You get paid in cash -- and it adds up
When I worked in 2008 I was making about $4,000 a month -- a tidy haul, considering all my expenses were covered. Payment arrived as an envelope stuffed with $100 bills. I felt like a drug runner, dashing back to my cabin to secret my stash about the room: a grand in a shoe, another in my toiletry bag.
Depending on your country of origin, you may not have to pay tax on this income since you are earning your salary in international waters. After a while, the money piles up. A friend of mine who took on several cruise ship contracts bought a house. I, on the other hand, moved to New York.
You get really good at curing sea sickness
Sea sickness is a real thing. In my experience, the larger the ship, the less motion you feel. But on one occasion, as we sailed the Atlantic, a wave hit the side of the ship where my cabin was hard enough to throw me out of bed. On particularly turbulent days, you discover that people from different parts of the world bring their own cures. While most Westerners pop a pill and have a lie down, Chinese workers taught me to eat 10 kiwis (no more, no less). Filipino workers insisted that green apples were the cure. I favored popping the pill and then lying down and eating apples and kiwis.