An Interview With A Deck Cadet

We’ve interviewed 19 year old James from the Isle of Wight who’s been working onboard MSC Fantasia as a deck cadet. He tells us how he got to be where he is, gives us an insight into life onboard and tells us about his goals for the future.

Can you tell us a little bit about you?

So I’m James, 19 years and I was born and raised on the Isle of Wight on the south coast of England. All my life I have had a connection with the sea through a range of activities from swimming to sailing to racing and support boating for divers. My main interests are mainly sailing and pretty much anything to do with the beach or nice warm weather and music festivals.

What made you decide to do this cadetship?

I’ve wanted to work in this profession since I was around 13 years old having gone on several cruises with my family and realising that being an officer is a career option and one that would best appeal to me. When I used to think about what I wanted to be I could never picture myself in an office with with a job I hated just to make money. I’ve always been an outdoor type person and I can’t cope with staring at screens all day. This is why I’ve chosen to be a deck cadet.

What’s the best part of your job?

The best part of the job has to be that you are working where people have summer holidays, so considering it’s work after all, it’s not a bad place to work. The sunrise and sunsets every day, the wildlife you see on passage, the clear starlit sky’s at night with no light pollution to affect it and actually seeing how these ships work, as nothing on land can even come close. The hours are very long and hard, it can be 10-12 hours of work a day and maybe 6 hours sleep but the rewards are well worth it!

And the worst?

The worse part for me is homesickness, for me I have a very good relationship with my friends and family at home so seeing things like my little brothers prom photos or seeing all my friends at music festivals does make it very challenging. Another difficult thing is people tend to forget that there is no thing as a day off, everyday the ship is working, no Sunday lie ins or anything like that. The sleep is short and broken at times depending on watch patterns, for me I start every morning at 3:30 AM and do 4am to 8am bridge watchkeeping and same in the afternoon with overtime in the afternoon which can be anything from a man overboard drill to a tank inspection down on deck 1 in engine room. Saying all this of course it’s hard but needless to say it is all very interesting and sometimes you take for granted all these things that some people may never see or experience!

How long are you at sea?

The contract with this company is 6 months onboard with around 2 months at home, different companies vary slightly, some 3;1 and some 4;2 so it just depends on the companies individual procedure.

What would you eat on a typical day onboard?

A typical day for me starts with breakfast after my 4-8am watch in the officers mess. The breakfast for us you can chose from a small range of cereals- corn flakes, bran flakes, rice crisps etc etc, cooked egg boiled scrambled or fried, toast, fruit salad, yoghurts and cold meats. For me I usually just start the day with some cereal, Greek yoghurt, fruit and maybe some eggs if it’s a big day. Lunch for me usually consists of rice and vegetables/pasta (any sort you can imagine!) with a range of meats or fish we have on board in the mess, pork, turkey, chicken, veal, salmon, shark, octopus, the list goes on and the dinner and lunch options are more or less the same except they give us wine at dinner times for us to have with our meal should we choose. But for all 3 meals we do have sparkling or still water on the table for us

What do you miss the most?

The things I miss most is my home in the summer. Where I live, the summer brings out the best of the island with all our beaches we have and nice outside space, so I would love to be out kayaking or paddle boarding at home or going for a skateboard with my friends. The World Cup is hard to follow especially when watching the England game in a language I cannot understand which can be a little frustrating especially when we are winning 6-0 against Panama! Yes of course I miss my family immensely but FaceTime or just a phone call makes you feel so much closer and puts you at rest. Sometimes it’s so busy you just forget about everything you miss!

Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?

In 5 years time I would hope to see myself either in position of or becoming a first officer or studying to become one, I’d like to be higher up than a 3rd officer and making my way up through the rankings. I’d like to still be working on passenger ships before I retire to ferries or working on with port operations when I want to have a family or whatever. But that’s my plan at the moment and certainly for the next 5 years I’d see myself on cruise ships for sure!

When he finds time James writes about his time working on MSC Fantasia here. There’s loads of interesting reads (He’s even seen whales!) So dig in.

Cruise Addicts Magazine Says…

“Thank you so much for answering our questions James, it’s been so interesting to hear what life on board a cruise ship is like when you’re not a passenger! Enjoy your lie ins when you do get home and we all wish you the best of luck in your future career.”

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9 thoughts on “An Interview With A Deck Cadet

  1. As previously working as a nurse on Celebrity Cruises can relate to the homesickness, but a brilliant experience too. Hope James gets to 1st officer soon!


  2. Working on a cruise ship is a great opportunity for young people to pursue a career that takes them across the world. This post is a great insight into working on a cruise ship, would be great to read a follow up post in a few years time to hear about how he’s progressed.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. What a fab wee peek behind the scenes… if I was younger, and not married, I’d prob pick that life too. Though, my parents prob would’ve done their best to stop me as they wouldn’t have wanted me to follow my dad’s footsteps. Uni and degree mattered more to them. And you couldn’t do anything maritime/cruise related in degree level back then…

    Liked by 1 person

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  5. Loved reading this interview! Can completely relate about how hard it is not getting a day off. I used to work six months on and six weeks off when I worked for P&O Cruises. I loved my job (Shore Ex) but sometimes you just need time to chill out away from passengers!

    Liked by 1 person

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