (right) taken of this practice. This was on the MSC Poesia during a USPH inspection in March 2011.
A bad USPH score is a kiss of death for a cruise ship F&B department head and his supervisors. Ships cut corners to pass inspection.
When the U.S. inspectors leave the ship, the dirty pans, plates, cups and kitchen equipment are returned to the galley. The ship cooks then get busy cooking for the next round of 3,000 passengers.
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Top – Kruzeri.com
Bottom – Anonymous