Everyone who has been on a cruise ship has a favourite spot onboard, and for many, that place is the bar.
Whether they’re in search of a refreshing lemonade or an extravagant cocktail concoction, there’s a lot to take in, with no few liners opting to deck their bars out in all the glitz and glamour they have to offer.
Celebrity Cruises, for example, have recently collaborated with designer Nate Berkus for their new Sunset Bar, and two separate spaces reserved for the ship’s crew.
For years avid cruise goers have wondered what goes on in these forbidden realms, and now, thanks to David Smiedt’s vast onboard experiences, curious souls can put their questions to rest – though the answers may not be quite as exciting, or things quite as dramatic, as they’d hoped.
As he explained for Escape, it isn’t – under any circumstances – possible for passengers to hop back into the crew bars for a look around, and especially not for a drink.
And contrary to popular belief, they aren’t particularly lavishly decorated, so there isn’t much to see back there anyway. Typically, David said, they are “furnished in stuff from the cruise boat deemed a bit too out of fashion for modern paying guests.
“As a result, the aesthetic is a bit of a hodge podge with mismatched couches, chairs and – oftentimes – a video jukebox.”
But rest assured, despite the lacklustre decor, the crew make sure there’s room for a well-loved dance floor.
And forget finding a four-course meal hidden away in there, as “unless you’ve made previous arrangements with the mess for a special occasion like a birthday, there ain’t a lot to eat.”
Employees can secure themselves a drink though, at a “heavily subsidised” rate no less.
“It would hardly be fair to begrudge your hard working crew a drink at the end of the day,” David pointed out. “It would be even more unfair to charge them the same as the passengers who make cruising the profitable venture it is.”
And while things can be a little on the quiet side during the day, the crew find their own ways to entertain themselves – with a large portion of them turning to FIFA in their downtime.
“The competition is intense and the skill level [is] off the charts,” David noted. “The matches are seriously some of the best entertainment on board.”
It’s a whole new world – or ocean – at nighttime, however. As David explained, anyone who’s been out on the open ocean on the cruise of a lifetime will have “noticed that the crew tends to divide into two main categories”.
“The first is those who have been on the sea for decades and are often sending money home for families,” he said. “They are often a bit older and fiercely disciplined about maintaining their budget.
“The second are the freshly scrubbed young folk in their 20s who are living a life of adventure on the ocean. Not long out of home, they work and play hard. And so they should.”
David assured that they have their fun – within reason and regulation – but that, at the end of the day, it’s still a crew-only affair.
Or as David put it, “once again, sorry, you’re not allowed.”
This article first appeared on Over60.