Cruise Ship Crew Confessions

by Adam

Room stewards, waiters, guest services, and shore excursion staff spill their secrets on the dumbest guest interactions at sea:

Room Steward Confessions – One room steward told me he couldn’t believe how often this one happens. Like most stewards, he waits for his passengers to leave for dinner before he enters to refresh the linens and turn down the bed. But some nights the people never leave, so before he quits for the night he makes a point of checking in to see if they need anything. When they answer the door he says:“I’m just about to head downstairs, so do you mind if I come in and clean up?” To which he has gotten the response, “Oh, is your shower broken? …. Um sure, you can use ours.”

Another room steward has been asked if he could fix the microwave in the cabin, only to have the guest point to the room safe, which has a metal door and a numbered keypad. Then there are the guests who know what a safe looks like – but when they can’t lock it, rather than reading the simple instructions on how to set a combination they ask the room steward “What’s the combination for the safe?” Why do they think the safe is there in the first place?

Room stewards often get this question: “Is that salt water in the toilets?” The real answer is “no,” but the funnier reply is, “I don’t know, I never tasted it.” The logical response that’s never uttered is “Why do you want to know?”

If you say “none of the clothes I packed fit me anymore,” the best room stewards are always ready with “it’s the humidity in the Caribbean, it shrinks everything.” It isn’t that you gained five pounds.

Waiters – They are always asked if the fish is fresh — but in truth almost all fish on cruise ships and even land-based restaurants comes frozen because you can’t keep fish truly fresh for more than a few hours. But invariably another passenger will reply for the waiter, “Of course it’s fresh, we’re on a boat!”

Shore Excursions – Shore tour managers get some of the silliest questions, like “Will I need my bathing suit?” for a snorkel tour. A surprisingly common one is, “Do you allow water skiing off the back of the boat?” Even if he could get started a professional skier might manage to stay up for a few minutes but once he fell down it would take the cruise ship about two miles and 30 minutes to make a U-turn and pick him up again. One shore excursion manager was asked why ancient ruins are always found “underground” (because any settlements not hidden away have been ransacked over the years). One tour guide at the Acropolis in Athens said he has been asked if any local sects still worship Apollo.

Guest Services The workers at guest services, also known as the purser’s desk, get the most abuse, because that is where people bring complaints. Far too many angry passengers bring them ship’s brochures containing photos of staterooms taken with a fish-eye lens — which makes them appear much bigger than in real life. They expected a much larger room, despite the fact that exact room sizes are always given in cruise brochures. Some people want to switch to a different room because all they can see is a parking lot and they bought an “ocean-view.” In fact, “which side of the ship is best” for any given cruise is one of the most common questions heard by travel agents. There is no easy answer, because a ship can dock on either side and it depends on a number of factors that can change at any time. Some people will point out a certain activity on the ship’s daily schedule and ask, “It says it takes place on Deck Five Forward, but which Deck Five is “forward?” Then there is “I know I’m on deck five, but which way is forward?” The trick is to look out the window and see which way the water is flowing.

Courtesy of Fox News and Paul Motter, editor of, an online cruise guide. Follow him on Twitter @cruisemates.

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