Embarking/ Disembarking


Another one of your most important jobs will be the safe boarding and offloading of passengers by way of the vessels gangway.


Gangways - The gangway is the structure used to move passengers on and off the vessel. It must be securely fastened and has to be constantly checked to make sure it is always properly secured. The captain will show you how to properly secure the gangway. After the gangway has been secured in the instructed manner, make sure that there is no opening or access between either side of the railings on the gangway and the opening or door that the gangway passes through on the vessel. If there is an opening, it should be chained or tied off so that passengers cannot go through it- especially the smallest passengers.


Gangway etiquette - Gangway etiquette is the professional manner that you will use when manning the gangway. You should not be chewing gum, smoking or clowning around. This is not the time to carry on a conversation with other crew members that doesn’t involve gangway duty. You should act in a professional, polite manner. This is your opportunity to make a first impression on the passengers.  It is also when you will get a first impression of your passengers.  Note passengers with special needs, watch for possible intoxication, and most importantly you will be conducting screening for security.  You will receive additional security training as appropriate. 


Gangway duty - After securing the gangway in the correct fashion your responsibility is the safe boarding or offloading of passengers. The most dangerous time for passengers is during the boarding process. This means your entire focus should be on them and inspecting the gangway to make sure it is still secured properly. You should welcome the passenger aboard and tell them to watch their step on the gangway and on the vessel. Have your hands available to assist the passengers, remember they are not familiar with the moving, uneven surface of a boat.  If necessary, you might need to inform them to watch their head if there are especially tall passengers or there are low overhead areas. This is where you combine the company safety policy with customer service by typically saying, “... good morning, welcome aboard, please watch your step ...” or words to that effect. Also, if necessary, you might help passengers up/down the gangway because of physical conditions of the passenger, or the incline of the gangway. It might be best to stop others from using the gangway because you cannot assist one passenger and watch the safe boarding of others at the same time. You are to stay at your post and not to wander away from the gangway unless directed by the captain or properly relieved.


Click here to watch the boarding procedure for the Architecture Tour


Passenger Management


At all times, one of your priorities is to manage the passengers. There are two different situations, general passenger management and emergency passenger management.


General Passenger Management - This can occur when an aisle or passageway on the vessel has to be kept open for various reasons or when passengers are rushing to get off the vessel and begin to crowd around the access way. To get their attention, make sure that you (in a clean uniform) are clearly seen. If necessary, (and the vessel is not moving around) you might have to stand on something so that all the passengers in the vicinity can see you. Give the passengers clear, concise instructions that are easy to follow. Use a firm, strong voice with normal tone. When you communicate, make a statement; do not inflect words at the end of a sentence because it will make it sound like a question. Do not challenge the passengers or be sarcastic, instead try to have them understand that you are doing your job for their safety. If a question is asked and you do not know the answer, do not make one up. Inform them that you do not know and will try to find out and get back to them.


Emergency Passenger Management -  As in general passenger management, how you communicate to them is the key, especially in an emergency. You do not want to cause panic among the passengers due to the effect it can have on the situation. If passengers see a crew member panic, they most certainly will as well and the result could be even more devastating than the original emergency. You must calm the passengers. The calmer you appear, the more the passengers will pay attention. During an emergency, to get the passengers attention, you may have to raise your voice. Do not yell or scream, but ask for their attention by speaking loudly, clapping your hands or creating a rhythmic noise that can’t be misinterpreted as part of the emergency. Once you have their attention, you will only have a few seconds to begin to control the situation. It is critical that you take advantage of the situation at this point by directing them in clear, concise language. If necessary, you may direct other passengers to assist you. During certain emergencies, some passengers may have skills that may be important in a particular situation, i.e. doctors, nurses, EMTs, firemen, policemen, and servicemen. You may even assign duties to passengers that seem to be unruly or scared. The unruly passenger may become your ally if you ask him or her to assist in even a simple task. If possible, answer the passengers’ questions and clear up their misgivings, but do not make up answers to questions that you do not know. The most effective way to prevent further injury or panic during an emergency is to control the passengers with clear instructions given in an even, firm voice and for you and all other crew members to remain calm.


Passenger Assistance - At certain times, you might have to assist passengers, whether it is during boarding, moving around the vessel or moving up or down the stairwells. At all times, ask the person you suspect needs assistance, before clutching on to them. It can be extremely offensive to someone to be touched or grabbed. After asking permission to assist them, tell the person what you intend to do. People often feel more at ease holding on to you, instead of you holding on to them. When traversing stairs or gangways, make sure you use the handrails provided to assist both of you. Try your best to move at their speed; do not try to rush them. Make sure there is a clear path for you to move through as you help them around the vessel.


Enforcement of Company Policy - Company policy will often times dictate what passengers can and cannot do that are vessel specific and it will be up to the crew to enforce these regulations. These are mostly common sense regulations that passengers should not do or try to avoid. Their children should be supervised by them at all times. There is no running or rough housing on board. When docking or undocking, heads, arms and hands should be inside the vessel, not trying to touch the dock, etc. No littering or throwing anything over the side. Do not allow anyone to sit on the tops of any of the deck railings, chair backs or go into unauthorized areas. Do not allow anyone to play around or to handle any of the vessel’s equipment, especially the safety equipment, which is located in direct proximity to the passengers. Again, good, direct communication with the passengers should be applied. Use the words please and thank you when asking a passenger to stop or avoid doing these things.


Housekeeping in Areas Open to Passengers - One of the most effective methods of keeping a vessel safe is to pick up any item that do not belong in passenger areas. This includes trash on the deck, maintenance equipment or tools, lines, chains or anything of the kind. Spills or any liquid on the decks or stairwells should be cleaned and dried up immediately. If you need to open a hatch or do repair work with passengers aboard, another crew member should always be posted in the immediate area to keep passengers away from a hazard, whether real or perceived. If you feel that something on the deck represents a potential tripping hazard, then it should be taken care of immediately!


At- Risk Passengers- Certain groups of passengers could be deemed at-risk because it would be more difficult to deal with them in an emergency than typical passengers. Some examples of at- risk passengers could be blind people, young kids, seniors, handicapped, drunk, non- English speaking or deaf people. The deck crew should maintain special vigilance in regard to at- risk passengers.


Unruly Passengers- It is also likely you will come into contact with unruly passengers. Extra vigilance is required on charters and evening cruises where alcohol can be heavily involved. If you encounter someone who will not follow your instruction or is otherwise disrupting the normal operations of the vessel maintain self control and notify the captain immediately. It is critical that the captain is made aware of any unruly activity in a timely manner so that proper action can be taken. Never try to argue with or fight unruly passengers, leave that up to the police and shore side authorities. 



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