In land-based jobs it’s easy enough to know what time you will start work, when you will end and how many hours off you have. Cruise ship jobs might be a little different in this regard since you are not always stationary and often sail across different time zones throughout your contract.
Cruise ship chefs must always know what time it is since guests will arrive promptly for meals and you can’t have them waiting! Time zones have more of an effect if the cruise line is sailing from east to west or vice versa, rather than north to south. But long distances, over a few days, will definitely call for adjusting clocks, whichever way you’re headed.
On board, it is the duty of the vessel’s navigator officer (or first officer) to calculate the time of sunrise and sunset every day and hand the information over to the cruise director and information deck. This information is then relayed across crew and passengers accordingly.
Generally, it is up to the captain to decide whether the cruise ship runs on ‘ship time’ or local time in port. Different cruise lines have varying regulations. The Carnival and Royal Caribbean cruise ships have been known to follow the time of their home port and generally follow this through the entire voyage. If you are working with a ship like this, you will not have to worry about changing time zones, except during free time in port.
On Norwegian cruise ships, the time changes according to the port they are going to, so clocks on board will change accordingly. While sailing, captains generally keep to the same time zone to avoid confusion about work, meals and service. When in port, everyone is notified of any time changes.
As a crew member you will receive information about the timings of your shifts and it is your responsibility to ensure you adhere to these timings. It’s best to clear any doubts with your manager as soon as possible to avoid confusion.