A former cruise worker come best-selling author has revealed hidden bars lurk beneath the feet of unknowing cruise passengers.
Brian David Bruns, a former cruise ship crew member and author behind the Cruise Confidential book series, revealed to the UK’s Express that cruise vessels are home to off-limit party sites that only staff are allowed at.
These bars and hangouts, Bruns reveals, are the haunt of cruise ship staff when their shifts come to an end.
He told Express that although different ships have different layouts, “most ships nowadays have the crew bar on zero deck, which is at the waterline”, and adds that most ships have a single main hangout for the crew to unwind in, occasionally a ship may offer a separate “lounge” for officers only as well.
“Crew bars vary widely, depending upon the layout of the ship and where they’re located,” he claimed.
“In the case of one Royal Caribbean ship, the entire back deck near the waterline was open to the air.
“I believe the ship was of French design, which would make sense: just off the extensive dining area for the crew was an expansive, teak-planked open-air patio spanning the entire width of the ship.
However, Brunt noted that most crew bars have minimal dance floor space.
“They aren’t nightclubs, so much as a neighbourhood dive,” he said. “They’re loaded with chrome and shiny baubles, with thumping music.”
Brunt also claimed staff were entitled to discount booze.
“We can enjoy duty-free stuff from port, for example. Passengers have to wait until they get home to open such goodies. But for the crew, the ship is home.”
The writer also claimed cruise operators reward their staff with monthly or annual parties, allowing them a chance to have fun after a busy working schedule.
“Different cruise lines have different policies regarding regularly scheduled crew parties,” Brunt said.
“Carnival was the best in this regard. Twice a month they had a big crew party – once in the crew bar and once they actually closed a guest lounge in favour of the crew.
“These parties were from midnight until 2am, and had free liquor. My understanding is that in the last few years they’ve stopped giving away the free hard liquor. This was wise on their part.
“These parties were the wildest things I’ve ever seen – and I live in Las Vegas. When given only two hours to cut loose, people really really did so.”
Brunt also reassured that cleanliness and hygiene in board ships remains an absolute priority.
“Every home port, room stewards disinfect every high touch item in the cabin, especially in the bathroom,” he said.
“That bathroom has about 400 times less bacteria than your office desk.”
Travel Weekly has contacted Royal Caribbean International and Carnival Cruise Line for comment.