Monday, February 6, 2012


Now I want to answer some questions from some of you that I have not had time to address. I am posting them here, as there might be others with the same questions. I also want to make it absolutely clear I do not know everything by and stretch of the imagination. I write about my experiences and I tell the truth in what I find good and bad. It may seem like a lot of good but I enjoy this and it is a good fit for me. It may not be for you but there is only one way to find out. Also there are many acupuncturists that are far better at their profession then I am and know far more then I do again I can only write about what I find and know.

I’m not sure if you are asking about being an acupuncturist. I am answering question as if you are.

“How formal is the group interview?” “At the group interview they mentioned a theory and trade test--what is it like?”
When I went to the training in LA it was in a classroom situation. We listened to the information given to us from Stephanie, were allowed to ask questions and then gave our presentation. Everyone critiqued the presentation and constructive criticism was welcomed, as that is how we all learn.

“Any recommendations for the interview?”
Just be yourself and have confidence in what you already know. Take any constructive criticism and learn from it. Nobody there is there to tear you down. They are all supportive, especially Stephanie.

“How quick is the hiring process?”
You will generally know within a week. I think I heard in 3 days that I was hired.

“Can you pick the time when you want to start training?”
If it has not changed in LA Stephanie had the training course once a month. I’m not sure about other locations.

“Can you choose where in the world you want to work or are you put where you are needed?”
Yes and Yes….kinda. With me what happened was I was given a choice of different ships in different locations throughout the world that an acupuncturist was ending their contract from Stephanie. Then I decided which ship I wanted to go on and let Stephanie know. She then assigned me a ship.
A couple months from the end of my contract Stephanie contacted me about my plans and if I wanted to extend or when I wanted to come back. At that time she would also let me know what ships were becoming available around the time I was looking to rejoin the work force.

Also you should know the better you do with revenue, getting along with everyone etc the better chance you have of getting the ship or ports you want. It stands to reason. If you are “bringing in the numbers”, doing a good job, have no complaints from patients or coworkers Steiner wants to keep you around. If not or if you are just not cut out for this type of work why would they? They also realize it may take a bit for you to “get your sea legs” so if you are trying hard you are more then likely to get a ship maybe just not the big money ships. But then again when you improve so do your chances.

“Do you get paid for the training while in the UK?”
I’m not sure if you are asking about being an acupuncturist. If you are an acupuncturist you already have your license and you degree, either a Masters or PhD. The training I refer to is the 3-4 day “acupuncturist at sea” training. This is just about teaching you the ins/outs of working on ships. Also for the person thinking of hiring you to see if they might think you would be a good fit. And no you do not get paid for this.
“Any recommendations for the interview?”
Dress professionally, act professionally and be yourself just like you would in any interview. Pay attention to what the person giving the training is saying and do you best.

“How long have you been working on the cruise ships?”
I am just about to end my second contract. I have done a year as I did 4 months on my first and 7 months on this contract. Then I am vacationing in South East Asia and have already been approved to come back to the Rhapsody, the ship I am currently on and the ship I requested for my next contract, after vacation.

1.) “What do your cruise clients want from acupuncture?”
The vast majority of patients I see are for pain. Most of that is for low back and hip pain. Then it is neck/shoulders and then knee pain. After that it is rotator cuff, elbow, wrist, ankle, arthritis etc. not in any special order. After pain syndromes it is weight loss and some seasickness. I do see some neuropathy, tmj and a same variety of things.

2.) “Is it true that you have to sell Steiner or be pushed out?”
You have to sell yourself and your practice just like you do in any practice if you want to be successful. If you are not successful in any field why should an employer keep you around? If you are talking retail yes you are expected to retail and your target form Steiner is 20% of your service fees. Again don’t you already do that with your private practice selling herbs for your patients? First it is good TCM to sell herbs as your patients generally need them and second it is good for your business.

I have been very lucky in retail and usually have a very high percentage, over 40% for the most part. Maybe I am just lucky I don’t know. I know some struggle with retail and I did when I first started and then I embraced it, only sold what I truly believed what my patient needs and it has flourished.

As an example right now I am on my second day of a cruise so yesterday was embark and spa tour. I booked one person last night for a package of three and a bottle of joint remedy. That is my goal on ships, a package of three and a bottle of herbs for each patient, which gives me revenue of almost $500 per person.

Today I had two seminars, Introduction to Acupuncture and Acute and Chronic Pain Management. Some seminars I’ll get 20-25 guests and some were like today. The Intro Seminar had 6 guests and I booked one person. That one person after the treatment booked a package of five for $525 and bought $593 in retail for herbs etc. Now this was the exception but I stated it just to let you know it can happen. I’ve also had patients that only get one treatment and no herbs but thankfully that is the exception as well. For my Pain Seminar I only had five guests and booked on person for an herb consult as she had macular degeneration and not much I could do as far as acupuncture goes. But I know that Longevity being a good liver yin formula would help her eyesight so she bought three bottles of herbs for a retail of $285. When I do herb consults my goal is 2 bottles of herbs minimum. So today was an exceptional day only having two patients bringing in $1493 in revenue and with only three patients so far I have $1876 in revenue. It is not the norm but it does happen, usually I can be very busy but it really depends on the luck of the draw. As an example of that the fitness trainer had over 40 people in his seminar yesterday and nobody booked. If this happens just roll with the punches and do your best. And yes it happens to me and did two days ago, nobody even showed up for the seminar. If they don’t show it is hard to book them in…just roll with it and get it during the next one.

3.) Does the Acupuncturist need loads of experience before joining a cruise ship?
I’ve heard of acupuncturists that are just out of school or with minimal experience working on ships. I think what Steiner is looking for is just someone that want to learn and to work hard. And yes you work hard but then again you also get a fair amount of time off to visit ports all over the world. This is not for everyone I just find it works very well for me.
4.) How many other acupuncturists work on one cruise ship (given size, of course)?
I don’t know for sure, I think it is just one per ship but I seem to remember something about maybe tow on a ship here or there. I do know that it is one probably 99% of the time. Which is good, I personally want to bet he only one on board and I run two rooms.

5.) Age as a barrier to getting clients? How likely is it that I get hired by Cruise ships?
There is no age barrier that I know of and in fact was told that it works to my advantage. TCM is a foreign concept to many and if you are a little older the public has more of a tendency to trust you in the medical field. Far or not it’s true.
About getting hired there is no way to tell. It’s up to the person hiring you to look at your qualifications and after the interview process to deem this as a good fit. It that happens there is no reason one should be hired.

“I read your blog about some of the ports you visited, but how was your experience treating patients?”
I think if you start from the beginning you would see that I cover much of this. Probably not as much now as when I started but I should probably revisit some things every now and then. Hopefully this post will clear up some things for you.

“Did you work for Steiner?”
Yes, virtually every ship and the spas are run by Stiener. There are a few out there that do not but that is a very small number. Steiner is on over 100 ships that I know of throughout the world.

“I heard they really hassle their employees about making more sales.”
That maybe true on some ships. It probably all has to do with whatever spa manger that you have. I’ve heard of some that I really hope I never work for. Personally I’ve had four managers so far. One was exceptional and I’ll mention her name Raj. She is now in upper management in spas. Of the others some have been good some not so much but hat happens in and business. Also can you fault Steiner for wanting to be a successful business? As I’ve written above you are expected to work, promote acupuncture and retail herbs. To me isn’t that what we all do anyway? Please look above in this post and I think that you will find your answers.

“What was your living space like?”
On the Carnival Dream my room was very big and on this ship the Rhapsody of the Seas it is very small. You have a bed, desk, tv, closet and bathroom. Look back in the blog as I have posted pictures of my room on the Dream. I have not here but will soon.

“How expensive is the ship WiFi?”
On the Dream it was 10 cents per minute for wifi and here on the Rhapsody much more expensive, almost double. But they have crew internet for 6 cents a minute.

“How much money did you actually make on a cruise?”
I’ve posted these numbers before but not recently. I am taxed being American so I’d say between $1000-$1500 a week on average AFTER taxes and sometime closer to $2000 or a bit more. My record for a 7 day cruise was $8570 in treatments, $7649 in retail for $16,219 overall revenue with $1286 in tips. After taxes all said and done it was $2643 clear for the week. Not bad when you take into account my lodging is paid for, my meals are paid for, business expenses are paid for and my travel around the world is paid for. I’ve also had very slow weeks as well. Over all I don’t do bad and my first three months out of 100 ships I ranked 17th, 28th, 23rd, 13th, 15th, 12th and 40th. I try to stay in the top 1/3 of the ships with really wanting to be in the Top 20 and an ultimate goal of getting in to the Top 10.

So I hope that answered some questions for everyone. Keep them coming and I’ll do my best to answer when I can.

Enjoy - larry

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