‘Guys would have a girlfriend who lived in their cabin – they’d move out when the wife came on board’
Former cruise ship worker wrote a fiction novel based on her experiences. She says it is not the glamorous life everyone thinks it is. Cheating was rife among the team and accepted as the norm. Her book is half based on what she experienced on board. Revealed that the average ratio is eight men for every woman. Says often male workers would marry American women to get a visa
While the life of a cruise ship staff member appears glamorous and enviable, there is a darker world beyond the surface that even passengers aren’t aware of.
Brisbane local Cathryn Chapman, 40, spent years travelling the world and working on cruise ships, first working at an on-board photo shop in her twenties, before returning later on and working as a cruise staff member as part of the entertainment team and social host.
After years of wild nights, lies and a broken heart, Ms Chapman, who is now married with a baby boy, decided to use her experiences to write her debut novel, Sex, Lies and Cruising, a fictional account inspired by some of the more crazy times she had aboard.
Speaking to Daily Mail Australia, Ms Chapman revealed the promiscuity and cheating on board is what shocked her the most and turned her off working on ships.
‘When I was 22 I started a relationship with the staff captain who is second in command, and I thought he was wonderful and we always had a laugh,’ Ms Chapman said.
That was Ms Chapman’s first introduction into what cruise ships were really like because as it turned out, this was normal behaviour.
‘Cheating was so rife that people were cheating on their partners at home, and then they would cheat on their partners on the ship while they were asleep or working…it was really bad.’
‘What I found quite shocking was people would have a girlfriend who lived in the cabin with them and then if the wife was coming on board they would move out the night before, stay away for two weeks while the wife was visiting, and then move back after she left like nothing had happened…I was no angel but I couldn’t believe it.’
Ms Chapman said many of the men justified their actions by assuming their wives were doing the same thing back home.
‘Some of the guys had married American women which helped them get a visa, and the women would be at home and able to do what they wanted and the men could do what they wanted, and it was insinuated that it was mutually beneficial,’ she said.
Ms Chapman also found that she had a heap of surface level friends that didn’t really care about her, even when she thought otherwise.
‘I was dating an Italian officer on the ship for a month and when I asked him whether he had seen anyone else on the ship he revealed he was dating 10 other women at that time like it was nothing,’ Ms Chapman said.
‘I was upset and venting to my best girlfriend on the ship about it…but then that night at the crew bar the officer came in and they both left together, and she winked at me over her shoulder!’
‘There were so many people, the ratio was something like eight men to one woman and as a woman you don’t need to devalue yourself in that way, you can just pick someone who isn’t married or in a relationship.’
With the staff members on board for up to ten months at a time seeing the same destinations and people all the time, Ms Chapman says the staff members were bound to go a bit crazy.
‘People had no remorse, it was just an accepted part of their lives,’ she said.
Though the experiences Ms Chapman had during her time on board make up about 50 per cent of her book, she found it hard to put across the real destruction that the debauchery causes and labels her book the ‘vanilla’ version of events.
‘I went through heart break and was absolutely devastated and certainly didn’t put the characters through the depths of devastation that I went through after I thought I had found someone with significant future potential and realised they were cheating on me,’ she said.
‘On the one hand I would do things differently and stay out of the party scene a little bit if I had my time over, but on the other, the experiences have made me who I am and have allowed me to write this book and the sequel which I am writing now, and hopefully many more,’ she said.
Sex, Lies and Cruising will be available on July 16 from Amazon.com and other online retailers.
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