We caught up with cruise ship guest relations officer Dusko Zafirovski, who is originally from Macedonia, to find out what it’s like to travel the world for work.
What do you do on the cruise ship?
I am a guest relations officer on a cruise ship. We work 24 hours. The reception desk is open all the time. I’m doing the night shift now, so I work from 11pm until 8 in the morning. But it’s good. Night shift is slow. Nothing is going on.
Actually today is embarkation day, which means all guest left and new guests are coming. So it’s going to be busy. For Christmas cruises, we sometimes have up to 500 kids. It’s tough to deal with kids. They fall, they lost their keys all the time. It’s challenging, but I like the work.
What do you like most about it?
Traveling. Our contract is six to eight months. It all depends. This year, I’m doing Asia only. So we’re doing Hong Kong, Vietnam, Thailand, Singapore, Philippines, Australia, Tahiti, Hawaii. It’s pretty amazing.
The Caribbean is nice, but I want to see more than the beach, because I spent, like, two years there… and it’s nice, you know, but I want to see more. You get to go to places that you didn’t know existed before. For sure I know about Hong Kong, but I didn’t know about some places in Vietnam and Taiwan.
Is it difficult to be away from home for such a long time?
After six months on the ship, I return home for two or three months. Now I have a baby, so I stay home more often. It’s very challenging. I can only see him on video and on Skype. Every day he’s different because he’s growing up.
You miss a lot on cruise ships. A lot of birthdays, weddings. Some of them can wait for you, but not everyone. My sister waited for me to come home to her wedding.
I try to spend time with friends and family as much as I can when I go home. But the weird thing is when I’m back home, I’m on vacation, and so I think my friends and family are also on vacation, but, no, they are working. They cannot come be with me whenever.
You have a very nice camera! You said you’re into photography. Why is that?
I spent three years together with my wife on the ship. I met her at home and then I started working on the ship. She visited me on the ship, liked it, and applied for the job.
We worked three years together, and now she’s home with the baby. We traveled most of the world together. So I bought a nice camera to capture the memories.
What’s your traveling style?
Wherever I go, I find out the top 10 things to do there. I have the entire day off today, so I have time, and I don’t really need an agenda. But if you only have five or six hours, you don’t want to waste time.
Usually, the crew members are very organized. We have five hours off, we know exactly which bus to take, where to go, which shop to go to, sometimes we call the shop before. “Do you have the new iPhone? Can you keep it for me?” Because you don’t want to waste time.
When the guest comes to me, I have to be the expert of Hong Kong, even though it’s my first time here. I can tell them I’ve never been here, but I need to know the rates, transportation, where is Disneyland, where is the airport, how much is the taxi? You need to know all these things for the guests. I learned a lot about Asia during this trip.
But it must be exhausting at times.
Yes. So, yesterday I decided I’d only do one thing. I had a good sleep, I went to Star Wars, and I went back.
Where would you recommend we travel to next?
Istanbul, Turkey. It’s close to where I live. It feels like home. If you’ve never been there, I recommend you do. Amazing history, amazing people, amazing food, everything. And also Honolulu, Hawaii.
Is it hard when people you meet are always leaving? Once you make a friend, it might be time for them to leave the cruise ship.
This is, yes, very difficult. You can see people crying all the time. Always, we do farewell parties. We get wasted. But it’s funny you always somehow meet the same people. When you go, you’d meet someone from three years ago, and you’re like best friends once again.
A friend of mine, we worked on a cruise ship three times together. She cried twice when we had to say goodbye. You never know if you’re gonna work together again.
What did you do in Hong Kong today?
I spent half a day in Kowloon Bay. Wanted to go to The Peak, but the waiting time was two hours, so I decided to forget about it. I saw the pictures of the tram on the internet, and I’d really like to ride the tram. I really want to do the light show, and then I have to go back to the cruise ship.