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happy daze john in oz
4th August 2014, 10:26 PM

A very good cruise this one with excellent weather all theway and many places of interest to visit.

The cruise had set out from Freemantle in Western Australia,a port which until this year, had only had about 3 or so cruises sailing fromit but will now have a ship stationed there for the season cruising being nowso popular. This cruise was in 3 parts, a full 26 day round voyage, or 12 daysto Singapore, or the one we took 14 days from Singapore back to WA.

Of the 2500 on board almost 2000 were from WA and most fromlife style establishments, often known ad retirement villages. Of the remaining500 there were only about 200 or so professional drinkers.

On the first night out the hotel manager, a cross betweenChief steward and purser spoke and introduced senior officers to all. Among thepearls of wisdom I found the following one to cherish. ‘Never eat on an emptystomach’, so a couple of beers before lunch, or G&T before dinner meantthat I could live with the concept. I also discovered that a meal withoutalcohol is known as breakfast, served between 0600 hours and 1000 hours atwhich time the first bar opens.

The hotel manager, Tony Palendine, a guy from Bristol withsome35 years sea time is a nice guy and this is the third time he has been onthe same cruise as I. He enjoys a chat with any ex MN person to as he says‘chew the fat’ on average he sees 3 or 4 each year. We had a long talk and Ilearned a few interesting facts.

With Princess Cruises wages for catering crew vary dependingon which part of the world the ship is cruising in, where as for all other crewthe wage remains constant. With other companies this is not the case but wageswith some, and he mentioned Cunard, are lower than with Princess. Cateringwages depend on the duties of each member, contracts which are now normally for9 months state that they must not work more than 11 hours per day unless thereis an emergency in which case they can be made to work 13 per day. We had sucha situation on this cruise, an outbreak of Noro Virus amongst a large number ofthe older passengers saw very restrictive food service regulations come intoplace. For 7 days in the self-service food areas crew wearing rubber gloves hadto serve all foods, no self-service.

Tony was not prepared to say just how much wages were butour assistant table waiter told me he earns about US$400 per month. To earnthat in the Philippines he would need to work 4 jobs or more, that is if hecould find work. With his pay he is able to provide private health cover forhis family and send his son and daughter to university.

Bar crew are paid at a level of about half that on thewaiter, but receive a 10% share of the cost of drinks. As one such crew membertold me he could often earn $20 or more per day this way.

I also discovered a few other points of interest. With theexception of Princess and P&O sailing from Australian ports all pricing isdone in $US. Princess and P&O sailing from Australian ports price all in$Australian. They are also the only times where compulsory gratuities are notapplied, on all other ships in any other part of the world you must sign awaiver if you do not wish to pay the compulsory, this cannot be refused asenforced as all gratuities are voluntary and there is now law which allows forcompulsory payments.

Australians as normal do not tip, it goes back to the daysof the first fleet when all were seen as equal, and it is rare for anyone toleave a tip. However for some reason passengers from Oz on cruise ships are thevery best of all tippers, and for this reason there are always crew who wish tostay on ships sailing from Oz. The worst for tips, the Americans and British!

Before leaving Freemantle a total of 1000 slabs of VB, anexcellent Australian beer was taken on for the 26 days. A total of 24,000 cansof the beer. Some 2 days before the end of the cruise there were none left andwe were reduced to drinking Heineken and other poor quality beers, notimpressed. To add insult to injury the ship also sold out of Chardonnay at thesame time. But for those of us smarter enough to order in advance for the 14nights we were OK. As Tony told me inall his years on cruise ships he has never known this to occur.

During the cruise I made enquires with the future cruisemanager as to a Medi cruise some time next year. He was a real nice Yorkshireguy, non-Caucasian, with a great sense of humour. I asked him what the cruisemight be like and the make up of passengers on such. He informed me his motherand father had done the cruise this year in May and all there was wereAmericans! Might have to reconsider.

Doc Vernon
4th August 2014, 10:47 PM
The Strange one is back!
And as always such great posts of the Cruise,you sure have a way with words there John,and when reading I seem to drift into your shoes,it makes it so real.
As I have said before,wish that I could put all my travels into such interesting formats!
Thanks for them all!

Good to have you back safe and sound!

happy daze john in oz
5th August 2014, 05:57 AM
Well Vernon as one guy on board said, 'If you want to know how the other guy travels walk a mile in his shoes, by the time he knows they are gone you are a mile away and have his shoes'.

5th August 2014, 08:07 AM
Surprised that the Americans were the poor tippers, as is mostly compulsory in their own country. At least it is for tourists in Restaurants and on bus tours. Wages appears to be the same system as it was in the 70"s paid on your Nationality. This International Union Agreement may have been in force for some companies as some say it exists, I never saw this. A philipino Ch Eng was never paid the same figure as say a Dutchman. Wages always went on Nationality to try and keep in line with their country of origin. The poorer the country the lower the wages. As have said before one of the poorest wages have seen was Russians even on a foreign flag. Their national wage on their own flag ships being nothing to write home about. In 1970 on a heap of rubbish I was on for nearly a year, the master was on 33 pound a day, the Chief Eng. 32 pound a day, myself as mate was on 31 pounds a day. If had not been European would have been much less. This was on a years contract. In 1987, 17 years later, I was on nearly the same 32 pounds a day in the North Sea on stand by vessels. This however was about half the salary as on a supply boat. Cheers John S