Do cruise ship employees hook up with passengers? 

Passenger and Crew Hook Up
Photo by Git Stephen Gitau from Pexels

Before working on cruise ships, I always wondered if the crew hooked up with passengers from time to time. And I was shocked to find out that some did.

For the most part, cruise ship employees don’t hook up with passengers, for fear of losing their jobs. But it definitely happens. I’d say about 5% of officers, staff or crew that frequent the passenger areas end up being with a passenger or passengers at some point in their cruise ship careers. 

Read on if you’d like to hear about the passenger/crew hookups I witnessed while working on cruise ships, when the cruise lines turn a blind eye, and my own personal story of dating a passenger while working at sea.

But first…

What does hooking up with passengers look like?

Hooking up can mean a lot things, and most assume it’s just sex. 

Hooking up between passengers and crew members can be as innocent as hanging out in the bars and nightclubs, kissing and heavier physical contact, or full out sex.

How much hooking up will a cruise line tolerate?

The ships are tolerant to innocent hanging out, as crew/passenger interaction is encouraged to ensure passengers have a great time at sea. 

But anything more than friendly conversation is strictly forbidden. It’s unprofessional and can lead to some pretty serious legal trouble for the ship. 

Even when passengers fully consent, it’s completely not allowed. Nope!

Cruise lines are very aware of the legal issues that could result, as well as the impact on their reputations. They will not do or allow anything that could affect revenue in any way!

What happens to cruise ship employees that hook up with passengers?

If they’re caught, it’s almost always an instant firing. 

They’ll be sent home at the next port and will have to pay for their own plane ticket and any other related expenses.

If for some reason they weren’t fired, they’ll most likely never return. 

Some may even get into legal or criminal trouble, depending on the circumstances, so it’s best to avoid passenger interaction of this type in any way you can.

Once, while working on cruise ships…

One of the officers was caught with a passenger.

The ship faced a serious dilemma as it couldn’t legally sail without that crew member and there was no replacement for him for another few cruises.

He was then sent home, and never returned. We always wondered how he explained it to his wife…

When cruise lines have to turn a blind eye…

Crew and Passengers Together
Photo by Artem Beliaikin from Pexels

There are times when the cruise line turns a blind eye to crew members connecting with passengers. 

I once saw a female passenger take an interest in a crew member, and she requested that he join her and her family for dinner one night. 

Technically, the crew member wasn’t allowed to eat in the passenger dining hall, but the Hotel Director made an exception because this passenger and her family were well known on board, and sailed 2 to 3 times a year with them.

The passenger even requested they have their picture taken together on the ship’s main staircase – where the passenger portraits are taken.

The funny part was, one of the ship photographers really liked that crew member. She hung the picture up dead centre on the main photo board where passengers come to collect their photos, making it obvious for all to see. 

We were pretty sure she was letting the powers that be know something scandalous was going on here 🙂  

Because of the delicate situation, the ship watched them closely to make sure nothing more could happen – but to be honest, who could say for sure. 

My own “dating” a passenger story…

Personally, when I was the Internet Manager on one ship, I ended up dating a passenger.

She came into the internet cafe one night near the end of my evening shift to check her email. After asking me a few technical questions, a natural conversation began and the next thing I knew it was past midnight.

She came back each night and we’d carry on our conversations until quite late.

As much as I was enjoying it, I had mixed feelings for sure. On one hand, I really liked this girl, and on the other, I desperately didn’t want to do anything that could get me fired – so I knew I needed to tread very lightly.

We continued to discreetly hang out, have late-night drinks in the smaller bars every evening and even visited a few ports together. 

The coast was clear and no one seemed to alert the ship about our rendezvous.

By the end of her cruise we decided to stay in contact and see if this budding relationship could work. Since she was no longer a passenger, that gave us more freedom.

One major advantage we had was that she lived near a port we visited regularly, and so we saw each other every 10 days or so. 

I’d bring her on the ship with one of my guest passes, or we’d meet in port and hang out – we had such a great time.

By the end of my contract, we decided I would stay with her and her parents for a few months, hoping things would continue to work out.

As wonderful as it all was, sadly it did not.

The reality of having to leave my family and friends (she lived in a different country) and my love and lure of the sea, brought me back to ships a few months later… where I continued to work for another 3 years.

We still remain friends to this day though, and I’ll always remember those amazing experiences we had together.

When crew and passenger relationships do work out…

A good friend of mine played in the piano bar and met a female passenger one night. 

She lived near the turn-around port and they would routinely meet up and hang out.

Things worked out so well, she eventually quit her land job and she joined the ship to become the singer of their new “duo”. 

Countless contracts later, they eventually settled on land, had a little girl, and continue to be married to this day. 

I love it when things do work out so well.

They were also instrumental (pardon the pun) to me joining cruise ships, but I’ll tell that story in another post one day!

Hooking up with a passenger may just get you a life long partner – if you don’t get fired first! I’d suggest you play it safe, and keep your love life below the decks, and with your fellow crew members only.

A Little About the Author...

Rob Lilley is passionate about working on cruise ships, and spent 5 years of his life travelling the seven seas and touching ground on all 7 continents.  With the experience of 2 different job positions in multiple contracts with different cruise lines, from explorer ships to full-sized cruise liners, Rob is keen to share his insider insights with all of those interested in working at sea! More…

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