I joined P&O Cruises MV Ventura on 03/09/2011 in Southampton as a Hotel Cadet. I felt excited but nervous, as I didn’t know what to expect and knew that I was stepping into the unknown. But I knew this could potentially be the beginning of my career at sea. I was greeted by friendly crew and taken to my cabin by a past student Emma Thicks, who was working on board as Assistant Front of House Manager.
I knew that the cadetship would involve working in various departments and sub departments. I was told that I would first be going to work in the housekeeping department. I reported to the Housekeeping Manager a two gold stripe officer and spent 2 and half months in housekeeping altogether. In this time I worked in the Laundry for 2 weeks, which was very physical hard work. I worked alongside cabin stewards learning the in’s and out’s of cleaning cabins and what the job role entails. I worked as a cabin steward assistant, which again involved lots of physical labour where I had to take dirty linen down to the laundry and collect new linen for my section of cabin stewards and collecting rubbish and taking to the incinerator. I also worked a few nightshifts in housekeeping where I helped to regenerate the ships sparkle overnight ready for passengers the next day.
During my last 2 cruises in Housekeeping, I was asked to take on the role of Deck Housekeeper due to the unexpected departure of a crewmember. This was a fantastic opportunity as it gave me a chance to put everything I had learnt over the past month into practice. I was responsible for a team of 11 cabin stewards and the cabins and pantries in which they worked. I had a pager that would constantly buzz from reception to inform me of an issue with a TV or safe in a passenger’s cabin that I would go and see too. I also covered the other deck housekeeper’s breaks and at one point I had 3 pagers strapped to me. It was a very busy job that worked me hard but I really enjoyed it. Also it benefited me as I learnt about delegation and holding musters in the evening with my team really helped me to build on my managerial skills.
I spent two months in the Front of House department and started by shadowing a PSA (passenger service assistant) on the reception desk to learn the role and how to answer queries and deal with passenger complaints. It really helped that I had worked in housekeeping, as I knew how to answer questions and queries regarding cabins and the procedures that were followed. After shadowing Saket (the PSA) for one week I was asked to take on the job role as a PSA with my own float of up to £10,000 as there was a shortage in PSA’s on board. This really helped me gain confidence within the job role and it was good to have responsibilities. I had to balance my float and complete my balance sheet at the end of every shift. I also had to deal with passenger complaints and queries and make follow up phone calls to ensure these passengers were happy. I really enjoyed working on the desk, it was such a great atmosphere and I loved the high contact environment with the passengers. I knew that this experience would help me in the future, as I wanted to gain a position as Assistant Front of House manager after University. Working as a PSA enabled me to understand the job role and ultimately have knowledge for the job my team would carry out in the future.
Although I loved the desk, I then had to move on to work in administration. I started by working with the Crew and Administration Manager, Ants. I really enjoy any kind of paper work so I got on well in this role with printing all the relevant documents needed for immigration at every port. The amount of paper work that goes into immigration is unbelievable, there is so much to prepare. With this job role also came the responsibility of setting up the terminal in Barbados for our turnaround day when new passengers would join the ship. I then moved to the Crew Office to learn all about the job role of the assistant crew manager. I learnt all the procedures for crew joining and leaving the ship and all the documentation and paperwork that is needed. I also was lucky enough to experience crew payday. The crew office is theoretically a reception desk for crew if they want to exchange money, pay their on board account or buy phone/internet cards. It’s a great atmosphere and you get to know the crew and sometimes crew you wouldn’t necessarily know due to the work they carry out.
Before I knew it my first contract was finished. I had the most amazing first contract on board MV Ventura and will keep the memories with me forever. The experience also made me want a career at sea even more and gave me more motivation and determination. After four and a half months I was ready for my 6-week break back in the UK and I flew home from Barbados on 14/01/2012 for a well-deserved break and to catch up with family and friends.