Monday, July 15, 2013
Class on the Queen Mary 2
There is a definite class system on the boat. The more you pay the more square feet in your room, the higher your deck (all other things equal), the more private your dining and the larger your balcony. At the lowest prices you have no balcony or window and eat mostly buffet style. But, frankly there are no poor or working class people in any of the cabins unless they are like me -- did not know enough not to do well on standardized exams and through luck (good or bad, I do not know) ended up in a profession in which he would hate to be anything but a misfit.
The people who work on the boat are a different story. For whatever reason the waitstaff tended to be Filipino. The workers in the gambling areas were generally Eastern European. I am not sure their contracts are all the same but for the restaurant workers you sign on for 9 months -- no days off. They start breakfast at about 6 AM and finish dinner about 10:30 PM. The one I got to talk about it seriously said that there is really just time for sleep and you have a choice -- sleep or have some kind of life for an hour or two. After 9 months you take 2 to 3 months off without pay. He has being doing it for 10 years -- ten years of missing birthdays, weddings, holidays, etc. Some workers contact their families daily. He does not because it makes him sadder.
I would think the entertainers have a better deal at least as far is leisure time.
So, why aren't there days off when the boat is in port? I am not sure but it appears the goal for the QM2 is to rarely stop. The boat dropped us off in Southampton on a Saturday morning. Later that day it was off to Norway only to return the following Saturday. On the same day it was back to New York.
I asked why someone would choose this life, The answer was that it was better than anything else in terms of the future of his children. Plus, it was addictive. It allowed him to have a house and a car -- and, of course, payments due forever.