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A confession...and many questions...


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I've posted here intermittently in the past..I do intend to take a cruise to Hawaii but won't be leaving until next year...

 

And I have certain specific questions now because I'm writing a fiction book which takes place on a cruise ship to Hawaii and want to get started on it.

 

So I hope it's okay to ask questions, the answers of which will very likely be placed, somehow someway, in my book.

 

At the moment, my sole knowledge of a purser's duties is from vague memories of The Love Boat and Fred Grandy...too long ago to do me any good.

 

Which member of the crew has the most interaction with passengers - the purser or cruise director? Is there more than one purser - how can one person fill the needs of 2,000 or more passengers?

 

How does the sequence of events go on the first day?

 

Passengers come on board, and stay on deck for lifeboat drill while their luggage is taken to their rooms? Or they come on board, unpack, come back up as ship sails and *then* do lifeboat drill?

 

When do they meet the purser and cruise director? As each person steps on board, or is there a big ol' meeting to which everyone is invited to get briefed?

 

Thanks for any help!

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You have such quaint and rather funny ideas about cruises:). I hope you are able to take a few cruises before you write your book. In the meantime, you might want to read as many cruise reviews as you can from all the cruise lines that cruise to Hawaii. They will give you an excellent idea of what the average cruise is like. In addition to asking questions here, of course.

Edited by punkincc
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In the meantime, you might want to read as many cruise reviews as you can from all the cruise lines that cruise to Hawaii. They will give you an excellent idea of what the average cruise is like. In addition to asking questions here, of course.

 

Yeah... I'm wondering if cruise reviews will tell me the specifics I need to know without spending hours and hours reading over material that doesn't help.

 

So I'm hoping people here will share their knowledge with me by answering my specific questions and correcting my misapprehensions.

 

I will appreciate it greatly!

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I've posted here intermittently in the past..I do intend to take a cruise to Hawaii but won't be leaving until next year...

 

And I have certain specific questions now because I'm writing a fiction book which takes place on a cruise ship to Hawaii and want to get started on it.

 

So I hope it's okay to ask questions, the answers of which will very likely be placed, somehow someway, in my book.

 

At the moment, my sole knowledge of a purser's duties is from vague memories of The Love Boat and Fred Grandy...too long ago to do me any good.

 

Which member of the crew has the most interaction with passengers - the purser or cruise director? Is there more than one purser - how can one person fill the needs of 2,000 or more passengers?

 

How does the sequence of events go on the first day?

 

Passengers come on board, and stay on deck for lifeboat drill while their luggage is taken to their rooms? Or they come on board, unpack, come back up as ship sails and *then* do lifeboat drill?

 

When do they meet the purser and cruise director? As each person steps on board, or is there a big ol' meeting to which everyone is invited to get briefed?

 

Thanks for any help!

 

Take everything you know about cruising from the Love Boat and throw it out. It bore no resemblance to reality.

 

A purser's job is equivalent to a shoreside accountant. They keep the financial accounts, and handle the crew payroll. They really have almost no interaction with the guests, unless the guest has a problem with billing. There are 3 or 4 pursers onboard, headed by the Chief Purser.

 

There is no grand meeting of crew to passengers. There will frequently be both hotel and cruise staff assigned to greet guests at the gangway, but it is more of a "welcome aboard, the elevators are to your right" kind of meeting.

 

Embarkation starts usually well before the cabins are ready for occupants, so the guests will board and can wander around the ship for a couple hours. Once the rooms are ready, the guests can drop off their carry on bags, but frequently the baggage is not delivered to the cabins until late afternoon or evening, so there isn't a lot of unpacking. Shortly before sailing, all shipboard services will be suspended for the muster drill. Once this is completed, the "sail away" party usually starts shortly thereafter.

 

If you really want a realistic aura of cruising for your book, you absolutely need to have cruised yourself. It is way too much different from shoreside life to try to recreate it from third hand descriptions.

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I just noticed that Murder on the High Seas is free on Kindle this weekend.

 

http://www.amazon.com/Murder-High-Practical-Caregiver-Capers-ebook/dp/B0082CIMCQ/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1413078488&sr=1-1&keywords=murder+on+the+high+seas

 

Let me give everyone a hint. That's the best price for it. If you go there and its gone back to the regular price, give it a miss.

 

This book might be a good example on why its a good idea to know about cruising before writing a book that takes place on a cruise ship. I think its possible the author might have taken one cruise. Or perhaps talked to someone who's cruised and incorporated that information. It doesn't really matter. Same as with the Love Boat, its fiction, the author/screenwriter can take whatever allowances they want. Doesn't have to be factual. But when its not factual nitpickers who actually know the industry come out to nitpick. Ahem, that's why its called fiction.

 

The main flaw with this book is its title. There is no murder to solve, no whodunit. And what happened actually happened in Bermuda, not on the high seas at all! LOL! As a short story for entertainment and if its free and you can overlook the flaws, its OK.

 

To your questions - the cruise director and/or their staff interact more with passengers than the pursers. Depends on the ship but the cruise director and/or staff are usually running various entertainment options and mingling with the passengers before/after shows and games. The only exception would be the last time I was on the Zuiderdam and I can certainly understand why that C.D. slunk off and avoided the passengers! Worst C.D. EVER!

 

Luggage is brought to the rooms whenever on embarkation day. The ship usually blocks off half the elevators and has all kinds of staff hustling to get the luggage where it needs to go. I've always got my luggage before sailing and unpacked. Probably had it all done before lifeboat drill. Others seem to have their luggage take the scenic route and it doesn't show up till after dinner.

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Whatever happened to "write what you know"? Why would you even attempt it and risk exposing your lack of knowledge? It sounds like you've not only never cruised Hawaii but also never cruised anywhere, ever. If this is true, do yourself and your future reading public a big favor and at least take a short cruise from whatever port is closest to you. If you do your homework, you might find something in the $500-$800 range, have a great vacation, and learn a whole lot about your subject before attempting to write about it. Spend a lot of time walking around being very observant, listening, and asking questions. By the time your cruise is over, you'll know enough to be much more convincing. It could make a crucial difference in whether your readers are entertained enough to ever watch for your next book!

 

Edit: Just noticed you're from Cheyenne, so good luck with the 'closest port'! But... it's really worth making the effort. There are some short California coastal cruises that you might be able to manage.

Edited by Kartgv
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I've posted here intermittently in the past..I do intend to take a cruise to Hawaii but won't be leaving until next year...

 

And I have certain specific questions now because I'm writing a fiction book which takes place on a cruise ship to Hawaii and want to get started on it.

 

So I hope it's okay to ask questions, the answers of which will very likely be placed, somehow someway, in my book.

 

At the moment, my sole knowledge of a purser's duties is from vague memories of The Love Boat and Fred Grandy...too long ago to do me any good.

 

Which member of the crew has the most interaction with passengers - the purser or cruise director? Is there more than one purser - how can one person fill the needs of 2,000 or more passengers?

 

The Cruise Director has the most "group" interaction with the passengers. He/she makes annoying announcements via ship speakers, hawking everything from bingo, art auctions & jewelry sales. They often host games in the theater or poolside. They will introduce the Captain/Officers on "Meet the Captain" night. Some may be out and about greeting passengers all the time, while others are not as visible.

 

Individually, I'd say the people doing the service jobs have the most interaction with the passengers individually. This would be the room stewards, bartenders, waiters.

 

How does the sequence of events go on the first day?

 

Arrive at cruise terminal, hand off checked luggage to porters, wait in line to check-in, wait in line for security, wait in Lounge to board, board ship.

Find a drink, have lunch, explore ship or swim or sun.

Drop off carry on luggage when it is announced that the cabins are ready.

Go to muster drill, Sailaway, dinner, entertainment, bed.. Unpack when luggage arrives.

 

Passengers come on board, and stay on deck for lifeboat drill while their luggage is taken to their rooms? Or they come on board, unpack, come back up as ship sails and *then* do lifeboat drill?

 

When do they meet the purser and cruise director? As each person steps on board, or is there a big ol' meeting to which everyone is invited to get briefed?

 

Thanks for any help!

 

This is a lofty goal. You definitely need to take a cruise in order to understand what you plan to write about. Good luck.

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They don't even call them "pursers" anymore...now, they're "customer service" reps!

 

While those you meet at the Guest Services desk may be called Customer Service reps, or Guest Services reps, there will be normally a Crew Purser, Passenger Purser, sometimes a Financial Purser, and a Chief Purser in the back of the house that you will rarely see.

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Yeah... I'm wondering if cruise reviews will tell me the specifics I need to know without spending hours and hours reading over material that doesn't help.

 

So I'm hoping people here will share their knowledge with me by answering my specific questions and correcting my misapprehensions.

 

I will appreciate it greatly!

 

I could be wrong, but I would imagine that writers of the caliber of say Pulitzer Prize winner for literature Larry McMurtrey spent months, maybe years, of virtually full time work researching the background of their novels before ever writing the first sentence, so your comment about "hours and hours reading over material that doesn't help" surprises me.

 

Not saying that that amount of research is needed in your case, but short of doing multiple cruises yourself, the only way you are ever going to get any accurate insight into cruising is by reading lots of cruise reviews, blogs, and frequenting cruise forums like this one for nuggets of information. And I am talking about reviews posted on the main discussion boards, not the ones in the Cruise Review sections, which to me are worthless. Some of the threads and reviews posted on the discussion boards here are quite entertaining and I can easily pass a few hours here in what seems like minutes.

Edited by punkincc
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Whatever happened to "write what you know"?

 

As a writer, I can tell you that the real money is writing what you don't know. It means interviewing experts. I'm not a realtor nor do I know more about real estate than the average lay person who's bought and sold a couple of houses, but I've been well paid and published in a real estate magazine - by interviewing my expert. That's just one example. If writers wrote only what they know, that would be an essay and there aren't too many markets for essays and most don't pay well.

 

Travel writing articles are generally written by someone who has traveled to a destination, but more common these days are travel reporting. The writer might not have traveled there but has interviewed a person who has. I've done travel reporting too, again through interviews.

 

Just throwing it out there that the majority of writers do not write about what they know. Most of my writing income is from selling magazine articles. I have written some fiction books. One of my series takes place in Ohio where the main characters live. Aside from driving through Ohio in 1977 on our way to Ontario, I've never been to Ohio.

 

Research is necessary. For my novels I've interviewed experts to get a more realistic feel for something. For example a California surfer I interviewed to get the name of an L.A. beach good for beginners and what it feels like to wipe out. I took an hour's worth of surfing lessons in Waikiki Beach in 1978 which didn't make me an expert, but I have a bit of a feel and an interview with someone who could help my writing not appear fake helped. So it is possible to incorporate write what you don't know into fiction writing too.

 

To the op - pinkincc is correct. Do your research by reading some threads (Norwegian, Princess, and HAL) and talking to people who have cruised. There's a big difference between writing a realistic scene set on a cruise in Hawaii versus a fictional town set in Ohio.

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You have such quaint and rather funny ideas about cruises:). I hope you are able to take a few cruises before you write your book. In the meantime, you might want to read as many cruise reviews as you can from all the cruise lines that cruise to Hawaii. They will give you an excellent idea of what the average cruise is like. In addition to asking questions here, of course.

 

 

I would definitely advise you to take a few cruises so that you will get a feel for what it's like. Unlike nonfiction (as the writer above refers to) where you can talk to experts without being a true expert yourself, I would imagine that being on board an actual cruise would given you the ability to set the mood. And we're not talking about historical romances or science fiction that would be nearly impossible to experience first hand. When talking about writing on being on a regular cruise, there's really no reason not to experience the real deal, IMO. If you are flexible about itinerary and time of year, you can find really good deals on a cruise. Stay in an inside cabin if budget is a concern.

 

Of course, different cruise lines will do some things differently. On some lines, you can get on board before the cabins are ready, so you would have to sit someplace (like the casual dining room or a lounge) with your carry ons until you get the announcement. On other lines, when you get on the ship, you can go to your cabin.

 

Even muster drills are handled differently on different lines. Some are outside, some are in an inside lounge. Some involve taking the life jackets. Others not.

 

Most likely you will be making up a fictional cruise line and a fictional ship (that's what I did some years ago for a story -- I used the same itinerary from one of my cruises, but fictionalize every thing else).

 

But for the tiny touches that will make your novel more believable, there's nothing like going through the security check, enjoying a meal in the main dining room, playing trivia.

 

Personally, just about every novel that I've read that takes place on board a cruise ship makes me cringe. I don't think any of these writers have been on a real cruise, and that lack of credibility turns me off every time.

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On my last cruise (almost 1000 people aboard), I don't think I met the cruise director once, and the only ship's announcements were a daily update from the captain on sea days - well, except for the announcement about the muster drill. Other ships will have a different arrangement, and there will be someone running around introducing him/herself to passengers and inviting them to spend money on drinks and bingo games. On that trip, the only line up was to check in at security when I first got on board (to have my passport input and my swipe card (room access/financial account/ship ID) issued, but on other voyages I've been on, there were often line ups to get into the entertainment theatre and even to get on the ship.

 

What did I do the day I boarded? Walked up to the screening station for a few health questions and a quick health form (fever? vomiting? etc). Then onto the ship where my hand luggage was screened like in an airport, then I joined the security line to get my swipe card and relinquish my passport. Then I wandered around to get a look at the ship (it was new to me) and had lunch. Then to my cabin to do some unpacking until the muster drill was called.

 

I can't wait to do it again........My cruise starts in less than 2 weeks!

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  • 2 weeks later...
I've posted here intermittently in the past..I do intend to take a cruise to Hawaii but won't be leaving until next year...

 

And I have certain specific questions now because I'm writing a fiction book which takes place on a cruise ship to Hawaii and want to get started on it.

 

So I hope it's okay to ask questions, the answers of which will very likely be placed, somehow someway, in my book.

 

At the moment, my sole knowledge of a purser's duties is from vague memories of The Love Boat and Fred Grandy...too long ago to do me any good.

 

Which member of the crew has the most interaction with passengers - the purser or cruise director? Is there more than one purser - how can one person fill the needs of 2,000 or more passengers?

 

How does the sequence of events go on the first day?

 

Passengers come on board, and stay on deck for lifeboat drill while their luggage is taken to their rooms? Or they come on board, unpack, come back up as ship sails and *then* do lifeboat drill?

 

When do they meet the purser and cruise director? As each person steps on board, or is there a big ol' meeting to which everyone is invited to get briefed?

 

Thanks for any help!

 

As an avid reader I wanted to reply - love the books I read with a forward indicating "any inaccurate information is solely of the author :p".

 

I just returned from a New England/Canada cruise and it was so different from the back to back East/West Caribbean cruise I had previously taken. I also have a Southern Caribeen cruise scheduled for 2016 and on my bucket list is a Hawaiian cruise from a California port. That being said, I will do what I can to help with your "research";)

 

On the cruises I have been on the main person I saw at almost every public function was the Cruise Director and/or one of her staff. They are out there trying to get cruisers involved either in walking/dancing/trivia/bingo etc. The Cruise Director on our last cruise was the one who introduced the nightly shows. She also hosted our Meet and Mingle (CruiseCritic group get together).

 

The sequence of the first day can depend on different things that could happen from how fast you get through Security, when you board the ship, when your luggage arrives and what type of Dining options you chose. Basically, it is get through Security, get on the Ship, walk around eat, check to see if your luggage arrived, walk around, wait for muster, find a place to watch the ship move out to sea.

 

I don't mind providing ya with more information but I don't want to bore everyone on this thread so let me know if you want more details and maybe an email would be better.

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  • 10 months later...
As an avid reader, writer, and cruise enthusiast I have to tell you to either abandon your cruise idea or book a few cruises before you even think about writing a word. If you don't feel it, your audience will not either.

 

The end.

 

Since the OP hasn't been heard from since October of last year and there have been no posts from October until your post today, we hope you are not waiting for his/her response.

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  • 4 weeks later...
  • 2 weeks later...

Fiction can be as creative as your imagination will allow you. Feel free to make up a cruise line where the crew socialize and get to know the passengers.

 

Make up new titles for employees and draft fantastical job descriptions. Give each character an impossible backgrounds that makes the reader wonder how the crew got hired .

 

The passengers should be uber interesting and impossible adventures should happen to them on what seems like a seemingly routine cruise to Hawaii.

 

Everyone should /could work together to solve the crime and be put in impossible situations that they manage to get out of with a bit of wit, luck and coincidence.

 

Make you cruise that takes your reader on an adventure. Your story should have cruise lovers searching for this interesting cruise line and those who've never cruises on the quest to book cruise. Everyone will want to read the next book which of course all these characters undoubtedly reunite on another cruise to some other exotic locations for their next cruise with a few new characters thrown in.

Edited by candycaramel
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