My name is Philip Gephardt, and currently I am the Open Deck Manager on Liberty of the Seas, but will soon be transferring to Allure of the Seas. I have been with the company for over three years now, and have loved every ship I have been a part of. So, my friends from the shore side support team have asked if I could write about a regular day in my life, which of course, is not regular at all.
It’s Day 1, which means turnaround day, perhaps my busiest day. As a member of the Senior Staff in the cruise division, it is my week to lead the departure process, (there is a rotation of about six others as well). So my day starts at 5:30 am, I pick up the two-way radios, and make sure the team “looks the part” in the cruise staff office. After I have checked them in (sometimes a wake-up call is in order as it is 5:30 am) we head upstairs to have a briefing with the Departure Officer and Guest Services Manager who will brief us on any potential problems/delays, and also to make sure we have all the necessary information we need to keep the guests informed and relaxed as they leave their cruise with us.
The first couple of hours are often the smoothest, immigration officials are cooperating today, and the lines are moving, it is rare in Barcelona to have any delays. I walk all morning, going from the theater (forward) to the dining room (aft) to ensure all luggage tag groups get off the ship. Teamwork pays off, and with the help of the Facilities team (luggage handling), Guest Services team (final guest needs), Food and Beverage team (breakfast), and the Cruise Division (guest direction off of the ship), we get all of our guests from Voyage 220 off the ship by 9:15 am.
After this, I recharge my battery and run to get a coffee from one of the two mess halls that are for crew only. At around 10:00 am, I head to the deck (my real office) to check and ensure a perfect deck for Voyage 221. I meet with Jason, the Sports Supervisor, at 10:15 am and we walk the Sports Deck. We check around the FlowRider stadium to ensure cleanliness, updated signage for the current voyage, that all necessary materials are in place, and so on. We do the same for the 9-hole mini-golf course, rock-climbing wall, sports court, table tennis area, and shuffleboard courts. All looks good, so I excuse Jason so that he can go and enjoy Barcelona (an amazing city!).
At 10:45 am I meet with my head pool attendant to do similar things around the pool area, as well as the deck 4 promenade. The nighttime pool attendants always do a good job, and I always appreciate the hard work it takes to make sure the area is spotless, and the chairs are always in perfect order.
By 11:00 am, the ship is ready to take the next voyage. Time for everything to open up. Oncoming guests are invited to the Windjammer buffet for an early lunch upon entry. Then the ship is theirs for the taking. Mainly this is a day to orient the guests to the ship. In my areas, we have an ‘Intro to the Rock Climbing Wall’, ‘FlowRider demonstration’, and a ‘Golf Simulator demonstration’, all hosted by one of the 8 sports staff. Whereas some guests do not want any orientation at all, and instead just want to grab a Mai Tai and sit by the pool on their first day, which we can accommodate as well.
Then it’s office work until 4:15 pm, at which time all crew must be in place for the 4:30 pm mandatory muster drill. In this drill, we ensure that the guests know where they need to go in the event of an emergency. The drill lasts just 15-minutes, and by the end, the guests have the safe-mind of knowing that in the event of fire, collision or grounding, they have all the necessary knowledge about how to evacuate quickly and safely.
5:00 pm is our sail-away party. I attend to make sure everything is kosher, and watch Ken Jones, our Activities Manager, lead the youth staff, sports staff, cruise staff, and DreamWorks Animation® characters in a big fiesta! It’s great fun, and it always draws a crowd.
For the next couple of hours it’s mainly helping on the Sports Deck. Lots of people are interested in these activities, so I’m there, along with the sports supervisor and sports staff to ensure they have all the necessary information, and waivers.
Dinner time in the staff mess is next, followed by a trip to the gym for an hour and then off to the 1970′s Disco Dance night in all its “afro”-tastic glory! The Cruise Director wants the cruise to kick off with a bang, so the biggest dance party of the week enlightens the guests. My character this week will be “The Construction Worker” from the 70′s band “The Village People,”, but on previous ships I have been “The Indian,” “The Cop,” “The Sailor,” or “The Leather Man.” I sweat it out dancing with fellow party-people and friends, then I’m off to my weekly team meeting, which happens pretty late on this ship.
At 11:00 pm I meet with the sports team for a quick recap of news, notes and laughs. Then I have to get to bed. If I’m not well-rested, then how can I beat the guests in Crew vs. Guest Dodgeball tomorrow? Our team hardly ever loses, it’s great fun. Last year, I was on Freedom of the Seas when we took on the Carolina Panthers team, who were onboard with the Make-a-Wish foundation. In one corner, we had a bunch of youth, cruise, and sports staff. In the other corner we had six professional athletes, groomed to crush, kill and maim whoever gets in their way. And who wins two games in a row?! The Freedom Dream Team, utterly annihilating the competition. Proud moment for ‘average joes’ all over the world.
Yes, it’s a busy life-style, but I wouldn’t have it any other way! The places I see are amazing (if it’s got a coast, and is worth going to, then I’ve probably seen it). But what makes ship life so great is the bond that grows between the fellow crew on ships; it is like no other place in the world, and the work that is to be done is beyond incredible. I tell anyone who asks, I have the greatest job in the world.