Thursday, February 23, 2012


As many of you that follow my blog know when I am emailed and asked questions I post those questions and answer them on my blog. I do this for the simple reason other may have the same questions and hopefully will benefit from my answers. Again I do not have all the answers and some other that work as acupuncturists may have different opinions. I do however answer honestly as to what I have experienced for now a little over a year or working on ships.

Also some might find the answers they are looking for already posted in my blog. I know there is over a years material there but hopefully you will not only find what you are looking for but enjoy other aspects of the blog as well.

I’ve also been asked to call to discuss my experiences but to be honest I really don’t have the time and it would be very expensive. Remember I am on a ship somewhere in the world and probably a long ways from where you live. Even skyping would be expensive for the most part either from the ship or just from my free time when in port. Also in port there really are not a lot of places that have a really fast connection.

I know that might sound rough and I am sorry but I have other things to do in port then syke with people. I really would like to post more then I do also. I initially wanted to post every week but I find it hard enough finding time to write and post what I do as it is. I hope those that have asked me to call them understand.

I’d like to state also that some have said that they have read reports from others how hard it is on you. That you may have a tough manager, and believe me I’ve heard the stories to and they do exist. Luckily I have had some really good managers and some not so good. Bottom line is you find that anywhere in any job you have in your life. The upside here is generally speaking managers come and go. You also come and go from ships. So you have to put up with an ass for a manager every now and then.

I also read a few things from people on how hard it is working the Steiner and on ships. Well first it is not for everyone. But to be honest on in particular made me laugh as he stated how tough his manager was, that we had to sell herbs and that he had to give seminars and generally market himself. I you come across this post I wrote him back stating “welcome to the real world”. Don’t you think you do that when you open up your practice? People do not flock to you just because you now have an office. You have to do all of this yourself or at least I did and every acupuncturist I know that is successful has done this and continues to do this to keep their practice going. I just felt this was from a person that just got out of school and/or just starting working for the first time in the real world. They call ir “work” for a reason…it’s work.

Before I started on ships I dealt with one for 15 years at the Sun Valley Resort in Sun Valley, Idaho. It was the only game in town so I put up with it even though everyone I worked with knew the guy did not like me at all. And from what I have heard from friends that are still working there he still has no clue how to run a spa. Well he is still there and I am traveling the world…

               Schedule & keeping boundaries of 52 hours
For the most part it has been my experience that as an acupuncturist you make your own schedule. The only time this doesn’t happen is maybe the first week or two when you first get to your ship. Then you follow the schedule that the acupuncturist before laid out. This is actually to your advantage as he/she already knows the ropes on that particular ship. As long ass you make your revenue I have found the managers pretty much leave you alone to “do your thing”. I have now had five managers and found this to be true with each one.

               Best boats/ tours
This is absolutely subjective. It is all about what you are looking for and what you want out of your contract. I am in a moneymaking mode. I want to be as busy as I can be and right now the travel is a bonus. Also I personally like smaller ships as compared to bigger. The Rhapsody has around 2,300 guests and I would not mind maybe another 1,000 but I really do not want a ship like the Dream that had over 5,000 guests. I just find the smaller spa crew fits me better.

As far as tours I want to see it all. On the Carnival Dream I did the Caribbean and saw Cozumel, Costa Maya, St Thomas, St Maarten and Roatan, which I really liked. We also saw Belize and Nassau, which I was not a big fan.

Here on the Rhapsody I have spent time in Alaska, Hawaii, Tahiti, Moorea, Bora Bora, New Zealand, Australia, New Caledonia, Vanuatu, Fiji and next stop in 4 days is Bali where I end my contract and go on vacation before returning to the Rhapsody again for another contract. Some places I liked better then others but overall I really liked this ship and the places we have gone.

As of now I am confirmed on the Freedom in September/October. We will go to the Caribbean and visit my favorite places there and a few places I have not been yet.  The only thing that might change is when the Liberty becomes available. I do not want a lot of time off and if it fits my schedule I might choose it instead of the Freedom.

At some point I will travel everywhere I hope. I want to go to South America, the Mediterranean, the Baltic’s…everywhere. It all depends what ships are available as to where I go at any given point in time.

Now on that subject you are able to choose what ship you want to go on for the most part. Stephanie Kimber is in charge of this and will let you know what is available. She will also use her experience as far as what ship she thinks may be a better fit for you and your experience.

Once you are doing a contract it has been my experience about 2 month before you finish Stephanie will contact you and as k you if you would like to do another contract. She will also let you know what ships are available. It is also important for you to know that the ships you may or may not get depend on how you do during your contract. If you are doing well and making revenue the better the chance of getting the ship you want. It only stands to reason and you cannot fault the company. The most productive acupuncturists go on the ships that have a tendency to be the money producers. After all Steiner is a business. If you are doing poorly and not making any revenue then I am guessing you get a ship that may not be one of the top producers. Or maybe if this type of work is something you are just not cut out for you will not be offered another ship. Fortunately I do not fall into this category and I have been able to get each ship I have requested so far.

               Biggest challenges
The biggest challenge for me was making a switch from teaching seminars to giving seminars. For years I have taught seminars to students and those needing CEU’s but teaching seminars for the specific purpose of booking appointments is different.

Now would say it is one of my favorite things to do. I enjoy interacting with the guests. I like the challenge of getting guests to become patients. And believe me at times it is a challenge. I’m sure there are those out there on ships that are much better at doing this then I am but I am learning and continuing to do my best. Some days I get a lot of guests, other days I don’t. Some times I get a lot of bookings, some times I don’t. So luck also plays into it a bit.

A good friend of mine who taught college once to me the secret to teaching is first know what you are talking, second be prepared and third make them laugh. That way they are always paying attention and waiting to see what you have to say next. I’ll add be yourself, be genuine and honest. They can tell in a heartbeat if you are in it just for the money and trying to “bs” them.

               Best take away / learning 
See the above answer. But I will add that I have made some great friends on the ships I have been on, some for life. I have traveled to some beautiful places and seen other cultures…all that and I am being paid to do so.

I’ve spoken about a past shipmate in my blog, James. He left the ship about a month ago and just finished playing in Rio for Carnival. I remember more then once we would be hanging out say at the pool in Vila or on the beach on Bora Bora or fishing on the Great Barrier Reef and we would look at each other and say…”and we get paid to be here”. On that note I have saved more money working on ships then in private practice too. So that qualifies and a “best take away”.

               Male vs female—as employee, for superiors, safety concerns
To me none of this matters at all. No matter where you go, what company you work for etc this is going to be in your life. I get along with anyone for the most part. There are good managers and there are bad mangers, there are good coworkers and there are bad coworkers. Just try and stay above the drama that happens in any work place and you will be fine. As far as safety being on a ship is probably the safest place you will ever work. Everyone knows that if you cause a problem in any manner you could loose your job. It really does not seem to be a problem from what I have seen.

               Spa workers/ colleagues—friend or foe?
Again see the above answers. It is all up to you. If you have a problem with a certain person just stay away. If it become a real problem talk to the manager about it. This happens in any life situation. Just stay above any drama, be professional. Everyone has their group of “friends” just like anywhere but I will say for the most part I have seen very few problems and even fewer turn into a big problem.

               Food and extras – how much $ to budget for 1st month and thereafter
That really all depends on you and your wants and desires. I have come onto the ship with very little in my pocket or my bank account. You will have cash in your pocket at the end of every cruise with your tips. Many people live on their tips alone and do not even touch your paychecks. On board your room and food are taken care of as part of you contract. You do have to pay $10 a week to you cabin steward. But he/she cleans your room, makes your bed and cleans your bathroom. Here on the Rhapsody it is about every 2-3 days. On the Dream I was spoiled, it was everyday and he would even take my laundry to be clean and pressed. Which is also free as far as you uniforms go. Your “regular” clothes you do yourself and here the use of the washers and dryers are free.

The Internet on the Rhapsody is expensive for wifi. It runs in a prepaid package $.18 per minute and on the Dream it was $.10 per minute. In the crew internet it is $.06 per minute. Other then that there are places to buy munchies etc. and beer at the crew bar is around $1 a beer.

               Health management and time
I’m not sure what you mean by this. There are two doctors on every ship and your healthcare is provided while under contract. Other then that you health really has a lot to do with you as a person doesn’t it?

               Prep prior to boarding—what to pack, types of shoes & outfits  
Here you are going to have to do some research. I’ve covered this a few times. Generally speaking bring as little as you can get away with as you can always by more usually for less. Go through the blog and you will find a breakdown probably towards the beginning of the blog. I will at this point state to make sure you have comfortable shoes. You will be standing on steel 10 hours a day. A lot of the spa girls including myself where “crocs”. There are some that look just like work/dress shoes. You will have to find them in a “Croc Store”. I just bought a new pair in Brisbane and they are extremely comfortable.

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