Sunday, 17 July 2011

Holland America Line's Crew Training

Crew members on board Volendam
Smiles, courtesy and a desire to please are common traits among the largely Filipino and Indonesian crew members on Holland America Line cruise ships. How they remember passengers' names and favourite tipples is a miracle! One sweet waitress, who served us at the Pinnacle Grill one night for dinner, greeted me with "Hello, Miss Wendy" every time she saw me from then on around the ship - and I was only one of over 1400 cruisers on board.
     When I went to a talk on 'Life Below Deck', I was interested to learn about the crew training programmes. Holland America has built two schools for that purpose, one in Manilla, the other in Jakarta. Here crew members learn their jobs in conditions that simulate a real cruise ship. They live in cabins, cook in galleys, learn waiting, bartending and housekeeping skills in real restaurants, bars and staterooms.
   This gives them a chance to see if they are cut out for a life at sea - on 8 month contracts, working split shifts with no days off, living in a small space, always with other people around. As one of the officers said, "You might be the best chef in the world but if you can't handle the living conditions, you're no good to us!"
   Perhaps life on the ocean wave is not as glamorous as it first seems!

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