Thursday, 24 March 2011

Incompetent Fools

I’ll make this story fairly short and skip the implicit details.

I had a meeting with the HR manager a couple weeks ago (procedure, of course) about why I’m quitting and leaving the company. It felt like an argument more than anything in regards to my reasoning behind my decisions. Like he just wouldn’t understand that I think this company is full of incompetent fools.
He then went on to explain to me the procedure of leaving and I made sure to clarify with him (before booking my plane ticket home) that I wasn’t going to have any problems with customs and  border patrol or ship contracts in staying for a few days in Miami before flying out (simply because the tickets were so much less expensive mid week). Yes, yes, everything is fine, he says.

Turns out it’s not so fine. Turns out that as policy states for me quitting and deciding not to complete my contract I’m obligated to fly out the same day and be safeguarded (in other words, taken by a customs agent to the airport to make sure I get on my plane).

But of course, I only learn this after I’ve spent hundreds on my flight and accommodations in Miami.

So NOW, I not only have to endure the costs of the flight I’ve already spent money on (which I agreed to as a consequence of leaving before the end of my contact), but another flight that the company has purchased for me because I’m required to leave that very same day.

Nowhere in my contract does it state this. Nowhere in my contract does it imply I need to fly out the same day that I disembark the ship. An advocate for company policy, who said I had to get the information verbally from him and nowhere else,  whose responsibility it is to inform crew of this information and be up to date on Customs and Border Patrol policy, told me I was allowed to fly out of America 3 days later because I’m a Canadian citizen.

I think the company is now liable for those costs. Do you agree?

Friday, 18 March 2011

It's Cheap Ship Week

Over the past decade or more, cruises have become a lot less expensive. In fact, at the point it is now, it is more affordable for a retired couple to cruise all year long than pay to stay in a retirement home. I’m not one to say that social class has an effect on who people are as individuals and I definitely don’t think financial success determines the amount of respect one should garner, however, it speaks volumes for behavior when in an environment where “spoiling” yourself is a norm.

As crew, when people come on holiday, we observe them as individuals prepared to lather themselves in luxury. Now, cruises appear to be all inclusive, but they are not. You pay one price, you get a cabin and food. If you have a few more cruises under your belt, you might get a few more benefits such as laundry and internet time, but for the most part you can guarantee the amount you paid for a cruise is only about half (minimum) of what you can expect to spend in total. I’m not evening talk shopping and tours, I mean basics. Beverages (alcoholic or non-alcoholic), the odd latte, tipping your room steward and waiter, bottles of water for going ashore, internet time. No matter what angle you look at it from, if you come cruising for a holiday, you’re putting out a pretty penny.
Now, when prices for cruises were high, companies still chose to nickel and dime everyone. All the same charges applied. But the people were different. The prices determined that they  were people who could very much afford to be on holiday. People who don’t live paycheck to paycheck, or who have at least saved frugally so they could spend it all on their holiday, prepared for the extra expenses.

What we have now is people who can barely afford the cruise. They come on unknowing of the costs required. They get stressed about money. They get angry at the company for charging on such silly like things such as orange juice. They see workers as part of the company and (while not mindfully, but emotionally) hold them responsible for the company’s lack of initiative to provide extras at no cost. And believe me, this is the fastest way to make a crew member give you the bare minimum in service. The next thing you know, they’re stressed, they dislike the company, and they think the employees are useless and unpleasant. Sounds like a horrible vacation to me, too. Not to mention, that with the decrease in cruise charges, the quality of everything has begun to erode (food, entertainment and staff budgets to name a few areas). 

So, yes, I blame the cruise line. No, I don’t think people who are less financially fortunate are more rude or disrespectful. Yes, I do believe that people who can’t really afford to cruise should have the pleasure of what could be a fantastic holiday on board the vessel.

All I’m saying, is that come that first formal night, when I look around the ship and see that over half of the passengers are dressed in dark denim blue jeans, or a skirt so short the only thing you can look at is the cellulite shaking, I know there was a big sale on this cruise, the complaints are soon going to come flying in the door, the scores are going to be low, and it’s going to be a rough week for me and the rest of the gang.

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Guess What?

Guess What?

I’m done.

That’s right. I’m coming back to Canada! (For a little while, at least.)

I remember when I first joined ships I’d met this one comedian, and watched his show on the Star Princess and how the Deputy hosted the show (i.e., Introductions and endings.) This was at a time when the thought of hosting Trivia made me nervous and just holding a microphone made my hand shake. I’ve done public speaking since I was a child, but it’s a whole different ball game when you are getting paid to host something and the audience expects you to be a professional. Not nervous. Completely confident. Entertaining! Well, just over a year later, I actually got to get on stage and host this same comedian’s show. A crowd of about 400 (small compared to normal) and after a professional performer (who I know quite well after working with him for just over a year), and I walked on stage completely calm, not a sight of nerves, and then walked off like nothing even happened.

Now that’s what I call achievement.

While, yes, I found this last year overly frustrating for having a job where I get paid to play games and host parties, and by-golly, I’m ready for a change (not to mention, could spend hours bitching about the mismanagement), I look back now and realize it really was another point in my life where I really was meant to be where I was.

I still don’t know where all these random skills and assets that I’ve picked up along the way will take me, but it’s beginning to look like something really fun and exciting.

Here I go, beginning another chapter in my life – and hopefully one that provides more time for writing and blogging as I see fit (God, I’ve missed it!).  I’ve got some interesting ones I want to post after I leave the company, so stay tuned to get a gossipy read on life at sea.

Where to next? David and I are going to be enjoying re-connecting with our child inside by spending a few days in Disney World, Orlando; then we are off to the North West to enjoy a ski trip or two; then a 2-3 week cross-USA road trip to have one last little adventure before settling down in North America for what could be a couple years before it’s back to school for me.

So stick around, folks! My aim is to keep you posted every step of the way.