I’m going to let my special friend David Kirkland handle this. After a decade on cruise ships as a senior officer, David is the person with insider knowledge of how to properly interact with the crew.

Instead, you should focus on getting to know the regular staff and crew, those members of the ship’s company who are social and who will not try to ‘hide’ from you. Such crew members include your cabin steward/ess, waiters, bus boys, bartenders, shop staff, even the deck guys cleaning the side of the ship. There are hundreds of such people and they can definitely offer far more valuable advice and recommendations than the three listed above (ed. note: Captain, Cruise Director, Hotel Manager). To be honest, the lower you go in terms of the ship’s managerial hierarchy, the more down-to-earth and useful will be the interactions.

These regular crew members do not have the cruise line’s revenues or profits as their main motivation for working or even speaking to passengers. Sure, they want to help the company be successful, but in the end, that doesn’t dictate every single word that they speak.

Perhaps you want some recommendations for what to do in each port of call. Who would know the best places to visit or where to find the most pristine and secret beaches? What are the ‘must-sees’ and ‘must-dos’ for first time visitors or those who have been a dozen times? At first, you might think that the on board Tour Office is a good place to start, and they certainly will have a wealth of knowledge. However, keep in mind that any recommendations or suggestions they offer will be designed to make you book a tour with them. Therefore, you will not actually be receiving the most objective and honest advice.
Would you rely on the Captain, Cruise Director or Hotel Manager – the three busiest officers, none of whom even leave the ship on port days? That does not sound very reasonable. Again, why not rely on the hundreds of regular crew members who enjoy hours of free time in every port. In addition, many crew members have been working on the same itinerary for weeks, months or even years, becoming true experts about the places you will visit.

The staff who work in the on board shops and in the ship’s casinos don’t even work at all during port days due to laws that prevent those facilities from being open. As a result, they get to spend every single port day off the ship, exploring and discovering the best places to visit. Just ask one or two of them for some recommendations and they could provide you with a long list of places and activities based upon your interests.

Over the years, I have spoken to hundreds of guests who told me that they had a wonderful day in port because of a recommendation that a crew member gave. For many of the ship’s crew, their job is a once in a lifetime opportunity for them to earn good money and travel the world. As a result, they take advantage of every minute of free time they have, wanting to make the most of their visits to such exotic and rewarding destinations. After all, they will most likely never visit these places again once their careers are over. Let their enthusiasm and experience become your guide. They have no reason to lead you astray, especially since you will be back on board later in the day and know exactly where to find them! The assistance you will receive from these crew members is the most genuine and reliable available.

This theory works for more than just finding out where to go in each port. Crew members can sometimes provide guests with crew internet and phone cards (allowing you to save up to 75% on the rates charged to passengers), special souvenirs (such as ship’s items that only certain crew have access to and which are not sold in the shops) and a whole wealth of information on where to find the best of the best on board. Build some friendships with the regular crew members and you are bound to benefit.

In the end, while it might be an interesting topic of conversation to say that you met the Captain, he can do very little for you, except to pose for a nice photograph. Getting to know those crew members whose motivations are much more similar to your own will prove to automatically add infinite value to your cruise vacation.

Thanks David, great advice as always. For more great tips check out David’s “Intelligent Cruiser” package now: Click Here!

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Filed Under: Ask the Cruise Dork

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