Below Decks on the Caribbean Cruise Ships

Sometimes conversations are meant to happen…

Last weekend I made the long journey from my home in the south of Bali at Canggu, to Secret Bay at Gillimanuk on the western tip of the island, to do some scuba diving. It’s not that far, only about 130km, but the narrow road and all the heavy traffic coming over from Java slows you right down and it takes at least 3 hours to do it – sometimes 4…

Caribbean Cruise Ship_700Diving Secret Bay is all about the tides and a lot of time is spent chatting with the locals at the warung on the beach while you wait for the right conditions. By chance I remarked about the Cruise Ship Training College I had seen advertised on the way up and it turned out that Ketut Papet, who runs the warung, had an interesting story to tell of his 8 months on a cruise ship operating the Caribbean out of Miami.

Ketut Papet

Ketut Papet

Ketut, like most Balinese, is easy going and likes a joke – but as he told me his story of what it is like to work on the cruise ships I wondered how he could make light of it all.

So here’s the deal – US$800 a month when you are on the ship, but you have to get trained… which costs about $2400.

Plus he was going to be gone for months so he had to make sure that his family was covered and took out a loan for $5000 to cover all the costs.

Training completed, off he went to Miami – which was the first time he had left the island… On arrival, some two days later, he was met at the airport and taken straight on the cruise ship where he was given his uniform and put straight to work on his first 18 hour shift!

And so it was for the next 8 months – at work for 07.00 to start the breakfast preparations, an hour off between the end of that and the start of lunch preparation and the same again before dinner.

The hour off twice a day allowed the choice between a breath of fresh air up on deck, or a quick snooze down in the bowels of the ship where they were accommodated – most days he chose the latter!

Finally unable to do any more he returned home to Bali – do the math… 8 x $800 = $6400. Less the loan = $5000, which means that 7 days a week at 18 hours per day gives an hourly rate of about 35 cents an hour.

Sweet deal for those below decks on the Caribbean cruise ships…

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