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Credit: Princess Cruises/Hannah Howie

Cruise secrets: Singer reveals what life is really like below deck from romance to difficult guests

Author: Laura Ellsessar

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A cruise singer for Princess Cruises has revealed the behind-the-scenes details of crew life on everything from staff relationships to missing family.

Living and working onboard a cruise ship can be an exciting yet challenging time for crew. So, what really goes on behind the scenes?

Hannah Howie has been a performer for Princess Cruises since 2018 and gave us a behind-the-scenes peek into the realities of sea life and the relationships that form along the way.

Howie describes how the “crew are just people as well and our social lives onboard are very important and rich.”

Working for long periods and forming close bonds with fellow crew members means “a lot of people end up dating in long term relationships and end up getting married and actually finding their life partner, whilst they're at sea.”

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Howie also revealed that while the crew may be living and working in the same place, they do find ways to have their own time for fun. Hannah divulged: “We have our own crew bar, which is underneath and is open till late, so it's like Dirty Dancing, in that we all work during the day and we party at night.”

When working with the public, the crew often have to deal with a range of passengers. Hannah gushed that “you get some amazing people who are very fresh to cruising and they're just really hungry for it all and everything's exciting and new” and also those who regularly take cruises and “are so supportive in a different way just because they have that loyalty and they know what to expect.”

- READ MORE: Alex Murphy: Pro skater & ex cruise worker discusses crew life -

Yet Hannah also made known that not everyone can be cooperative with the crew’s efforts to make the trip a pleasant experience.

Difficult people are part of every industry and Hannah says patience is the way to deal with those challenges: “It's just about accommodating and working out how best to mitigate for their cruise, make sure they have a good holiday as well.”

She also wished to remind passengers that “behind every single uniform there are many people who have been living and working at sea for many years and they do nine-month contracts to support a family who is back home.”

“I've got access to a theatre... and I can put on my own show," Hannah said of performing at sea. Credit: Hannah Howie

Missing and being apart from family is perhaps the worst part of cruise life to Hannah. She describes how “the hardest thing is saying goodbye, at the airport.” As crew members often sign contracts for six months or longer, they will be saying goodbye for quite a long time.

To new people joining the crew, Hannah recommends “contacting family and friends, keeping in touch with the news, making sure you don't forget what's happening in the big bad world” to stay grounded.

- READ MORE: Best places to cruise in Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific -

Family also defines some of Hannah’s favourite cruise destinations. Destinations like Hawaii and New Zealand have stood out to the singer as she was able to explore these rich locations with her mum and dad.

Even with all its difficulties, being a part of the crew and enjoying the opportunities this brings has made the experience for Hannah. “I've got access to a theatre which holds 2,000 people, and I can put on my own show and do that in a really supportive environment with a whole tech team behind me. That's just something that I wouldn't get on land at all unless I forked out over £50,000,” Hannah explains.

Hawaii is a favourite destination for Hannah after creating great memories there with her family. Credit: Shutterstock

The shows themselves take a lot of work both on and off the ship. While passengers may attend a two-hour performance, the show has often been planned and rehearsed for months in advance.

Hannah described her rehearsals “like a game of battleships in terms of the blocking - and blocking is just basically the geography for yourself on stage as a performer.” The amount of choreography and time spent going over and over a performance proves the dedication of the crew to the enjoyment of the passengers.

- READ MORE: Jane McDonald on cruise tips and having a 'bloody good time' -

Hannah spoke of her admiration for well-known cruise singer Jane McDonald and how she’s “really great at just conveying all the kind of different parts of cruising you can enjoy as well as the things we know will always be there.”

Hannah’s main goal for the future is to pave a way of her own and encourages passengers to “be patient with the industry, it's just getting back on its feet now.”

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