Cruise holidays: Ship crew member reveals what staff really think on disembarkation day

Cruise ship holidaymakers enjoy being looked after by crew during their trip. Passengers can relax and indulge while on the ship while the staff are hard at work. But what’s it like for the staff themselves? What do they think of these tourists?

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A former cruise ship crew member has revealed what really goes through their minds on disembarkation day when passengers leave the ship.

Sam Catling shared the insight in his 2020 book Seems Like Smooth Sailing.

He explained that it’s only when passengers leave that crew can have some time to themselves so they’re eager for everyone to leave as quickly as possible.

“It’s an early start for debark as there is a lot of people traffic to manage and a lot of questions and complaints to assist with,” he wrote.

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Cruise: Sam Catling shared the insight in his 2020 book Seems Like Smooth Sailing (Image: Getty Images)Cruise: “In the back of your mind is a voice repeating the phrase, ‘Get off get off get off…’” (Image: Getty Images)

“Being that the job on-board is seven days a week, the window of opportunity to go shore and have some proper you time is situated between the old guests leaving and new guests arriving.

“So when the old guests are trudging down the corridor with their luggage saying goodbye to everyone, stopping and starting to make sure they have everything, in the back of your mind is a voice repeating the phrase, ‘Get off get off get off…’

“This internal mantra goes undetected for the most part and is what motivates the crew’s teamwork on these mornings.

“The quicker the crew pull together as a team and get the guests disembarked the more time we would have off that day.”

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Catling also went into detail about how his relationship with passengers shifted over the years.

“In my early days of cruising a week went a lot slower as everything was still new to me, and during that time I forged a lot of connections with the passengers,” he explained.

“When it was the end of their holiday I actually felt quite sad to see some of them go.

“Every cruise ended with people crying as they said goodbye to those who they had bonded with.

Cruise: “I forged a lot of connections with the passengers,” said Catling (Image: Getty Images)

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“Holiday romances were now coming to an end with the individuals promising to stay in touch which we all know never happens.

“All this emotion up in in the air was by no means a one-off, it was weekly.

“As the weeks went by from the start of my first contract, I gradually developed a thicker skin and I began to put up an emotional brick wall.

“No longer did I get choked up whiners guests had to leave, instead, I learnt to accept that there were no goodbyes really, as there would be another 1000+ guests coming to replace them later on that day.”

In his book, Catling also revealed there’s a common joke that you should think twice about making on a cruise.

Catling wrote: “On formal night one custom is that guests will queue up around the block to meet the captain and have a photo taken with him. It’s not an obligation by any means more a compulsion.

Trending Cruise: “I gradually developed a thicker skin and I began to put up an emotional brick wall” (Image: Getty Images)

“They figure it’s something they may as well so just so they can say they met him or her, and also because most of them can’t wait to ask their really funny question: ‘Wait, if you’re here who’s driving the ship?’

“Which is funny the first time you hear it but once you hear it an average twenty time a cruise it wears a little thin… I made every effort to make it look as though it was one of those stories that naturally caught me off guard and incited genuine laughter but inside I would be fuming.”

Former cruise ship crew member Paul shared another example of what cruise holidaymakers should never do.

“I wish I could tell passengers not to buy any photos of themselves on board. Way too pricey!” Paul told

“Also to tell them not to play the casino slot machines. They set the payouts so low that hardly anybody wins a jackpot. And the lines can get away with it because we are in International Waters.”