As soon as I graduated in July 2012, I applied to work for Disney Cruise Line. I got the job in October and flew to Vancouver, Canada in May 2013 for my Disney Traditions training. They put me up in the Hilton where I stayed with some amazing guys who were also joining as new hires. The week was full of food, alcohol, exams, pool training and the last few days in our own room for the next 6 months..
Many people have messaged me asking how you get into this type of work, as long as you have 2 years experience in the work you’re applying for, have a good interview (of course) and can work up to 92 hours a week with no days off for your entire contract (which can be up to 7 months long!!) then you’re IN! Oh and you have to smile 25 hours a day/ 8 days a week, do magic tricks and don’t panic when the emergency alarm goes off because an engine blew up at 10pm in the middle of the sea…
I completed 2 contracts on the Disney Wonder, the second oldest ship out of the fleet of 4. It really was an amazing experience and I have met life long friends from all over the world; South Africa, Thailand, The Philippines, Croatia, Jamaica, India, America, Kenya, Portugal, Turkey and many more. I earned my ‘ears’ after my first month on board and passed an Introductory Sommelier Course during my 2nd contract.
The ship was tough work but allowed me to travel to many places some of which I would never have even thought to go to. I visited these places many times as we did repeat cruises throughout my 2 contracts. I also took part of a dry dock which is where the ship had to come out of water and have a thorough clean and renovation (thanks to some engine trouble!) so I got to spend my birthday in the Bahamas having a BBQ with all my friends on the beach at night! My 2nd Disney Birthday and both times I had a cake thrown in my face! During dry dock, I got to go on the bridge of the ship as well as under the engine room to help the guys out there! On our big group photo at the end I also got to touch the propellers – which isn’t a common occurrence!
All in all it was amazing experience and I got to take part in many things – new movie premieres, crew parties, crew award ceremony, dry dock, beach parties, open mic, BBQs on deck, deck parties, crew excursions, watch Disney shows, go on other Disney ships, watch firework displays (with Disney being the only cruise company to have fireworks and they are somehow edible for the wildlife!), work pirate night, sail through Alaska with the northern lights, have free passes for all Disney parks and so much more! I’m very lucky to still be in touch with my guests and have a huge folder full of thank you letters, cards, pictures and gifts given to me.
Working at sea, I was also able to witness the most beautiful sunsets..
So here are the places I was lucky enough to visit. I visited some of these places many times, Alaska being my absolute favourite!
Vancouver is such a beautiful City and was our home port on our Alaska season which is where we picked up and dropped off the guests that cruised with us. The season was around 6 weeks and I was there every Saturday. Some times I had to work and some times I had lunch time off. I ate at some amazing restaurants in Vancouver, shopped A LOT and I know where all of the WIFI spots are!! The cruise around Alaska and Vancouver was unbelievable, we saw whales and dolphins every day in the distance and sometimes jumping at the back or side of the ship.
- Skagway, Alaska
Skagway was our first port of call in Alaska during the cruise and is very popular with cruise ship tourism. It’s a very interesting place to visit with a history of mining and to cope with the approximate 900,000 visitors throughout the summer months, they have the White Pass and Yukon Route narrow gauge railroad to travel around. It’s a very old fashioned town with a population of around 1000, there are many jewellery stores and they sell popcorn in EVERY flavour!!
- Sitka, Alaska
Sitka was an added extra point of call in my second contract which is close to Jeauno, the state capital! We docked in once a week for the Alaska season and it was just beautiful!
- Jeuno, Alaska
Jeuno is the state capital and one of my favourite places to go in Alaska! With so many different excursions including whale watching through the ice glaciers, dog sledding it’s difficult to stay on board to catch up on sleep! I ate at a lot of different places around the port with one being up in the mountains. Me and a group of friends were enjoying a nice meal and of course free WIFI when a wild bear came right up to our window!
I took these pictures myself through the window but I couldn’t believe how lucky I was to finally see one! Lots of guests saw them weekly on excursions but with the hours I worked I wasn’t always able to venture out much. In the end, a guy who worked in the restaurant went out with a bear stick and made as much noise as possible to avoid anyone getting hurt! I did manage to FaceTime my Mom with the bear on camera which she wasn’t expecting! An amazing place to eat here is the famous Tracy’s King Crab Shack… free wifi, fresh crab and the opportunity to sit outside (where it’s not always that cold!) and see bald eagles! Another one of my favourite places to go was Red Dog Saloon, swinging doors, sawdust on the floor, live country music and amazing burgers!
- Ketchikan, Alaska
Ketchikan is known as the Salmon capital of the world! I really did love it here, lumberjack shows, so many good places to eat and lots of shopping to be done!
Ketchikan is also the place where I managed to do a whale watching excursion on a small boat through the ice glaciers, whilst some friends saw orca whales, I was able to see humpback whales and learn so many interesting facts about them. Did you know humpback whales don’t actually have teeth but instead they have baleen plates with bristles attached to them? There you go..
- Tracy Arm Fjord, Alaska
This was my favourite part about the whole Alaska trip and one of the best things I have ever seen in my life! Every Tuesday in our Alaskan season, we sailed down Tracey Arm through mountains to see a huge ice glacier. There was always someone from the local area narrating the journey which had to stop at a certain point so as not to disturb wildlife (whales, dolphins, seals, mountain goats etc). The water was a glacial blue colour from the icebergs all around. We were allowed to drink hot chocolate and eat cookies whilst watching the seals and their cubs on the icebergs and natural waterfalls in the mountains. We were here every week of the Alaskan season for both of my contracts and every time I saw these views it was as if it was the first time The pictures I have are amazing but nothing compares to being there…
LA was such a great place to visit, we docked up and me and a few friends managed to get out for a lovely lunch. Unfortunately, due to strict immigration reasons not all of the crew were allowed off the ship which is difficult to be told after you haven’t been on land in a week and want some proper food and free WIFI to speak to family! I was lucky to be able to get off but for the people who were allowed off, we weren’t allowed to take any electronic devices off board so I wasn’t able to take any pictures. We did a bit of shopping and all bought I ❤ LA T-shirts which thinking back I probably could have got one cheaper from eBay.
- San Fransisco
I love San Fransisco!! I managed to get there about 4 times on the ship to San Fransisco Bay. We sailed under the Golden Gate bridge and docked at Pier 39. I made sure I spent ALL my free time out, eating food, drinking cocktails, buying souvenirs and magic tricks to use with my guests and sat with ice cream where the seals like to make a lot of noise! One of my favourite places to ear here was the Wipeout Bar and Grill! I didn’t get chance to visit the Alcatraz but I flew back in 2016 to go because it’s something I always wanted to do!
- San Diego
San Diego was a one day trip for us and at the time I was in desperate need of a suitcase! So I spent my free time eating, drinking, free WIFI and buying 2 big suitcases… THAT IS ALL! That week, we had 3 very inspiring Master Sommeliers onboard teaching us about the wonderful world of wine so I had to spend a lot of time studying on top of my working week and lots of wine tasting of course… but HEY I PASSED!
- Galveston, Texas
Galveston was our homeport for a while, so I spent a lot time here and I really did love it. I did lots of shopping and eating of course and was always in the free WIFI crew shop! I was there around Halloween time so lots of the shops were decorated over the top but it was a lot of fun!
- Key West, Florida
Key West in Florida was amazing and always beautiful weather. I used to eat at my favourite Sushi place here almost every time we went and did lots of clothes shopping! There was a lovely aquarium and butterfly farm close to where the ship docked too.
- Miami, Florida
We were lucky enough to do an overnight stay in Miami where the crew were allowed to get off the ship and actually be outside at night (we hardly did overnight stops so we were hardly ever out in the dark!!). Miami was our home port for a while when we moved over that way and we mainly used to get a taxi to the big outside shopping centre in Downside Miami, Bayside. I also took a trip down to South Beach and had some food on the beach front and visited a salon too to get my nails done and also of course some more shopping.
- Cozumel, Puerto Vallarta and Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
We visited 3 ports in Mexico with Cozumel being the one we visited the most. The weather was always amazing every time we went and one time there was a huge carnival party! Me and a lot of the crew visited No Name Bar where we just automatically connected up to the WIFI (of course) and got to sunbathe on the beach and swim in their pool and the sea and of course eat good food and drink amazing cocktails!
We often visited Hooters Bar as it was right outside where the ship had docked and ate a some local places where we were served a fish eye…. ew. There were lots of excursions available for the crew and guests – me and my good friends went zip lining in Cozumel and also swam with dolphins twice and went snorkelling with tropical fish at Chankanaab National Park.
- Cartagena, Colombia
I visited Colombia during the Panama cruise (which was a long 14 night cruise!) The weather was beautiful and I visited a Nature Park. This lovely parrot decided to bite a chunk out of my new watch…annoying
- Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands
I managed to visit the Cayman islands many times though it was a bit of a nightmare to get to land as we had to wait for the tender boats! It was so hot here and all I did was walk down to this amazing beach bar and eat and swim in the sea.. oh yes and WIFI!
- Nassau, Bahamas
We seemed to go to Nassau a lot! Señor Frogs was a popular place to go and we got to do an overnight stay there too!! We docked at the same time as the Disney Dream where we had a Horn Battle which is always fun! I got a small boat over to Atlantis and me and some friends went to the casino there too. I love the Bahamas!!
- Disney’s private island, Castaway Cay, Bahamas
So I also got to work off the ship when we cruised round the Bahamas on Disney’s private island – Castaway Cay! The island is amazing – you can snorkel with turtles and so many other activities. We had a beach BBQ every time we went, got to chill out in hammocks and swim in the crystal clear sea.. I can’t wait to go back again !
- Panama Canal
When we sailed through Panama Canal, we got to go out on our crew deck to see .There were hundreds of people on land waiting for us to go through and they were all cheering and waving as we did! It was aired on their national TV and Mickey and Minnie came out to say hello too!
Jamaica is really worth visiting. We docked in Falmouth and some friends onboard lived relatively close to the port so we got picked up and taken out to Dunn’s River Falls and Park. After walking around the natural waterfalls, we stopped off for some lunch and the most tropicalist (thats not a word I know) fruit plate ever – I tried nesberry for the first time and have never found it since (please tell me if anyone knows where else I can find this fruit!!) Then we ordered rum and red bull (because that was the in song at that time) and they serve you a can of red bull and bottle of rum EACH…. Before getting back on the ship, we went round a local market and drank fresh coconut water and visited Margaritaville for a few margaritas!
If anyone has any questions about applying or working for Disney Cruise Line, let me know here. I’ll always be happy to help!