Friendships with Crew Members

One of the wonderful parts of the cruise experience is the high level of friendly service provided by the crew members.

Recently in a cruise chat room that I frequently visit, a poster wanted to know how it was that many other member often bond with the service staff of the ship. He said that he found this to be very unique, and couldn’t quite grasp becoming friendly with the service staff. There were lots of different answers to his question, but when one responder called the ships crew “servants” and implied that one would never fraternize with the “servants”. It got me thinking.When we cruise what exactly is our relationship with the crew members? Do I see them as servants? How do I treat them and how do they treat me?

Here are some of the answers I came up with:

Before I became a full time Mom I was in customer service for a computer chip company. The job description was to differentiate our company from other by a “go give” spirit in customer service. I considered my self a professional, not a servant.

So that is the way I look at and treat the crew on the the ships, as professionals. My family doctor is a professional physician, my bug man that come by the house once a month is a professional exterminator, the cruise ship waiter is a professional waiter. Part of his job is to help us enjoy our vacation, make everything easy for us , help us with selections ect. He’s a professional. The same with anyone else in the crew from the guy who sweeps the deck to the lady who cleans our room. They usually recieve comprehensive training, have much experience in order to be able do thier jobs, and peform outstanding work.

My attitude is to be friendly with-out interfereing with thier ability to do thier jobs. When traveling with our kids I think it is important to learn about different parts of the world and different cultures. When time allows I do like to engage the crew, often from all over the globe, in conversation about thier home land and different customs that they might have there.

There was a chapter in the book “Devils on the Deep Blue Sea” which is about he early days of cruising, that talks about a “class” system, a colonial style class system on some of the first cruise ships, with European officers managing Indonesian, South American, or Phillipino staff. I hate to think that this still might exist to some extent on some lines. I am true believer in the idea that “all people are created equal” so I treat every “professional” on a cruise ship with the same amount of respect.

I mentioned before that one poster said something to the effect that she found it distasteful to become too familiar with the “servants”. She and her husband prefer to be adrress as Mr. and Mrs. I found it hard to believe in this day and age that anyone whould look upon the crew members as servants. Yes, they are there to clean for you, bring you food, or keep you entertained, but I find the term servant to be sort of demeaning, and very archaic. I picture Lovie Howell sitting in her recliner while Gilligan brings her coconut drink and turning to Thurston and saying “You know when we get back we really have to get better servants.” Or Rose’s Mom on the Titanic saying “Rose, you really shouldn’t be talking to the servants.”
As far as forming friendships with the crew, there were some crew memebers like sky bartender Dorota from Poland that we really enjoyed friendly conversation with. She was a professional….encouraging my husband to try the Polish Vodka instead of the Stoli, refilling our club soda glasses no charge or making sure we had water to drink along with our drinks so we wouldn’t feel dehydrated in the morning, always making sure that there was extra ice in my DH’s Vodka. And we’d chat about things like the fact that she and her new husband were both working on the cruise togther, our kids who were back home….That sort of thing.

I find that interacting with the crew to be delightful, treat them like professionals and you’ll get professional service back.