Unsung heroes: A cruise ship custodian talks a typical work day, passenger kindness and more

Jul 11, 2021

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After you board a cruise ship, order your first fruity cocktail and grab a seat by the pool, it’s instant relaxation. But in that state of bliss, it can be easy to forget the people who help you to have a marvellous time on your holiday.

The crew works tirelessly to make you feel right at home and completely pampered. They cook your food, do your laundry and make sure your cabin is as spotless as it can be.

Here, we’re highlighting someone who’s responsible for keeping public areas like bars, lounges and the pool area clean and tidy.

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Unsung hero: Awang Adi Prasetyo, housekeeping staff, Celebrity Cruises’ Celebrity Millennium

A crew member holds a bottle of cleaner as he prepares to sanitize public areas on cruise ship Celebrity Millennium. (Photo by Ashley Kosciolek/The Points Guy)

TPG: How did you get into being a member of the housekeeping staff on cruise ships?

Awang Adi Prasetyo: I started in 2016. My first ship was the Millennium. The second ship was the Celebrity Eclipse, and the third ship was the Celebrity Edge. And on the last one, I opened Celebrity Apex.

TPG: What does a typical work week look like?

AAP: It’s nice. The supervisor [tells] us who will be responsible for each section [of the ship]. For example, the public area, the crew area, the pool attendant area. We have a lot of teamwork.

We need to wake up a little bit early. Sometimes we have a job that starts at 7 or 7:30 a.m. We have breakfast for the crew, and then we have a meeting after. I finish around 9 p.m.

Every day, we’re supposed to have four hours’ break. We have [two] breaks. We get a one-hour break and a three-hour break. Under normal conditions, with no COVID-19, we can go ashore for shore leave [on port days]. We have three hours to go outside and then come back to the ship.

A cabin bathroom on cruise ship Celebrity Millennium (Photo by Ashley Kosciolek/The Points Guy)

TPG: What’s your favourite part of the job?

AAP: I [enjoy] cleaning the restrooms. The restrooms are nice because I can talk with the guests, and if we keep [the restrooms] clean, it makes the guests friendlier to us also.

TPG: What’s your least favourite part of the job?

AAP: I [don’t have a least favourite]. Guests make messes, and I need to clean them because that’s my job.

TPG: What’s the one thing you wish more people understood about your job?

AAP: Feedback is important. [I wish more] guests would give us nice feedback about our cleanliness in [various] areas.

After COVID-19, we are all fully vaccinated on the Celebrity Millennium, so the guests should be comfortable. I wish more people knew it was safe to come back.

Face masks and hand sanitiser provided in passenger cabins on Celebrity Millennium as part of the ship’s protocols (Photo by Ashley Kosciolek/The Points Guy)

TPG: What’s something anyone can do to be a better traveller in 2021 and beyond?

AAP: Follow health and safety protocols so everyone can stay safe.

TPG: Are there any VIP-type treatments a guest could score from you for good behaviour?

AAP: It helps if guests make conversation and are friendly, [but] we give good service to all the guests.

TPG: How has working in the hospitality industry changed your idea of travel or going on holiday?

AAP: It has taught me to be more conscious of cleanliness. When I’m back home I keep my house clean. I don’t throw garbage anywhere.

Also, we sail the world, and I’ve made friends with people from all over. We can meet the families of other people working on the ship. We work here, we save the money and we have vacation back home with our families [instead of travelling for holiday].

Paris and the Eiffel Tower in spring (Photo by Nikada/Getty Images)

TPG: If you could go anywhere in the world on holiday, where would it be and why?

AAP: The next Celebrity Millennium [itineraries] go to Alaska, and I’ve never been there. But I want to see it. If possible, I’d go on a ship [during work], but if I could save the money, I’d take my family.

TPG: Tell us about the best vacation you’ve ever taken or the best place you’ve ever travelled.

AAP: My favourite is Paris, with the Eiffel Tower. It’s my favourite place because it’s friendly, and the movies always show it as [romantic]. Paris in love.

Photo courtesy of Celebrity Cruises

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