After the recent, tragic Costa Concordia cruise ship disaster and the continual reminder that shortly will be the 100 year anniversary of the Titanic, you could be forgiven for thinking that cruise ship jobs sound more like a death sentence than a dream job.
The images of the Concordia disaster over the past week will almost certainly have put many people off cruising as a holiday and perhaps even more from considering a job on a cruise liner as a viable career choice.
It is shocking to believe that an incident like this could happen to a 21st century, ultra-advanced ship costing over £300 million pounds. When you consider that the Concordia was fitted with every conceivable state-of-the-art safety device and constructed inline with the most stringent Solas (Safety of Life at Sea) regulations for stability, strength and procedural safety measures (most notably evacuation), then you realise that this incident was almost certainly a result of human error.
The Real Role of a Crew Member
Whether it’s an entertainer, a bartender or a cabin steward on a cruise ship, the secondary but most important job of all for any and every employee on board is that of professional crewmember. As a crewmember, safety is drummed into you from the very moment you walk on to a ship for the first time, until you leave that ship at the end of your contract, six months later. Cruise lines invest heavily in safety and emergency training for all crew with mandatory crew drills and emergency simulations every week, all designed to ensure that crew are ready and prepared to handle situations like this.
This is not to say that significant improvements cannot be made to procedures and how crew are trained. But perhaps cruise line companies need to figure out how to replicate real-life emergency situations to assess how potential crew perform and react under duress? It is one thing knowing what to do in a situation and another being the type of person who can follow those procedures when there are 3,000+ very frightened passengers and an unstable ship.
Industry Track Record
Despite all of this and the negativity surrounding the industry right now, the fact remains that cruising is still statistically the safest form of transport in the travel industry and fortunately, disasters like the Concordia are very rare.
Over the past two decades, cruise lines have maintained the best safety record in the travel industry, while safely transporting over 65 million passengers and crew throughout the world.
Why Work On Cruise Ships?
Jobs on cruise ships offer some incredible opportunities, including the ability to get paid to travel the world (tax-free), room and board provided for and the opportunity to meet and work with people of all different nationalities. It can be an amazing, life-changing experience for the right people and this is the main reason why these jobs are always in such demand.
The Future of the Cruise Industry
The industry is likely to take a hit in the short-term. But long term I think it will be largely unaffected. Importantly, this incident will have a significant effect on raising the standards of safety and security on board even higher.
One can expect an overhaul of the rules and regulations for crew living and working on board. This could include banning or limiting the sale of alcohol on board to crewmembers to ensure that every single crewmember is 100% ready for action in the event of an emergency. We should also expect to see enhancements to safety procedures and new technology introduced on board to improve the evacuation process.
We should also expect to see a more thorough on board training programme for crew and better pre-screening of crew applicants to ensure that every single crewmember working on board a cruise ship can actually cope with the pressure of a real-life emergency situation like the one we have just witnessed with the catastrophic Concordia.