Working On Ship – Working in the Spa

Gemma is one of our Moderators here at Doris Visits. She now travels as a guest, the same as you and all of us here, but worked on a cruise ship as a ‘Steiner’ as they refer to themselves. These are the members of staff working in the Spa. So, if you want to work on board, like all the areas where work might be available, you have to train to be the best and be ticketed or certificated to have shown you are worthy. How does that all happen?

Gemma met her partner who worked in one for the shops on board, they now have 4 fantastic children. You could say she is our Manchester office, but Manchester does have a cruise terminal, although Liverpool is building a brand new £50m cruise terminal. Here is her story. Want to be a chat site moderator, contact us at [email protected]

“Even though I was content, I craved adventure! I longed to just pack a bag, book a flight, and go explore. However, like most young adults with the same desire; one predicament stood in my way, money! Then one day it struck me, I could go and work on a cruise ship! I would get paid to see the world with the security of a temporary home.

My mind was made up. Before I knew it, I’d filled out an application form, got a job interview and after a presentation; selling my skills as a beauty therapist, I got the job! The world was my oyster and I intended to collect a few pearls along the way!

Six weeks later I waved goodbye to my friends and family, as I boarded the London bound train, for my training course; with a suitcase in one hand and a purse with £500 in the other. On arrival, I excitedly jumped into a black cab and gave the address of the youth hostel, which would be my digs whilst training. My excitement soon turned into panic; reaching for my purse to pay, realising I’d left it on the train!

I still remember the taxis drivers rage, “what am I going to do now you can’t pay!” Followed by my frustration, “You! What about me! I’m stuck in London without a penny to my name!”  In the end, he softened up (he didn’t really have any other option) and I checked into the youth hostel. Upon check in I was given a long list of rules. It was a tad rough, so in fairness I understood the need for the iron rod ruling.

My roommate was lovely. She lent me £20 to see me through till my friend arrived a few days later, bearing £500 from my Nan. I paid back my roommate followed by the taxi driver (much to his surprise) I felt back in control again and ready to tackle my training. Luckily training ran without any glitches. Once completed, I received my first post on board the ‘Grand Princess.’ This time with a firm grip on my purse; I flew to Milan with a connection to Venice, where I would be meeting my new home for the next nine months.

As I looked up at the vast ship, it dawned on me; I was all alone! However, my wobble didn’t last very long. As anyone who has worked on a cruise ship will know; you are thrown into work straight away and must adapt very quickly! A quick tour of your cabin and staff quarters. A quick meeting with your manager and spa set up, then it’s all ‘open for business!’

I soon discovered the pressure for sales was huge; wages were a flat 7% commission, plus tips. If it was a quiet week and you didn’t sell, you didn’t earn! The cruise schedule consisted of ten days sailing around Europe. Stopping in various beautiful Mediterranean cities; Cannes, Sorrento, Istanbul, there was little time left at sea. Therefore, it was hard to convince customers to stay on board and have a spa treatment.

Each spa staff member was designated one treatment they would specialise in, mine was an inch loss wrap and micro currents. Inches would come off during the one treatment and then I finished the treatment by selling on a rather expensive care-home package to maintain results. Given my experience, I was in charge of a huge potential money earning column. Although, in my heart I knew the treatment just expelled excess water; so, I never did well at selling my treatment, much to my manager’s frustration.

I worked long hours, 8am till 8pm, with one and a half days off every tenth day. Even when the spa wasn’t busy we were kept busy in various locations around the ship giving ten min scalp massages, in the hope of finding more sales.

I lived for my days off, were I could disembark the ship and sight see the wonders of Europe. However, daily free time was spent mingling in the staff dorms or crew bar enjoying a tipple or two. Crew discos were plentiful and luckily, they used to always fall on the night before my day off, although even if they didn’t I’d usually stay until the end. With drinks, as cheap as $1.75 a pop it would have been rude not too; plus, I was young and could manage back then on less than 5 hours sleep! If it wasn’t the next day I was very good at getting a bout of sea sickness!”

To read more, jump onto her site. To join your favourite cruise chat site where she may also be, take a look here.

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