Cruise Crews Enter Epic Era

Every time we have been on a cruise, we’ve made friends with crew members. Sometimes, we exchange contact information, promising to keep in touch. Almost always, when we disembark, it’s the last we see of each other.

One of our new friends invited us to visit him in Turkey. Maybe we will. Another said we would be welcome in Trinidad. Maybe they mean it; maybe they’re just being nice, in the spirit of the moment. But none of them has ever shown us what crew quarters are like on a ship (naturally), much less given us much in the way of insight of what’s behind the doors marked “Crew Only.”

Yesterday, far from a stateroom, we gained some insight.

It came from a website called Cruisemates. It’s an article — two actually — written by editor Paul Motter, and it’s fascinating stuff. He once worked on a cruise ship and, on a press tour just over a month ago, he was given a tour of crew quarters on the Norwegian Epic.

What astounded him the most is that 85% of the crew on the Epic live in single cabins, with their own bathrooms. To appreciate this, Motter points out in a second article that as one of the “privileged cruise staff” on his first contract, a couple of decades ago, he was fortunate to live alone, sans toilet and shower. In fact, he said all such cabins were equipped with stools so that residents could…er, well, reach the sink when nature called in the middle of the night.

On the Epic, crew members have a large recreation area (ping-pong, air hockey) with a DJ booth and dance floor, accompanied by state-of-the-art sound. They have a large-screen projection TV and hundreds of DVD movies, an Internet cafe with 20 work stations, a gym that mirrored what the passengers have, crew cabins on every passenger deck and a private swimming pool.

In his words, the Epic crew people have it made. Not that those on other ships face the primitive situation he did 20 years ago, because clearly they don’t. Motter points out that working on a cruise ship “ends up being one of the most memorable things a person can ever do” and there’s nothing quite like it.

And from all this ex-crew member saw and heard, as working on ships goes, there’s nothing quite like the Epic.

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