Can we be delivered on board a Cruise Ship?

Last updated on December 12, 2021

Could Amazon, Best Buy or Walmart reach the 7 seas and add the sailors as they customers? Can the seamen be delivered on board their ship while they sail all over the world?

Of course we can! We work every day, many hours. We don’t have so much time off. So it is difficult to get everything we need. Remember, we are not on board for a few weeks. Some seafarers can stay up to 9-10 months on a ship. So you can’t pack everything you need. Supplies will be necessary at some point.

Crew Shop

Yes, sure, we do have a crew shop on board. These shops are usually not that big (crew venues are often quite small…. Well yeah, the ship is designed for guests actually). So we don’t have a lot of products and not much choices.

It depends on the cruise line and what they want to sell to the crew. New products can usually come up when a lot of crew members ask for it (I will talk to you one day about the Crew Committee).
Anyway, you can find some goods that will save your life if you forgot about them at home or running out of them: toothbruth, toothpath, shower gel, shampoo, socks, white t-shirts, phone chargers, etc. But you can also find food! Like candies, chocolate, noodles, biscuits, etc. And some wine, beers, sodas, juices… Even some cruise lines sell stronger alcohol (we’ll talk about Cambusa another day haha).

I would say that the crew shop is our convenience store. We are very happy to have it, especially when we don’t have time to to go out. But…. It doesn’t answer the question 😉

The Cruise Ship with Homeports​

“Cruise ships are sailing all over the world. You see a different port, in a different country, every day”

That is often how we see a cruise ship and its crew. Travelling all over the world, in continuous service. The truth is quite different. Yes, the cruise industry is going everywhere, but world itineraries are quite unusual as it is an important logistic and we need passengers who can travel for months as well!
Most of the time, cruise ships have specific itineraries, and short cruises (3 to 7 days) are the most attractive ones for tourists. So the cruise industry develop them.
It also means that the cruise ship is always doing the same itinerary, the same days, over and over, for months. It means that we have a Homeport. A base of operations, to pick up and to disembark guests, crew and goods.
What’s the good news for the crew then?????! The ship has an address! Ouh yeah! If the ship docs at the same port at specific days to embark/disembark goods, foods, products, passengers… Then we can also use it as a home address on most websites.

The Port Agents

So, now that we know we can order…. How does it work? There isn’t a mailbox. And could you imagine a cruise ship with 1500 crew members…. How many letters and packages do we receive every day??? (A lot by the way).

In most cases, cruise lines have a warehouse, or a shared warehouse with other cruise lines, where they can stock this mail. This organization is done, most of the time, by port agents.
Usually, they are not part of the cruise line company. They are third operators offering their services to cruise lines. They are multipurposes roles (intermediary with port authorities, transportation, mail, excursions, etc.).
When the cruise ship is docked at its homeport, the port agent will arrange the embarkation of all letters and packages. Port agents can also check your mail and scan them in order to make sure your orders comply with local and maritime laws.
The crew office will then organize the mail by department and will distribute it.

What can we order?

Of course, as we travel in different countries, our orders are checked. We cannot order anything illegal (of course, right?) and anything that can’t pass the borders.
We cannot order alcohol or tobacco neither (these products are sensitive).
Depending on the cruise line, we cannot order anything too big or too heavy, because colleagues will have to take care of those items before handing out to us. So, to be fair with them, we can only order small things.

If you respect all these requirements, you can order plenty of things!!! Toiletry, electronics, clothes, etc.

And you can’t even imagine the joy that it can bring to people! I mean, when you order something on internet and you receive it, there is always a little bit of happiness when you open it. Even if you bought it and that you know what you ordered!
For seafarers, we don’t receive mail every day and we can’t really track our orders. We are never sure it has been delivered or if the port agent had the time to deliver it to the ship. It’s kind of a lottery. So when you receive your package, it’s like receiving a gift!

During the most wonderful time of the year, it’s like Christmas!

Merry Xmas to you all 🙂

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The author is a cruise ship officer and loves travelling around the world. He started the expatriation adventure in 2016. He is passionate about learning new cultures, about local food & beer. *Disclaimer: Opinions expressed are solely my own and do not express the views or opinions of my current employer or my previous employers*

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