Chanel Taverna, who works as a Guest Relations Manager at MSC Cruises, shares her experience working on an international cruise ship. Picture: MSC Cruises/Vali Belascu Photography

Durbanite Chanel Taverna, who works as a guest relations manager at MSC Cruises, shares her experience working on an international cruise ship. 

What attracted you to working on a cruise ship?

The fact that I could travel and get paid while gaining work experience.

What important lessons have you learned from working on a ship?

I’ve learned how to culturally adapt to working with other colleagues who are from different nationalities. I’ve also learned to work very efficiently, act on my feet and problem solve.

What do you love most about your job? 

I love the pace and experience gained every single day.

Give us an idea of a day in your life onboard a ship? 

Well, I manage the heart of the ship (as I like to call it), which is guest services and the reception area. We are the point of reference for all guests, crew and other departments.

My job is to oversee all operations of the Guest Services desk, which includes the guest flow and controlling all interactions that have been recorded on our onboard system. I check communications from onboard and the shoreside via email as well as attend cocktail functions and presentations. I also have duties as per the Hotel Purser/Officer. For instance, when we are in port, we need to help control the flow of guests.

Internally, I manage my Guest Services team and conduct training and meetings to make sure we are aligned and pass on all communication efficiently. We are continuously updating onboard information according to various factors that affect the ship to ensure guests have the smoothest and best experience.

What advice would you give someone who wanted to work on a cruise ship? 

Make sure you have a good work ethic and give yourself time to adapt to the culture and work style onboard.

Which countries have you enjoyed visiting the most and why? 

Northern European counties like Norway and Iceland, as they have such a different way of life and some of the towns are very hard to access. You feel as if you are in a fantasy movie and never want to leave.