Working Wednesdays: Ferry Steward for Wightlink Ferries, Isle of Wight, England

Jonny Blair working at Wightlink Isle of Wight England

Working Wednesdays: Relaxing on the car deck in my job on the waves for Wightlink Ferries, Isle of Wight, England

I LOVED working for Wightlink Ferries. In the last 10 years of nomadery, this was perhaps the one job that it felt like I was at home in. Getting paid to travel, meeting new people every day, free food and drinks and travelling every day to an enchanting island. Whatever fate befell me in 2008 led me to become a seasonal ferry steward on Wightlink ferries. I worked on 4 ferries, all on the same route. I loved it. But I was way too busy at the time. I also had this blog, I also worked as a barman in the Pavilion Theatre in Bournemouth (a Working Wednesday for the future), I also ran a supporters club and I also had a busy social network, not to mention season tickets for TWO football teams (Northern Ireland and AFC Bournemouth) so my 6 months on Wightlink Ferries was over in a flash but I have my photos and videos and my memories. On Working Wednesdays I tell the stories of the endless jobs I’ve had but I also want to help you to get jobs too.

Needles Isle of Wight Wightlink Ferries

The view of the Needles on the Isle of Wight, a bit of sightseeing on my days off!

How to get a job working on Ferries in England

First of all almost all of these jobs will be seasonal. Meaning they usually run from May – September. I was lucky with Wightlink Ferries and I worked right through until November for them. I also worked for Condor and also on the Brittany Ferries route (but on a Condor Vessel) over a 2 year period in the boating industry. If you’re not from the UK and planing to head there, you can check my 6steps on moving to the UK.

Yarmouth harbour Isle of Wight

Yarmouth Harbour on the Isle of Wight – nice view from the office window!

I was employed by Seamariner who at the time sorted out seasonal staff for the Isle of Wight ferries run by Wightlink. For information on UK ferry companies check here: Ferry Cruise Jobs and here is Seamariner’s Website. Since I got my job in 2008, I cannot say for sure the best way to do this these days, just being honest, but here are a few important things to note:

– Look around for every ferry company in England and contact them around February – April time enquiring about summer jobs. Most of them will need extra staff in the summer.

– Live near a town that has ferries! (A few examples are Poole, Weymouth, Dover, Fleetwood, Birkenhead, Lymington, Portsmouth, Southampton)

– Make yourself available.

– Be enthusiastic (I’m pretty sure they only gave me the job as I talked non-stop about how I loved ferries, loved travel and it was always my dream to work on ferries!!).

Wightlink ferries coming into Yarmouth harbour

The Wightlink ferry lands on the ramp in Yarmouth – not actually the usual place to disembark but this was a bust summer’s day!

I would imagine the same types of logic would apply to working on ferries in Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

My Working Hours on Wightlink Ferries

It was normally a 5-6 day week of either an “early” or a “late” – each shift varied from 6 hours to 12 hours depending on how busy it was. Overtime was paid and a rota/roster was handed out each week and was easy to follow. I was assigned to a certain crew, though the captain of the ship and the other crew members often changed. I also managed to get trips to Belfast, Slovakia, Italy and Slovenia in my time working there so don’t think it was all hard work for 6 months and no travel. I always travel!

Lymington train coming into the ferry terminal

Lymington: Closest train to a ferry in the UK? Not sure on the facts but you could literally jump off the train and straight up the gangway to the ferry (well probably in an emergency…there was a proper boarding system and ramp 😉 )

Perks of my Job working on Wightlink Ferries

Free tea and coffee all day! Selected snacks free. Free transport to the Isle of Wight and back (including with your car). Early morning starts, late night finishes, varied working hours, bonuses, overtime for busy periods etc. I’d have to say the perks were great!

Jonny Blair on Wightlink ferries 2008

All at sea – loving life on the waves working for Wightlink in 2008

What Qualifications did I Need to work on Wightlink Ferries?

First Aid and Food Hygiene were the main ones and they put you through Fire Safety and Crew Briefings before your first proper shift. It’s essential to do all the training and you get paid for it and meet your fellow staff. I loved it.

Wightlink ferries Cenwulf

Life at sea working for Wightlink Ferries in 2008 loving it!

What did my job on Wightlink Ferries entail?

I worked as a steward. I had a boss who was a Senior Steward. My main duty was safety of the passengers, as is everyone’s on board a boat. But I served tea, coffee, drinks and snacks. We had a bar too of course. Keeping the cabin clean, looking after passengers, helping disabled passengers etc. The job was varied and I loved it. I worked on the car deck once, but I didn’t enjoy it – not really my thing so I left it for the better staff to do.

Lifejackets on the Wightlink Ferries Jonny Blair a lifestyle of travel

My main duty was of course passenger safety – I loved the training and drills too though I have to admit!

If I loved working on Wightlink Ferries so much why did I leave?

My contract ended in October and I managed to stay on until November and I could have gone back again in March for the second season. But I had my busy life and my other jobs, so when I clocked out of the Caedmon in mid November 2008, I never visited the Isle of Wight or Lymington again. That’s the way life goes. I kept in touch with a few of the guys and girls from the boats and I later worked on Condor Ferries before I left to travel the world again in 2009.

Wightlink ferries stewards

The dream team in 2008 on Wightlink Ferries – Jo, Jonny, Simon. Great memories…

A shout out to Simon Eatwell, Steve Parrish, Jo Weguelin and Shaun Em who I worked with most on the ferries. I loved those days and it all came to an end but I cherish the memories. I’ll have to do a post on sightseeing on the Isle of Wight sometime…

Check out the Wightlink Ferries website if you want to visit the Isle of Wight – it’s a great wee island off the south coast of England!

Wightlink Ferries I worked on – Caedmon, Cenred, Cenwulf, Wight Light

Route I worked on – Lymington to Yarmouth

Loads of my other Working Wednesdays are here.

Some of my videos from working on Wightlink Ferries:

On board the Caedmon:

Offloading the Mezz Deck on the Caedmon:

The Wight Light in its first week of sailing:

Yarmouth to Lymington on Wightlink Ferries:

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