Cheating partners, wild cabin parties, group sex and fleeting relationships — it’s all par for the course when you’re working on cruise ships.
Australian author Cathryn Chapman has just released her debut book, Sex, Lies & Cruising, disclosing what she discovered working on cruise ships through a saucy, funny, fiction novel, which she describes as the ‘vanilla version’ of her real life experiences.
Set on a cruise ship in the Caribbean, Sex, Lies & Cruising is a book about a twenty-something woman who lands her dream job of working in photography on a cruise ship. She quickly discovers that life on board is a lot different than she expected.
Cathryn says the book is definitely inspired by true events.
“Some people would not believe the stories of what happens on cruise ships,” she says.
“Ship life goes at four times the speed of real life, everything goes very quickly.”
“There is a line in the book, ‘24 hours on board and I’ve shagged someone already’, because that’s what it’s like.”
Cathryn spent seven years travelling the world and working on cruise ships and said in that time she had her heart broken and was lied to, cheated on and cheated with, all while working on the high seas.
In one instance, she remembers being in a relationship with a colleague on board.
“I thought I was in love and I thought he was the one I was going to marry,” she says.
Until one day, “he admitted he was seeing 10 other women.”
Cathryn says it’s not uncommon for this type of thing to happen on board.
“The constant cheating and lying in the crew was horrible. Because we were so isolated, people were often cheating on their partners back home, some were even married with children,” she says.
“I wasn’t planning on being a nun but I was like, ‘really?’ I didn’t like it at all.”
After her horrible break up, Cathryn looked to her best friend on board for company. That night, they decided to go out for drinks and forget their worries.
“I thought she was my best friend,” Cathryn remembers.
“But she hooked up with ex-boyfriend that night; I remember his arm around her as they walked away and she looked over at me and winked.
“Friendships were very superficial (on board) because they know they won’t really get to see you again.”
Former cruise ship performer Travis James knows all too well how things work on board. He worked on cruise ships for seven years as a dancer.
“After a relationship breakup, I decided to get out and come back to reality,” he says.
Travis travelled all over the world from Alaska to Hawaii and even Guam working on cruise ships, and says that he had to learn how to grow up fast on board.
“This is how a relationship works on board, you see someone and after three days you’re dating them, then you’re basically living with them, and eleven months together equals nine years,” he says.
“Everything is sped up because there is nothing else to focus on. You have to learn how to grow up fast, if not, you’re left out.”
Travis says he was lucky he had some great friends in his dancing group, but everyone else on board hated them.
“Everyone hated us dancers, because they thought we didn’t do any work,” he says.
“But we were working 15 to 16 hour days and on the bigger ships we had to do up to three shows a night, as well as piazza acts and normal cruise work. They actually started to take away our breaks (in between performances) and that caused a lot of injuries. Everyone was so exhausted all the time.”
Like Cathryn, Travis says he too witnessed the lying and cheating that occurred amongst the crew.
“One of the girls in our dancing group was actually dating the staff captain, who had a wife and three kids. The girlfriend knew about the wife but the wife didn’t know about the girlfriend.
“One day he invited his wife and kids on board and asked his girlfriend to babysit his kids while he and his wife went to dinner. The girlfriend thought he was going to break up with his wife that night, like he had promised her. He didn’t. So she (the girlfriend) filmed the next time the pair were together and sent it to his wife.
“I tried to stay out of the drama,” Travis laughs.
Who knew life on the high seas could be so dramatic?
Although both Cathryn and Travis agree that they would never work on cruise ships again, they do not regret the time they spent at sea.
“It’s a fun thing to do when you’re young and single,” Cathryn says. “It will give you a great life experiences to remember when you’re old. It was great to meet all the people, you learn a lot about people from different countries and cultures, and get to visit some amazing places.”
“I don’t have any regrets,” Travis says. “I know a lot of things could have gone better on board but I just think it builds character.”
Sex, Lies & Cruising is out now and available through Amazon, Barnes and Nobles, Kobo and iBooks Store.