What is it Like to Work on a Cruise Ship? Ashley P Travels Reveals All

Ashley from Ashley P Travels, guest interviews on the podcast today answering your questions on “what is it like to work on a cruise ship?”

Ashley spent several years working on a cruise ship and in this episode she reveals what it’s really like to live a travel life and work on a cruise ship, insider tips on exploring port cities (while working!) and tells stories from her trips while not on the ship. She also gives us the inside scoop on how to work on a cruise ship, the best cruise excursions, dining on the boat, and finally solves the mystery of that smell in the cabin bathroom.

Traveling While Working on a Cruise Ship ft. Ashley P Travels-Episode Transcript

4 (55s):
Welcome to this week’s episode of the Travel Squad podcast. Today, we have a very special guest Ashley P. We initially connected with Ashley in December when we were a guest on her podcast.

3 (1m 7s):
Ashley is the host of Ashley P Travels, a new trouble podcast that reveals what it’s S really like to live a travel life and work on a cruise ship.

1 (1m 16s):
Ashley spent several years working on a cruise ship, exploring port cities while working and Traveling While she was not on the ship

3 (1m 23s):
On her podcast. She has featured some very interesting and very funny stories from fellow crew members.

1 (1m 29s):
And she brings some of these stories to the episode. She shares some of the juiciest behind the scenes secrets, like who is hooking up with who?

2 (1m 38s):
And she even reveals what the smell in the bathroom is because what would a Travel Squad Podcast episode be? If we didn’t talk about the bathrooms, if you have ever cruised, you know exactly what smell we’re talking about.

4 (1m 51s):
I definitely know exactly what smell we’re talking about here. And if you haven’t cruised go on a cruise and you will know exactly what we are talking about. And with that, let’s welcome Ashley to the Travel Squad Podcast.

1 (2m 2s):
Hello,

3 (2m 3s):
Ashley. It’s so good to talk to you again. Thank you so much for joining the Travel Squad Podcast.

6 (2m 7s):
Ah, thank you so much for having me. I really appreciate it. Last time we spoke, you were a guest on mine and I love that it’s coming full circle.

4 (2m 15s):
Yes, we’re so happy to have you on our end and as a guest on the Travel Squad Podcast. So again, thanks so much for joining us.

3 (2m 23s):
It’s been a couple of weeks since we talked and we got to learn a little bit about your very interesting travel history, but we’re really, really excited to have you on today because I know you have so much more to tell about your life on a cruise ship and a lot of the travels that you did outside of your cruise life. So I can’t wait to get into this interview.

6 (2m 41s):
Well, there is probably more than enough for an episode, so I’ll try to keep it limited, but yeah, hopefully your listeners will find it interesting and entertaining and all the things

4 (2m 51s):
And don’t hold back. If there’s some juicy details of things that have happened on the ships, share them in detailed vivid detail in regards to your own personal travel off the ship, too. No doubt, but from what I hear from listening to several of your episodes and what I know of just of the industry, there’s some juicy details of a cabin life amongst the crew on those ships. So we’re waiting for you to spill the beans on that.

6 (3m 16s):
Without a doubt, there are plenty of beans here.

2 (3m 19s):
Well, I, for 1:00 AM super excited to hear all about cruise ship life. You know, I’ve mentioned this on your podcast is that I wish that I knew that I could work on a cruise ship when I was in my early twenties, trying to figure stuff out. And so I’m going to live vicariously through you and all these fun stories.

6 (3m 36s):
Okay. Deal.

3 (3m 37s):
We actually have an episode on cruising. It’s one of our very first episodes and we all love cruising and that’s actually one of our most popular episodes even today. So continuing that though, but the insider scoop on it. I just want to start with first question. How did you start working on a cruise ship?

6 (3m 54s):
Well, I just want to say, I have listened to that episode and is very accurate. I will say you guys cover a lot. So you did it, you did a great job, but one of the things that I talk about on my podcast when it comes to ship life is that there’s so much that’s unknown. And even if you cruise a lot, even if you maybe have gotten close to crew members on the ship and chatted them up and tried to, you know, get a little information out of them, you still can never really know until you’re immersed in it. So there is a totally different world to being a cruise ship crew member. And I equated a lot to be like being in the military. Like it kind of becomes this family.

6 (4m 34s):
Whereas even if I were to meet someone on a totally different cruise line on another side of the world, if you immediately find the connection that you worked on ships, you have so much in common. So it’s quite a family and it’s definitely something that is one of the highlights in my life. So it’s hard for that to answer your question. I got on ships in January, 2013. It was right after I had graduated college to go back a little bit further than that. I graduated high school in 2005, immediately read at a high school, went to college of Charleston, South Carolina, and did not find a major that I resonated with. Couldn’t figure out what I want to do with my life and kind of got sick of doing the gen ed, like let my college lead me sort of thing.

6 (5m 21s):
So I went on a trip with my best friend to LA for her 21st birthday instantly fell in love with it. And like the week that we were there and decided to move out to LA for a year, well, I decided to move out to LA. I didn’t know it was just going to be a year, but so much happened in that year. And I really grew up and that was when I was 20. And when I came back, finished college, I got a fashion marketing and management degree and I was career services. Just told them, you know, I don’t know what I want to do with my life, but I know that I want to travel. So that’s my only prerequisite for jobs that I may get. So a couple days later, or it might’ve been weeks, I don’t exactly know, but I got an email from career services with this cool opportunity to go travel the world and work on cruise ships and sell jewelry.

6 (6m 12s):
Now, again, I had a fashion marketing degree, but I had never done anything with the jewelry industry. So I was like, I don’t even know if I could get this job. Like I know nothing about jewelry. I mean, my idea of like a nice watch was like a Michael Kors. And like, I’m absolutely not downplaying that because I still think they’re super nice, but like my biggest sale working on ships for a watch was like $74,000. So looking back on it now it’s crazy. Right? So I filled out this application, submitted, it, got his guy interview and I got the job in three weeks later after getting my passport and a $700 medical exam that you have to have to work on board.

3 (6m 50s):
Was it 700 that you had to pay for?

6 (6m 53s):
Yes. So one of the prerequisites to working on ships is that you have to purchase your own medical exam. Now the one that I got, because I hadn’t been in the industry, it was more expensive because I didn’t know that there were certain places that actually like, sort of catered to doing cruise ship medical exams, and you can get them for like $200. But I just went to like my local doctor and had a list of tests that they had to do. And it totaled to like 700 without insurance. Well, that’s a learning experience. Oh yeah. Oh yeah. So if you ever want to work on ships, fly down to Fort Lauderdale or one of the cruise ship ports. And there are doctors that are in those ports that specifically cater to medical exams for crew, and they even know like which exam you need for which cruise line and stuff like that.

6 (7m 37s):
It’s all crazy things. I learned way too late.

2 (7m 40s):
We quickly though back up to that $74,000 watch Kind of watch because you know what, Michael Kors is the nicest watch that I own. So I feel you on that one, but like what kind of watches are they, but like brand-wise and do you get commission for selling that damn you are pedaling watches on that cruise.

6 (8m 2s):
Yes. So absolutely you make permission and I’ll give you an example. The job that I did was to do presentations and actually, I want to say that you guys mentioned this in one of your episodes or in your cruise ship episode, that when you’re going through the cruise program of like what to do the next day, every single Caribbean cruise on the first seat day before you hit a port, there’s one of the featured events, which is like a shopping show or shopping talk. Do you remember that?

3 (8m 31s):
Yeah. I remember going to some of those,

6 (8m 33s):
So that was what I hosted. So I was the person on stage doing that presentation.

2 (8m 37s):
Oh wow.

6 (8m 38s):
So I would give these sales pitches about what stores to go to in which of the ports and how to plan your day things about getting on and off the ship, you know, educating people on like tips and tricks around the shit, but really it was to get them once they get off the ship into those stores that I have contracts and you make commission on the sales. And the cool thing is you actually make commission on the sales from your ship, regardless of whether they know you or not. So if anybody goes in that store and every buddy has asked what shift they’re on, if they were from your ship, you make commission. So it was glorious.

4 (9m 13s):
Let me ask you a question. Do you feel like you got lucky to get that position as your first gig getting onto a cruise ship? Because from what I hear, you know, those type of gigs or when you do the hosting or obviously not cruise director level, but those higher up positions from what I understand are really, really hard to get.

6 (9m 32s):
So I love that you asked that question because when I met with career services, I actually got two emails. I got one email about a position that was for jewelry sales that was onboard the ship. It was third-party parent company called dartboard. And they’re the ones that supply all the gift shop material and the jewelry and the watches on board. And they hire sales associates. Right? So if you’re walking around, do you want to buy something? I got turned down from that position within 24 hours because I didn’t have jewelry expertise. Well then fast forward to me getting the port shopping guide position, it was the biggest blessing as far as getting on ships because the position on board had a standard salary and then you’d make a little commission if they hit targets, but that all depended on the itinerary that you were on.

6 (10m 18s):
So it wasn’t really in your control. And then the position that I made was a management position, a department of one, you basically run your own business on board and the pay was equivalent to someone like the cruise director or the hotel director. And it was significantly better than

2 (10m 37s):
At those types of levels that you’re working on the ship. Do you get your own room or are you still bunking with other people and how many people are like in a room if you have to bunk with others?

6 (10m 46s):
So I, as an associate was given a shared room and I was just like any other crew member I shared with the people from the spa and people from the gift shops, or sometimes it was the cruise staff. It was really just because I was the only associate as a port shopping. I’d like, there wasn’t anyone else in my position. I just got thrown in where there’s an extra space. So that was a bunk bedroom. I had one roommate and it was size of a shoe box. You had a little tiny, like 18 inch wide closet, all your suitcases, one under the beds. And yeah, it was pretty tight. And your contract a lot of times depended on your relationship with your, with your roommate in that situation, because you do spend a lot of time together. And as I’m sure you’ve had roommates before, not everyone lives the same, especially when you’re from different cultures and countries and all that.

6 (11m 34s):
So it was tough at times. And then as I was promoted, I was given a manager cabin, which is different on every ship, depending on how old the ship is. Funny fact, hopefully, you know, cruise lines get mad at me for this, but I think it kind of goes without saying that the bigger the ship, the smaller the crew rooms, I did not know

2 (11m 51s):
That I knows what to say. I wouldn’t thought that. Yeah. Interesting.

6 (11m 55s):
Yeah. So they basically, when they make a shit bigger, they have to strip down the size of the crew cabins to put more venues and more guests cabins so that they save on square footage. That way

2 (12m 5s):
Are your rooms. And I’m so sorry if I’m asking 20 questions, but this is fascinating to me. So like, are your rooms the bottom steerage? Are you guys like more in the middle? Like, like where do they put you guys?

6 (12m 18s):
So if you can imagine, like, if you’re looking at the side of the ship, like an x-ray basically like the edges of the ship. So like going from like the front tip where the bridges like down and then on the bottom of the ship and then back up the back of the

2 (12m 32s):
Ship. Interesting.

6 (12m 33s):
So when you’re on board as a guest, you’re in the middle shell, so everything’s connected and you’d never have any crew cabins in between.

1 (12m 42s):
So since you were a port guide, when you guys were sailing, what did you do during that time?

6 (12m 48s):
So my position was a little unique in that when I was in the ports, 90% of the time I was working. So I would do the presentations on board and I would have little events like shopping parties or, you know, VIP special sales or whatever that were out in the ports, in the specific stores. So I was always working in port, which was totally fine expected. I knew that before I got on board and most crew members are going to have more time off import, whereas I had more time off on the ship. So we were pretty backwards as far as schedules go. But again, that’s pretty unique to port shopping guides. There were not any other positions that work in the port outside of the ship

2 (13m 29s):
When they say, Hey, Ashley, we want you for a six month contract in the Caribbean. So does that mean for six months? You’re on the exact same route. Like, and you know, in my experience like the cruise that I did was seven days. So like just seven days of the same thing, get back to pour and then do another seven days, get back to port and other seven days, you know what I mean for six months? Or do you just do a region and for six months it’s different each time.

6 (13m 57s):
So there, there are two answers to that. And I’ll give you the sort of the general crew answer. And then, because my position again is sort of unique. I’ll give you my side of it too. But for general crew, you sign onto a ship. Now the ships don’t always stay in the same part of the world. So in cruising, there are seasons. So there’s Caribbean season, there’s Alaska season, there’s a Europe season, Australia season, so on and so forth. So depending on the weather, the ships will do like repositionings. So there might be a ship that’s in the Caribbean for the winter months because people want to get away in the winter and go to warm places.

6 (14m 37s):
And then in the summer months, when Alaska is nice, that ship would reposition over to Alaska, maybe go through the Panama canal or a ship might come from Hawaii and reposition to Alaska. So ships definitely move around. It’s totally dependent. The cruise season.

4 (14m 52s):
When Zane asked that question, I felt like I knew the answer to that too, because I have cruised much more than Zana. And I know the ships don’t always do the same route. So a better question would be, are you assigned to one ship? And you reposition as you described. So do you ever switch ships or is a crew assigned to one ship? And obviously they sell differently based on seasons or, you know, turn around from where they port or a dock.

6 (15m 18s):
So the majority of the crew are going to stay on the same shift for their entire contract now with concessionaires, which is what my position was. So the concessionaires include a third party hiring companies that source staff for those positions. So to give you some examples, the spa, they are a third party company and they hire their own staff and they send them to the ship. There are port shopping guides, the art auctioneer’s. So departments that are considered concessionaires, they can be moved ship to ship depending on where they’re needed. So if you’re in a region of the world where they’re, they don’t need as many shops on board staff and the ship repositions there, they might transfer you to a Caribbean ship where they need more staff.

6 (16m 1s):
So really you’re at the discretion of the company that hired you. And it’s not always the cruise line. Where’s

2 (16m 8s):
Your favorite place that they’ve sent you?

6 (16m 10s):
So with my position, again, being very different from the entire industry, we were only sent to the Caribbean and then Alaska, but the same stores that operate typically in the Caribbean also because of the cruise ship passengers move their stores and their stock up to Alaska for that season. So they sort of move with the ships, if you will. And then my position also limit who can work in Alaska based on your nationality. So, because we work in port and Alaska is part of the U S you have to have a green card, a work visa, or be American. So I always got sent to Alaska every summer for the seven years that I was on ships.

6 (16m 51s):
So I spent my winters in the Caribbean summers in Alaska.

4 (16m 54s):
So you said seven years on the ship, because I was going to ask if you had been doing that the whole time since January of 13, up until COVID. So why don’t you tell us a little bit about when was the last time you were actually on a cruise, how it was told that you guys weren’t sailing anymore, and how did that really affect cruise in for you guys?

6 (17m 15s):
So I actually decided to resign, it was July of 2019. I decided to kind of hang up my, my sailor cap and try my hand at land life, or however you want to word it. And I traveled for about six months right after I resigned because I had all that cruise ship money saved up. And I thought, you know, I don’t know when I’m going to get another two months vacation, which was my normal vacation time throughout the year, right. Between contracts. And I thought I’m just going to go big. So I did a huge, you know, series of trips for six months. And then in January I got sort of scouted by a company that I used to represent.

6 (17m 57s):
So one of the companies that was contracted with us to sell for, they offered me a position that was land-based, but it was sort of training. And it was like a consultant position for training their salespeople on board. So it was a really cool, like hybrid position between ships and land. And I was still so excited about it. I’d gone out to California to talk to the company and start working a little bit. And then as you know, we got hit by a little virus and I don’t know if you’ve heard about it.

4 (18m 32s):
I haven’t heard about it. What are you talking about?

6 (18m 36s):
End of January, as I w w had gone out to California to do this training, they said, Hey, jump on this cruise ship. I had never been on a princess cruise, but it was a princess cruise ship. And they said, we need you to go for a week and feel it out, see what you think we’ll do some filming. Cause we have like a TV channel and things that we work with on the ship. And yeah, we’ll, you know, we’ll get going after that. So I flew home end of January from that cruise started working and then they flew me home in March in California. That was one of the first states to shut down. So flew home immediately. And they said, we’re going to put you on a 90 day hiatus and we’ll give you a call in 90 days. I thought it was insane.

6 (19m 17s):
I thought there is no way the shit’s going to last for 90 days. I can’t believe this. Like I just got like the job offer of my dreams. And you know, here we go, like, are you joking? And of course, as you can imagine, after six months of travel and not working, I mean, I was running pretty low on funds travel, you know, can be cheap, but I had not spared a penny because I thought I had a job. Right. So right. Bad decision in hindsight, but you know, came home quarantined and then realized the severity of it. And then basically just said, okay, I’m going to ride it out for as long as I need to. And then once cruise ship start again, then I will, you know, figure out what I want to do.

6 (20m 0s):
And then we are still in the same position. So I, I recently did get another sales position that I started this week. So I finally decided to, you know, go a different route for now until we see what the cruise industry is going to do.

4 (20m 16s):
Well, congratulations on the new position, in that sense, but in a selfish way, I’m slightly disappointed because I keep telling the squad that once COVID is over, which is starting to sound a lot, like once I win the lottery, I guess, but I’m feeling like I really want to go on a cruise. Cause I love cruises so much. And you know, maybe we’ll cross paths, but it doesn’t look like you’re getting back on the ships. As soon as we’re sailing. It seems

6 (20m 41s):
No, I moved home and just happened to meet the love of my life as the story goes and we made it through quarantine and we’re going to be together a year next weekend. So congratulations. Thank you. I was going to say it doesn’t seem like that big of a deal to a lot of people. I mean, I’m almost 34 and this is my first one-year anniversary. Like I’m a true, like, you know, I don’t do long relationships. I don’t do marriage. I’m not having kids. And not only have we been together for a year now and I’m super happy, but he has a two and a five-year-old. So life has definitely changed.

3 (21m 16s):
I can imagine how hard it is to maintain a relationship with somebody back home when you are on a cruise for three or six months at a time.

6 (21m 24s):
Well, I, I gave up on that after my first contract of trying to do the long distance on ships and simply put, I mean, you want to get into the juice of crew life. People do not hold back. I mean, there are no rules when it comes to love on cruise ships. I mean, I kid you not, and by no exaggeration, people have double and triple lives. I mean, you have people that are married with kids at home who come on board, they have a girlfriend that girlfriend signs off to go on vacation. She thinks they’re still together, but then he immediately starts hooking up with someone else. And I don’t say gender because it’s only men. I mean, everyone, it is like a successful,

4 (22m 6s):
That’s what I was going to say. And when we introed it, I was saying, don’t hold back. Cause I hear, like you said, you know, everybody’s a swap and fluids with each other in some sort of way on the cruise ships, if you’re part of the crew, huh? Cause I’ve even been on the cruise ships before and thought to myself, Hmm. I wonder who the cruise director is getting with or captain and might be the captain getting with somebody or which one of these waiters is with who or a concierge. So now we have confirmation that it happens. That is for sure.

3 (22m 35s):
I haven’t heard about crew members, but I’m wondering if, have you ever seen a crew member hit it off with a guest and, and something happened there?

6 (22m 45s):
Yes. So it is very against the rules, but it absolutely. Yes. So I’ve had several friends fired for guest crew for modernization. And I have also seen relationships come out of guests, crew feminization. So if you are able to keep it under wraps, meaning not get caught on board and you continue, you know, our relationship off the ship and they come and cruise with you as a guest, like your personal guest. Then of course you can carry on. Like I said, as I’ve only met a handful of people who were able to do that, but most of the time you’re either sneaking around and hoping you don’t get caught. And then if you do, you’re fired, we call a zero tolerance policy on board.

4 (23m 27s):
Well, I have to imagine that’s a big liability for the cruise ship so I can clearly see why they frowned upon it.

6 (23m 34s):
Exactly. And it does happen more than they would like. But you know, like with any time you’re talking about sex, you just can’t stop it from happening. You know, there’s surveillance cameras on every inch of the shed, but it still happens.

2 (23m 47s):
Have you ever seen a crew member hookup with someone who’s married? Who’s there with their spouse on the cruise ship?

6 (23m 56s):
I mean, I can say this confidently. I know that it’s happened, but I couldn’t tell like I even without knowing someone personally who’s done it. And if I thought back, I probably could think of something, but off the top of my head, I don’t know. But like a hundred percent that happens.

4 (24m 12s):
That’s a dangerous game to play because somebody could get pushed off the ship if somebody finds out and a moment of passion out in the middle of nowhere.

6 (24m 21s):
Yeah. I don’t know about it happening, but yes,

4 (24m 24s):
I was being a little overdramatic, but there’s a possibility.

6 (24m 28s):
Yes.

2 (24m 29s):
The real quickly taking it back a little bit, how you were saying how, like, you know, you got sent home because you know, California was one of the first shutdown states. So us the Travel Squad Podcast, we are here in California. But I just want to say that you’re really lucky that you weren’t on one of the cruise ships that kind of got stranded in the middle of nowhere, you know? Cause that happened with quite a few. In fact, I think even one of the princess cruise ships is one of the ones that wasn’t allowed to dock back in California.

6 (24m 57s):
Yes. So princess was one of the first ships to have like the big outbreak, which is why the company that I was working for, being affiliated with princess we’re one of the first to shut down. So they basically said until we figure out what this is and how serious it’s going to be, like, we’re just furloughing everyone. And I had friends who were stuck on board for three to four months without touching their feet to land.

2 (25m 20s):
Wow. That’s insane

6 (25m 22s):
Is, and you know, there were people that were stuck on the ship without getting paid because these third-party companies were just financially not able to pay without that cash flow of the guests being on board, they weren’t able to continue to pay them yet. They couldn’t also get them off the shit because they weren’t allowing travel. So they were just sort of trapped on this loading vessel and they would kind of hover outside of the home ports, just trying not to use fuel. And they would go in when they needed either fuel or food and they would restock and they’d go straight back out and float. So it was a crazy scene in Miami and Fort Lauderdale where a lot of the ships are.

2 (25m 59s):
That’s crazy. I feel like there were quite a few cruise ships that docked here in San Diego. Cause I remember hearing that on the news, like they thought that Diego people got off and cause we’re here in San Diego, they got off and they immediately went to the airport to fly them home.

6 (26m 13s):
I don’t know how I didn’t realize you were in San Diego, but that was where my first ship was out of the Hawaii ship that I did. Our home port was San Diego to Hawaii. So I love it there. You guys are super lucky.

3 (26m 26s):
So we’ve talked a lot about life on the ship and how COVID disrupted everything with cruises, but I’m more curious. I know you said you were working during port days quite often, but did you get

2 (26m 38s):
To

3 (26m 38s):
Explore any of the ports during your seven years cruise name?

6 (26m 42s):
Yes and no. I was a little bit of a slacker when it came to working in port, like compared to some of the other port shopping guides. I definitely went on ships for the travel. So I would find every opportunity to sneak off. And even if it was throw my bikini in my bag and change in a bathroom somewhere and go to the beach for an hour or if I was in Alaska, like I would find the super early tours when we docked that were before the shops were open so that I could like go explore and then come back for work or, you know, in the middle of the day, I mean, we were in Alaska for sometimes 12 to 14 hours and it was daylight the whole time. So I would find like little bits of time during the day to go on like a sea plane ride or go on a helicopter and you know, go to a glacier, a dog sled or whatever, but then just, you know, it wasn’t like essential for me to be in the stores and you know, people were most of the time on tour all through the morning and didn’t even get back to the port until the afternoon.

6 (27m 39s):
So I just took advantage of it and had the company I was working for, found out about any of that. I would have been fired instantly, but I, I kept it under wraps, never posted about it, just enjoyed it and kept my pictures and my phone. And you know, I I’ve been posting them recently since, since I can now

2 (27m 57s):
Smart way to do it.

6 (27m 58s):
Right.

1 (27m 59s):
So where is your favorite port that you’ve been to?

6 (28m 2s):
So my favorite port in the Caribbean is probably, oh man, I should have had this prepared, but I really love Cozumel. So many ships go to Cozumel and you know, they’re like, oh, it’s so touristy and people just harass you and this, that and the other. But the secret about Cozumel is that you have to go to the opposite side of the island. So if you’re ever on a cruise and you go to Cozumel, there’s a place on the opposite side of the island, which takes about, I want to say it’s about 30, 45 minutes to get to. And it’s called El CLO, which translates to heaven. And it is literally bliss. I mean the water comes max up to maybe like your chest, but it’s a giant miles and miles sandbar with the most crystal clear water that you’ve ever seen.

6 (28m 51s):
And these little couture boats just drive you out to the middle of a, like an, it seems like an abandoned sandbar in the middle of the ocean and you just drink and you hang out on the boat and you tan and it is just magical. And the snorkeling is phenomenal. I mean, I love Mexican food, so I love the food there. And I want to throw this in there too, because I feel like there’s still this really terrible myth about food and Mexico and water being clean in Mexico. Unless you go to a really rural, like deep part of Mexico, that’s not really touristy. You do not have to worry about clean water, like, especially in Cozumel. It’s so touristic now that there is clean water, no matter where you go. So don’t let that deter you from drinking the drinks or eating the food because you’re going to miss out big time.

3 (29m 37s):
Can you, first thing that I hear that all the time about food and washing the vegetables, being really cautious about those kinds of things, or even brushing your teeth. And thanks for also the squad tip About going to the other side of the island, because I have heard as well, that Cozumel is very touristy and maybe going to like to loom or somewhere else in that area is a better option. But I love that hack. I can’t wait to go back to that area and check it out that you made it sound beautiful.

6 (30m 6s):
Yeah. And just another cause you reminded me of Tulum. So she cheats a is another really popular tour when you go to Cozumel and highly recommended if you have a really long day there, but it’s like an eight hour tour. So if you go to Cheech needs it, it might be the only thing that you can do for the day. And it’s a trick to get there. I mean, I want to say it’s like a three hour trip there and three hour trip back and you have to do a ferry and then a bus and then same thing on the way back. But it’s one of the world wonders, like, go ahead, do it and get it out of the way. And then if you don’t have a long day or you don’t want to spend an eight hour tour to loom is a really good option too, just because you do get to see some of the ruins. It’s really beautiful.

6 (30m 47s):
And if you do it right, there’s some like really good combo, like to loom and like, see note, I don’t even know if I’m saying that right. CNSC. So no, say there it is. So it’s a note days that you can go and visit all in kind of a package. So it’s a good little like combo. And then if you’re white, man, you just want to go there and chill definitely go over to El CLO. The tour companies will usually arrange like taking you by a local restaurant or something like that. And they always provide alcohol like on the, on the boat. So it makes for a really good day.

4 (31m 20s):
So I want to back up on a couple things and your last statement made me think of another thing. One is that I think the point that you made of certain places, especially a lot of cruise places being touristy is very true. And you know this because when you get off, they have every thing set up for people to do shopping, which was your area of expertise on the cruise. Right. But you always have to find those off beaten paths. So I think that’s a good tip. But you mentioned doing some of the other tours and getting people to take you there as a cruise expert. And I want to know the answer to this myself, as someone who loves to cruise, do you think it’s wise to book through the cruise ships for the tours or do you think somebody can do the research themselves and book a vendor direct on land to do those tours?

6 (32m 7s):
Okay. I really wish this was an easy answer, but it’s just not because it is really completely dependent on the port that you visit. So for example, in Cozumel, you are usually better off doing the shit book tours. Here’s why there is oftentimes a time change for the ships to go to cause and LC, you might be an hour forward or an hour back. I can’t remember how it works and if you’re not on ship time and the, the local tours do not know what ship time is because every ship is different. So you could be late to your tour and lose that money. You can be late to the ship and then you’re really screwed. So for something where you have a time change involved, always booked through the shit because they guarantee you to be back on time.

2 (32m 47s):
When you do the stuff like when you’re going out to what El CLO are you booking through the cruise? Or like, are you even allowed to book through the cruise as an employee?

6 (32m 56s):
So I had gotten the information about LCL through one of the retailers that I worked with that lived in Cozumel. He had kind of hooked me up with this company, which was a friend of a friend. And they took me out for the day. They picked me up from the port and took me out and brought me back. So that was definitely like more locally arranged because I knew someone, but the most important thing in a place like Cozumel or any place that you don’t know, the currency, you don’t know the language, always make sure that you’d settle on a price before you go on the trip. So don’t say, Hey, can you take us to El CLO? And they say, yeah, hop in. Because that is just a terrible recipe for disaster. They can try to charge you whatever they want.

6 (33m 37s):
They can take you, you know, the long way, if they’re doing it by mileage, like whatever it may be, you always want to settle on a price if you’re going through like a taxi company or an outside tour company. Right. And then the other part of that is LCLs, for example, is not a kind of place that is touristic. So it’s not going to have a lot of taxis that are waiting there to take you back. So you would never want to just drive there and hope that you can like find a ride back. That’s that’s just really bad idea too. And I think that goes with any tours. So you always, if you’re booking outside of the shift, you really have to be careful. And I think unless you know, someone there or you have a really reputable and like backdoor company that you found online that has a lot of reviews and you can, you can pretty much tell from reviews and websites like how reputable the company is.

6 (34m 25s):
Right. But use your really best judgment if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

3 (34m 30s):
That’s great advice. I have been in the bad end of a situation like that, and I knew that advice and I wish I had taken it. So that’s great. Great.

1 (34m 41s):
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6 (36m 5s):
I want to, if you don’t mind, just go back quickly because I did mention my favorite port in the Caribbean, but I think it does matter to say that my favorite port in Alaska, because I spent like half my time. There is gangway, which have any of you cruise to Alaska?

4 (36m 21s):
Oh yes. Brittany and I have cruise to Alaska and we have been to Skagway.

6 (36m 25s):
Isn’t it magical.

1 (36m 26s):
It really was magical. And Jamal and I, we did the bike ride down the Klondike highway there. And that was fantastic.

6 (36m 34s):
Yeah. It’s such a great little port. And I, I used to describe during my shopping shows, Skagway has like this trip back in time to the old west. I mean, it’s the true light gold rush town. You’ve got the boardwalk plank sidewalks and they are, have the front of the buildings like protected. So they have to look like old timey, Western signage. And you can just take a walk. Only 800 people live in this town, by the way, your round. They pretty much just come in for the Alaska tourist season and then they leave. So in the off season, I mean, we’re talking tiny Alaska town that you think of when you think Alaska, right? One or two local bars and snow, and that’s about it.

6 (37m 17s):
But in the summertime, it’s just surrounded by mountains. It’s this little town that sits in the middle of nothing. And there are tours out the wazoo you can helicopter, or you can take a walk to a waterfall there’s lakes and nature all around. There’s a fantastic train tour that goes through there that you just can’t miss. If you go there too. And I just, I can’t rave about Skagway enough. I had so many fun adventures there.

2 (37m 43s):
Well fun fact, Jamal and Brittany, when they did their Alaska cruise, what port did you guys stop at? Because then they went to go do a helicopter ride and Jamal proposed to Brittany on the top of an Alaskan glacier.

4 (37m 56s):
Yeah, well that was in Juno and we took the helicopter and glacier hike, the Mendenhall glacier, and that’s where I proposed to Brittany. And then the next day was Skagway. So,

6 (38m 8s):
Oh man. Any, any guys out there listening? You got to top that good luck.

4 (38m 13s):
That was a good one.

6 (38m 16s):
Amazing. Wow. That’s a dream. Well, I mean, she, wasn’t going to say, oh, right. Like

1 (38m 23s):
How can you say no to that?

6 (38m 27s):
That’s great. So yeah, I just wanted to throw that in there. Cause I do think that Alaska and all the ports are amazing and they’re all so like I think that’s, that was another stereotype about Alaska before I went in, is that every town was the same and they’re all so different and really all have their own unique things to do. So if you take a cruise to Alaska, do different things in each of the ports and do the tours. I mean, anybody that gets off the ship in Alaska and does not have a tour book is crazy in my opinion, because the tours in Alaska are second to none.

2 (39m 2s):
So a place like Skagway, does it have snow even during the summer or not? Cause I know that you guys mentioned a boardwalk and I just can’t even imagine Alaska without snow, which I know might sound ignorant.

6 (39m 12s):
Well, no it doesn’t. So the sort of like boardwalk sidewalks are like these like old wooden sidewalks. So I didn’t mean like on the water. So the mountains surrounding you, you can see that there’s snow on the mountain tops, but there’s no snow on the ground. Like I spent three fourth of July’s in Skagway, strangely enough. It just so happened that the ship I was on fell in Skagway on the 4th of July. And we’re talking like a, you know, 80 degree day.

1 (39m 39s):
Yeah. Zeno when Jamal and I were in Skagway, it was actually warmer in Alaska than it was in San Diego at the time.

2 (39m 45s):
That’s crazy.

6 (39m 48s):
It’s very not true to its stereotype when you cruise there. I mean, pretty much everything you’ve ever thought about Alaska is like myth busted.

2 (39m 56s):
Yeah.

1 (39m 57s):
So Ashley, one of the questions that we always try to answer for our listeners is about bathrooms. And I have a question about the bathrooms on board. They all seem to have a very distinct smell. Have you noticed that on all the cruise ships you’ve worked on?

6 (40m 14s):
Yes,

4 (40m 16s):
Absolutely. Tell us what that smell is.

6 (40m 20s):
Yes, I can.

2 (40m 21s):
I don’t know what you guys are talking about

4 (40m 24s):
Because you haven’t cruised enough. Zayna so clearly you don’t know what we’re talking about.

6 (40m 28s):
Okay. So it’s sort of this like chemical-y shit smell. Right? Right. And all the bathrooms on ships are powered by vacuum. So there’s this huge, like, you know, sewer system where it just sucks all the shit down into the bottom of the ship, the engine room, where they burn it and purify it and put it out to sea. And that sounds really like bad for the environment, but they purify this shit literally cleaner than like drinking water. It’s insane. I was lucky enough to be friends with some engineers on my last few contracts who gave me engine room tours and they show you like the sanitation system. And I mean, it is a wild process.

6 (41m 10s):
So they do share a file that and inject it. But going back to your bathroom question, we have very, very strict and this was pre COVID very strict sanitizing procedures. So the bathrooms have pretty much like attendance that monitor them 24 7. And they’re going in there, you know, every 10, 15 minutes and wiping everything down. And we have this chemical called Oxy veer on board that is only good for like three days. And you ha we have this whole process of like getting rid of the old chemicals and refilling it and labeling it. And it’s like a really, really punishable offense. If you don’t refill your oxivere and label the bottles.

6 (41m 50s):
Right. And all these things, because as you know, ships become like assessable for gastrointestinal stomach

4 (41m 58s):
Virus.

6 (41m 59s):
Exactly. Huh?

4 (42m 1s):
When you, Corona virus would be the one that killed the cruise ships and not the neuro,

6 (42m 6s):
Right. Oh my gosh. So we call it GI on board and there are a lot of GI jokes for the crew, but you know, I won’t get into that. But yes, it is a very serious thing because the Marine labor laws, they have a lot of strict guidelines about certain amount of cases that you can have on board before you go into higher security levels. So something like 1% of the ship, which isn’t that many people we’re talking 10, 20 people get the norovirus and we go into a higher sanitizing procedure. And if you get a certain percentage, then you go into level three, which means that none of the crew can go and guest areas, the crew have to serve in the buffets, constant sanitation by everybody on board.

6 (42m 50s):
Sometimes it goes to the point where the crew can’t get off. So we take it really seriously like sanitizing because it affects us big time.

1 (42m 57s):
Well, thank you for the answering that question. I was always,

6 (43m 1s):
And to be that thorough, but yeah, we, we go through so much training onboard that anybody that’s ever worried about going on a ship for safety, or even for sanitation, there’s no reason to fear. I mean, they are doing over time, making sure that it’s safe for you. And that if there is an emergency that the crew knows what to do, we have weekly training drills for all different situations for suspicious persons, suspicious objects for oil spills for first aid, for so many different positions, even firefighting we have drills for. So you’re, you’re very safe when you’re on board.

3 (43m 35s):
I actually that’s. It brings up a memory I have from my first cruise experience where one of my friends was not behaving. You know, he had that drink card and he definitely maxed it out that day and got into some trouble. And the cruise people must’ve done drills on this type of situation because they ended up spoofing him up and putting him in like a cruise jail. It was his own room, but they stood outside of his room and like a timeout for an hour of cruise jail.

4 (44m 3s):
He didn’t go into the real brig. They just combined into his room and put security guards out in front of it. Right.

3 (44m 9s):
He had a balcony room too, and they drilled the doors shut. So he couldn’t call them balcony.

6 (44m 14s):
Like it takes a lot to get that. But usually it’s only for like a one day of like a warning, but like, it’s pretty extreme to get to that point.

2 (44m 23s):
You guys actually have a cruise jail. I mean, like, obviously that was extreme for him, but like, is there a place where they would actually take people for a cruise jail or even like if someone were to pass away, you know, That was really more of it. I’m sorry.

6 (44m 38s):
No, I have a terribly morbid crude joke for you. I did not think it would get to this, but I’m going to tell it to you anyways. So it’s very rare that crew gets treated with like, you know how if you go to a buffet on a ship that there’s like all the ice cream, like, you know, you can just get free. Like not the, not the like soft serve ice cream, but like the scoop ice cream. Right. And it’s free. Okay. So we have a joke with the crew that if it’s ice cream day and the mess. So let’s say you get like, you know, tubs of Ben and Jerry’s and the mess where that’s, where the crew eat. That too many people have died on board and they need to make room in the freezers,

4 (45m 21s):
Zane and mentioned that about the storage of the bodies. And I think all cruise ships are built with more drugs because I think statistically, like at least one person I think dies pretty much every cruise.

6 (45m 33s):
Yes. That is accurate. And the longer the cruise, the more dead bodies. So there is a little bit of truth to it. I don’t think they’re actually sticking them in a freezer with food. That’s obviously a morbid joke, but nonetheless, yes, people do die on board and there are more ways to handle those types of situations. But most of the time they do offload the bodies in the nearest courts and they get those sent home to the family. So on the other note, you’d asked about what was the other question you asked? Oh, the jail.

2 (46m 3s):
Oh. If they actually have like females. Yeah.

6 (46m 6s):
Okay. So I actually dated for a while. It was tragic, but I dated a chief security officer from Israel and, you know, being the chief security officer, his office was actually where the jail was. So it’s not what you’re picturing. It doesn’t have bars. It looks like a tiny little walk-in closet sized space, same walls as the crew cabins or the guest cabins, the, you know, metal walls. And it’s got a toilet, a little mattress on the floor and a sink. And that is where it comes to an extreme case. You will have to spend your recruiters. Now. I have never known anybody to go in the crews jail. And if they do, it’s usually for something that is, it’s a crime, for example, domestic abuse, which unfortunately does happen.

6 (46m 53s):
Things like, I mean, we’ve had murders on board. I, I know that seems insane, but I was on a ship one time when there was a domestic abuse that led to a death and things like that, extreme situations, they will use the jail, but it doesn’t happen much.

2 (47m 8s):
Wow. That’s really intense. That’s so sad. That’s so sad.

6 (47m 13s):
It is. It is. I would say I actually talked about this on one of my podcast episodes, but very quickly, I don’t know the, the morbid stuff. It’s, it’s not that it’s hard to talk about it. I just don’t know that people really want to hear, but I’ll just let you know quickly. I was on board for several man overboards and the, the most intense and the most kind of chilling was a domestic issue that happened in one of the cabins. And when the person jumped overboard, they actually caught on to the lifeboat on a deck five on the outer deck. And then they kind of grasped onto it, but their legs were dangling. And for about 10 minutes or so, while the ship is slowing down, because obviously it’s been reported, Trudy’s trying to pull them back on and they’re resisting.

6 (47m 55s):
And then you actually have video of this online where they, they fall into the water. And the body was discovered a few days later after, you know, searching stuff like that. Unfortunately it does happen. It is like I said, chilling, not something I would want anybody to ever have to go through because it definitely gets a really bad energy on board when you find out something like that happens, but nobody ever goes over this ship that doesn’t want to go overboard. So it’s not dangerous to cruise. You’re not going to fall over the rail. You know, they’re very protected, but you know, unfortunately that does happen.

3 (48m 27s):
So I know you’re not working on cruise ships any more. And Corona has stinted, a little bit of travel and you have little more of reason to stay home now, but I’m wondering, do you have any, any travel planned or do you feel like you got it out of your system on those seven years? I’m sure not

6 (48m 44s):
God, no, it’s impossible. Once you’ve been bitten by the travel bug, it’s, it’s hard to get on bitten. So I was fortunate enough to travel to 59 countries in my seven years on ships. And like I mentioned before, I was only working in the Caribbean and Alaska. So a lot of the countries that I’ve visited were on my vacations because I would usually get one and a half to two months off in between the Caribbean and then in-between Alaska. So on both sides of that and spent a lot of my time visiting the places that the ship didn’t go or didn’t take me. So I absolutely have plans to travel. Again. I haven’t financially been able to plan a whole lot recently. However, with this new job it’s remote, which was my number one requirement because I am ready to start traveling again.

6 (49m 30s):
My boyfriend only has custody of the kids every other week. So on our weeks off, we have planned to go remote and travel every other week. So that’s the plan I would say. We’ll probably start planning and in the next six months, get going again. So that’s hopefully, you know where life goes, but we’ll just have to wait and see.

3 (49m 49s):
That is so exciting that you found another job that will let you travel and work at the same time. That’s awesome.

6 (49m 55s):
I mean, it’s not always easy to find, but I think once you have that travel bug and that kind of passion, it’s hard to keep you from it. So I just searched and searched and searched and really put in the time to get in touch with the right people and get the right connections to, to be able to find something. So like I said, I start Wednesday and hopefully it is great. If a dream is I’m expecting it to be,

2 (50m 19s):
Well, I absolutely love your energy, Ashley, like truly, truly you have such a, like just a wonderful energy about you. And so you first had us on our podcast and I made the comment that you’re a great interviewer. You had mentioned that you had so much sales experience. And I just feel like in this new position, you’re just going to do so wonderful and you’re going to shine because like you are a salesperson and you know how to talk to people. And I feel like I can continue interviewing you because there are so many things I could ask. And at the same time, don’t want to keep you for too, too long. So I would love to know like, just how can people find you? Where can they check you out all of that good stuff.

6 (50m 58s):
Well, thank you so much for that. I really appreciate it for the bottom of my heart. I’ve really enjoyed this reminiscing is about the only thing that gets me through to the day. I find myself down a rabbit hole of looking at old travel pictures almost every day. So this has been really, really fun for me. And if you would ever, you know, find another free spot for me to come back and talk more, I would be happy to do that. Or just one-on-one if you want to talk more about it after

3 (51m 26s):
There’s so much, I still wanted to ask about the travels and trips that you took while you were on break, but,

6 (51m 32s):
And I’m talking about

2 (51m 35s):
Ashley. Yeah. And the other thing too is, you know, we’re in San Diego. So if you ever do, you know, get back on a cruise ship, if you ever are sent to San Diego, hit us up.

6 (51m 44s):
Well, either way I know I’ll be out in California at some point, so I would love to catch up and meet up and definitely have a beer or whatever. That would be awesome. But for now, yeah, but for now, if you, if you’d like to follow along with the podcast or contact me through social media, everything is Ashley P Travels. That’s on Instagram, Facebook, YouTube podcast is called Ashley P Travels. So if you would like to check it out, I’d love to have you. I talk about crazy travel stories. I interview guests about how they made their way onto shifts or how they made their way into a travel lifestyle. And then we talk about some of their kind of trials through travel.

6 (52m 27s):
Sometimes it’s funny stories, sometimes it’s life lessons, but it’s really just interesting people that I’ve met along the way who have a great story to tell. So I think that, you know, anybody could benefit from it because you really do get a lot of new perspectives. And I think it’s very inspiring how a lot of people end up in the same place, but from so many different paths.

3 (52m 48s):
Yeah, absolutely. I can agree. You have a great mix of hilarious stories. I loved your girl talk episode. Everyone needs to go to Ashley P Travels and check it out.

6 (52m 57s):
Thank you. I really appreciate that. I

3 (52m 59s):
Think that’s all the questions we have. Thank you so, so much for coming on our podcast, we will have you on for part two to talk more about travel and, and yeah.

6 (53m 10s):
Well, I really appreciate it again. Thanks so much for having me and I look forward to our catch-up in San Diego next time.

2 (53m 17s):
Yeah.

4 (53m 18s):
Looking forward to it. Ashley.

6 (53m 20s):
Thank you guys so much.

2 (53m 21s):
Cool. Thanks.

3 (53m 24s):
All right, everyone. That’s all we have for you this week. Thank you so much for tuning in. Please keep the adventures going with us by following us on Instagram and YouTube at Travel Squad Podcast. We now have the Travel Squad Podcast. Hashtag if you tag your photos with that, we will share them on our profile. And please send us in those questions

2 (53m 42s):
The week. And if you found the information in this episode to be useful, or if you thought you were just playing funny, please make sure to share it with a friend that would enjoy it too.

4 (53m 50s):
And as always guys, please subscribe, rate and review our podcast and tune in every travel Tuesday for new episodes,

1 (53m 57s):
Stay tuned for next week’s episode, we have some more amazing adventures and tips in store for you.

3 (54m 2s):
Woo

keep the adventures going

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