Cruising is our vacation of choice. It's our own floating hotel. We can head out for a week and visit four or five countries without having to unpack but once. A lot of people take cruises for the ports, the entertainment, the food, or the activities on board. The reason we cruise has nothing to do with any of those things.
We cruise for the crew.
You may think working on a cruise ship could be somewhat glamorous. Travel the world, meet new people, have room and board paid. But the reality is a bit different. Crew members work up to 11.5 hours a day. Every single day. While they may get a couple hours off a week to go ashore, most of the time they are either working, changing their uniform for their next shift, eating, or sleeping. There isn't a lot of free time. A bar steward may finish off his long day by helping close down the bar at 2 AM and then have to turn around and be on wheelchair duty in the morning at 6:45 AM.
Over the course of our travels we've seen how very hard they work. We see how grumpy passengers treat them. We see how supervisors with an attitude treat them. We know how much money they make. Which is why we cruise for the crew.
And call ourselves the "have chocolate will travel" cruisers.
We bring chocolates and hand them out to the crew, going through at least one bag of chocolate a day. It took us a while to get a handle on how much to buy ahead of time. We've frequently used it up sooner than expected and have had to do a candy run in port. I was just thinking about it today. We've made candy runs to:
*Walmart in Ketchikan, Alaska, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, and Ft. Lauderdale, Florida
*Kmart on the Island of Kauai and on St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands
*Target in Hilo, on the Big Island of Hawaii and in Seattle, Washington
*CVS in San Francisco and Rite Aid in San Pedro, California
*A liquor store type in Aruba
Thanks to the chocolates we have crew members who remember us from the different ships. Just recently hubby had a crew member come up to him and say, "Hey, I remember you. You're the candy guy!" (Yep, from two years before!)
Some of the crew members hold a dear place in our hearts. When we are ready to travel, we check with them to see which ships they are working on and then choose those ships for our trips. We hang out with them in the area where they are working, take them out to eat ashore, we go to the beach with them, and sometimes go drinking with them. And bring them gifts from home.
And if we can't travel to see them? We send them care packages.
We love our crew.