Ship sail

What it’s like to work on a cruise ship

So what does it take to do its job well? Passion – a lot.

“You open and close the show. You are always in the spotlight. You have to be able to behave well, no matter what. You need to have the energy to elevate the vibe of the place. And to have that kind of energy, you have to have passion,” Chen said.

“When you have passion, you do your job with sincerity. The guests can smell it. And you also have to be good with people. They should feel welcome,” she added.

If all of this sounds exhausting, that’s because it is, which is why Chen has trained herself to always live in the moment.

“My mantra is ‘carpe diem’ or ‘seize the day’. When I’m on board I embrace the rhythm of ship life and when I’m on vacation I will focus on relaxing and spending as much time as possible with my family,” she said.

With the little time she has to herself on board the ship, Chen enjoys being alone in her cabin on the lower deck, doing what she describes as cheesy things like reading and writing. In fact, Chen has a book in China, written in Mandarin, called Chasing Dreams 100,000 Miles Around the World, which chronicles his adventures at sea.

“In this document, I share my unique experiences as a Chinese working in a transnational and multicultural environment; my personal advice for other young people trying to establish themselves in the job market; and the process of discovering what we value as individuals in work and life to truly become our best selves,” she said.

Chen thinks she’s at the peak of her career, but there’s still one dream she harbors: becoming a mom.

“I am grateful for the equal working environment on board, but life at sea is still not conducive to raising a family,” she said.

But Chen is hopeful. The next time she has a vacation – she usually takes two months off after four months of work and spends time at home with her family – she plans to freeze her eggs.

She will consider marriage when she “meets (the) right person”.

When the time comes, she believes she can work out an arrangement that can accommodate both the demands of cruising and motherhood with Royal Caribbean, “as has been the case with my female working colleagues.”