Using slave ships (cruiselines) as a method to obtaining AB or QMED rank?

I’ve been doing some research into a career as a seaman. I’m 37 and at a crossroads. With the poor economy I’m trying to find a way forward in an occupation I can tolerate. I’m not a people person, which is one thing that attracts me to this profession. Of course the high pay and time off does too. I’ve worked in the construction industry. I’m a professional, conscientious hard worker and can work as part of a team. I would be torn between selecting the engineering or deckhand path. I’ve got a few questions if anyone has the time or inclination to answer: 1.) Is taking advantage of cruiselines (Royal Carribbean, Carnival, Princess, etc.) as a method to obtain initial seafaring experience a viable option. Being registered in foreign countries, I know that their pay and working conditions are complete GARBAGE and they don’t like hiring Americans because most of us wouldn’t tolerate their squalid business practices. Could I use them to obtain 6 months of seafaring experience in order to qualify as an able seaman or a QMED so that I stand a chance of getting hired somewhere? 2.) Hardly anyone seems interested in hiring ordinary seamen or wipers. My online research has yielded absolutely nothing in the form of companies who offer training apprenticeships for OS or wipers to gain the next rank. My only option seems to be attending a maritime academy and shelling out 5 figures for it. If it has to be that way, from a percentage standpoint, how confident should I be in being successful in securing immediate employment afterwards, at what seems to be the going rate of $280 per day? Also I have a college degree, I don’t think it’ll be much use for what I want to achieve, is it? 3.) Being from the west, I prefer to remain in the west (OR, WA, CA). How plentiful are the opportunities in the Pacific compared to the oil opportunities in the Gulf? Is the pay the same? Thanks in advance for any input you have to offer.

I think Hornbeck offshore is hiring OS wipers. Don’t waste your time on a cruise ship. You should try sailing on a tug or supply vessel anywhere you can get your foot in the door and then figure out if you can tolerate the lifestyle. be aware that you might be treated like shit because you’re starting at the bottom of the food chain. Once you get a taste of life on workboats decide if you want to go for a deck or engineering license. I think HOS has some boats in the North West but you would prob have develop a good reputation and then make a request to work up there.

Good luck.

If you aren’t a people person how are you going to tolerate being cooped up onboard with people you might not care for, and vice versa???
No matter how big the boat is, it will get small REAL quick.

regarding the “not a people person” thing, you need to be of the personality that can “get along” and work with anyone within a minute of meeting them, because you’ll be living/working with complete strangers right off the bat. No personal time or space. Yes there are guys who are complete assholes to others onboard but they can usually “get along” with them enough to get the job done; normally there’s a decent dynamic amongst seaman around the galley table etc to make things work smooth; if that’s not in your personality then its not the right biz. You can’t have the construction site mentality that “oh yeah, well ill show him!” at sea. You’re at the bottom, you have to just tolerate a certain amount of nonsense.

The gulf is probably the best place to look for an OS position.

If you’re interested in becoming an engineer, some GOM companies might give you six months of sea time as an “OS engineer” even if they aren’t hiring wipers per se. Only thing to do is try your luck.

From what little I know about cruise ships I’d say that’s a way harder route up the hawsepipe than just getting a job on an OSV.

Definitely look into HOS and their apprentice training program.

These guys are absolutely correct about the people person aspect. Lots of different people out here so you really need to let things roll off you shoulder. Don’t let this discourage you though. Plenty of good people on workboats and you can work hard and have a lot of fun if you do it right.

[QUOTE=Flyer69;116206]If you aren’t a people person how are you going to tolerate being cooped up onboard with people you might not care for, and vice versa???
No matter how big the boat is, it will get small REAL quick.[/QUOTE]

I like the engine room. Just wear ear pro, nod and smile. I even wear it when I get coffee or go on deck some times.

P.S. It doesn’t work with the wife though.

There’s a thread earlier started by Saltwater about him being hired on a foreign cruise ship. I think you might be able to search his user name through gCaptain. Try to PM him for hiring info.

As far as American Flag ocean going cruise liners, the only ones I know of sail in the Hawaiian islands.

Good seamanship requires getting along with anyone. You don’t have to like them or they you. A ship where people fight or just cause hate and discontent will lead to general misery, distraction, poor work, injury or death.

The only thing that causes more havoc than someone who can’t get along is an attractive woman onboard. That’s the worst!

Hahhaha! Anyone woman becomes attractive after a couple weeks!!!

Regarding attending a maritime academy: I went to TMA (Texas Maritime Academy). As a cadet there, you get in-state tuition. After fees, cruises, etc - it should come to about $40,000 for 4 years. For one of those summers, you go on an internship. Most companies pay about $30 a day for cadets. I was lucky and sailed with Hornbeck which was paying their cadets $150 a day. There are plenty of part-time jobs on Galveston island, some of which are maritime related, if you need to earn some money while going to school there. There are also quite a few scholarships provided by the university and maritime academy. If you’re a great and active student/cadet, you might be given some scholarships without even applying. Otherwise you can be one of the few that does apply and have a good chance at getting some of those scholarships. I would say it’s possible to get $2,000 to $3,000 in scholarships just from the university/academy each year pretty easily. Of course once you graduate, if you take on any student loans, you will be able to pay them all off within a year. As for scoring employment, it depends on how good of a engineer/deckie you’ll be. Each semester the university has a career fair, and companies will interview cadets. As engineer, as long as you can pass license on the first try, I can’t imagine that you will find a hard time getting a job. As for choosing between the engine room and deck, I recommend the engine room. You’ll learn a lot more practical engineering skills/knowledge that you can take to any engineering career field. Learning how to read charts and plot courses has a much limited scope. Of course going deck, you’ll most likely get to stay in the air conditioning a lot more than if you went engine. Though if workplace temp is the kind of thing that matters to you, you probably aren’t cut out for the maritime industry. Best of luck!

Regarding attending a maritime academy: I went to TMA (Texas Maritime Academy). As a cadet there, you get in-state tuition. After fees, cruises, etc - it should come to about $40,000 for 4 years. For one of those summers, you go on an internship. Most companies pay about $30 a day for cadets. I was lucky and sailed with HOS (Hornbeck) which was paying their cadets $150 a day. There are plenty of part-time jobs on Galveston island, some of which are maritime related, if you need to earn some money while going to school there. There are also quite a few scholarships provided by the university and maritime academy. If you’re a great and active student/cadet, you might be given some scholarships without even applying. Otherwise you can be one of the few that does apply and have a good chance at getting some of those scholarships. I would say it’s possible to get $2,000 to $3,000 in scholarships just from the university/academy each year pretty easily. Of course once you graduate, if you take on any student loans, you will be able to pay them all off within a year. As for scoring employment, it depends on how good of a engineer/deckie you’ll be. Each semester the university has a career fair, and companies will interview cadets. As engineer, as long as you can pass license on the first try, I can’t imagine that you will find a hard time getting a job. As for choosing between the engine room and deck, I recommend the engine room. You’ll learn a lot more practical engineering skills/knowledge that you can take to any engineering career field. Learning how to read charts and plot courses has a much limited scope. Of course going deck, you’ll most likely get to stay in the air conditioning a lot more than if you went engine. Though if workplace temp is the kind of thing that matters to you, you probably aren’t cut out for the maritime industry. Best of luck!

There’s so much in this one I’m not sure where to start…

  1. Foreign flag cruise ships – don’t go there. The reality is that most the hiring for those jobs are done by regional crewing agencies, so if you wanted a job you’d likely have to show up in Manila, or Jakarta, or Singapore, or somewhere similar. You’ll probably shell out more for an airline ticket that you’ll make in a year… there are much better options available.
  2. If you can’t find entry level positions, I don’t think you’re looking hard enough. Instead of searching for the jobs, search for companies and then contact them directly. Jobs in this industry usually come up on short notice, and the first person with their bags packed gets it. Some of my best and most interesting jobs were pierhead jumps.
  3. Maritime Academies – don’t overlook the fact that these are four year universities. Five figures is a lot of money if you are only looking to get your foot in the door, but you’ll graduate with a license and a bachelor degree – which can come in handy if you ever decide you want to work ashore again.
  4. West Coast – jobs aren’t as plentiful here as they are in the Gulf, but there are plenty of opportunities. Again, use the Internet to research companies based out here and then knock on their door.

[QUOTE=captobie;116236]There’s so much in this one I’m not sure where to start…

  1. Foreign flag cruise ships – don’t go there. The reality is that most the hiring for those jobs are done by regional crewing agencies, so if you wanted a job you’d likely have to show up in Manila, or Jakarta, or Singapore, or somewhere similar. You’ll probably shell out more for an airline ticket that you’ll make in a year… there are much better options available.
  2. If you can’t find entry level positions, I don’t think you’re looking hard enough. Instead of searching for the jobs, search for companies and then contact them directly. Jobs in this industry usually come up on short notice, and the first person with their bags packed gets it. Some of my best and most interesting jobs were pierhead jumps.
  3. Maritime Academies – don’t overlook the fact that these are four year universities. Five figures is a lot of money if you are only looking to get your foot in the door, but you’ll graduate with a license and a bachelor degree – which can come in handy if you ever decide you want to work ashore again.
  4. West Coast – jobs aren’t as plentiful here as they are in the Gulf, but there are plenty of opportunities. Again, use the Internet to research companies based out here and then knock on their door.[/QUOTE]

Thank you all for your pearls of wisdom. I have another question. What would you do in this scenario: The Seattle Maritime Academy at a community college has a 1 year program that, when completed, you will be a qualified QMED. The total price seems to be 8-10K, not sure if that’s for instate or out of state students. There is also a mariner’s union in San Francisco (MFOW) that, according to some posters on this forum, have wiper jobs available if you go down there and hang around. I’m pretty much in between those two cities. I can either enroll in Seattle, with their deadline quickly approaching, or go to San Fran, rent a hotel and show up every day at the union hall. What would you do if you were me? Anyone know anything about the MFOW and the likelihood of finding a wiper job if I go down there for say, 2 weeks? And if there are jobs, how many months would they typically be? I would want to get 6 in somehow in short order. Also does anyone know of a QMED 1 year course in Oregon? Clatsop has a 2 year AB program but at this point I’m leaning toward engineering and I don’t want to and can’t afford to take off 2 years of my life for schooling. 1 year, might be doable.

One thing that stuck out for me was your statement that, “I’m not a people person, which is one thing that attracts me to this profession.” What do you mean by “not a people person”? What makes you think that you don’t have to be a people person to get along with others in a confined space? I am not that experienced, but from the few times I’ve been on boats for long stretches with other crew, I have the opposite impression, that you have to be someone that likes and gets along with others in order to work well with them in confined quarters for long periods of time, as in the maritime industry. That is what attracts ME, to this profession. If you want to go sit in a corner and work by yourself, I think you need to find something else. There’s nothing wrong with being a loner, if it’s not due to some psychological issue. But you might be happier in a profession that doesn’t require constant team effort. I don’t think being at sea is less social than being on a construction site. Both scenarios require team players. Just imho. More experienced mariners will chime in and correct me if I’m wrong.

[QUOTE=MariaW;116449]One thing that stuck out for me was your statement that, “I’m not a people person, which is one thing that attracts me to this profession.” What do you mean by “not a people person”? What makes you think that you don’t have to be a people person to get along with others in a confined space? I am not that experienced, but from the few times I’ve been on boats for long stretches with other crew, I have the opposite impression, that you have to be someone that likes and gets along with others in order to work well with them in confined quarters for long periods of time, as in the maritime industry. That is what attracts ME, to this profession. If you want to go sit in a corner and work by yourself, I think you need to find something else. There’s nothing wrong with being a loner, if it’s not due to some psychological issue. But you might be happier in a profession that doesn’t require constant team effort. I don’t think being at sea is less social than being on a construction site. Both scenarios require team players. Just imho. More experienced mariners will chime in and correct me if I’m wrong.[/QUOTE]

“I’m not a people person” doesn’t mean that I’m a jerk. I’m perfectly fine working alongside other professionals and getting along with them. No problems there. I should have just said that I hate customer service jobs. I hate dealing with the public, smiling and taking abuse for the mantra that “the customer is always right.” I’m not a butt kisser, in other words. People get along fine with me and I get along fine with them.

Maybe your looking at this the wrong way, because starting a marine career at 37, your still going to deal with a boatload of bullshit. You are going to meet good and bad, but your stuck on a small vessel, as the lowest man on the totem pole, I would grow some thick skin, try it and see if you like it.

[QUOTE=oregonblitzkrieg;116457]“I’m not a people person” doesn’t mean that I’m a jerk. I’m perfectly fine working alongside other professionals and getting along with them. No problems there. I should have just said that I hate customer service jobs. I hate dealing with the public, smiling and taking abuse for the mantra that “the customer is always right.” I’m not a butt kisser, in other words. People get along fine with me and I get along fine with them.[/QUOTE]

I would think long and hard about this if I were you as there will be a certain amount of “customer is always right” involved in your new job. Assuming you find a position it will likely be with a company desperate enough to hire someone with no experience. Your customer will be your boss who likely may have more teeth than IQ. This customer may decide that what you need to do involves cleaning his toilet, cleaning his shower of hair along with unmentionable fluids and chipping rust that was there for years before he was blessed with your presence. You would be expected to complete these tasks with a smile and in prompt fashion [butt kissing]. After a year or so of this you could move up the ranks.
If it was easy everybody would be doing it…

[QUOTE=tengineer;116461]I would think long and hard about this if I were you as there will be a certain amount of “customer is always right” involved in your new job. Assuming you find a position it will likely be with a company desperate enough to hire someone with no experience. Your customer will be your boss who likely may have more teeth than IQ. This customer may decide that what you need to do involves cleaning his toilet, cleaning his shower of hair along with unmentionable fluids and chipping rust that was there for years before he was blessed with your presence. You would be expected to complete these tasks with a smile and in prompt fashion [butt kissing]. After a year or so of this you could move up the ranks.
If it was easy everybody would be doing it…[/QUOTE]

Yeah I know as a newcomer I will be taking some guff from a-holes on power trips who need to act this way to boost their own egos. Whatever, I’ll do my job, do it well and advance. The pay is worth putting up with occasional jerks. I don’t care to get involved in their ego trips, if it makes someone feel powerful to rag on the deckhands, that kind of person is a chump, let me do my work, you do your work and we all get along fine is the way I would look at it.

[QUOTE=tengineer;116461]Assuming you find a position it will likely be with a company desperate enough to hire someone with no experience[/QUOTE]
Your post was funny. Anyway, since everyone here was at one time or another hired with no experience, apparently there are enough desperate captains/companies out there who will hire people with no experience. How can you get experience if no one will hire you!