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Woman Living on Cruise Ship Shares the 2 Major Downfalls of Being Onboard

Everything else is smooth sailing, she says.

Spending your life on permanent vacation may sound like a dream come true, and cruise director turned content creator Christine Kesteloo is here to tell you that in fact, you're right—it is. Married to the staff chief engineer aboard Holland America Line's cruise ships, Kesteloo has been traveling "for free" since 2021 as a "wife on board." This means she lives a dual life as both guest and crew—an arrangement that affords her a lavish life at sea.

That said, there are a few key limitations to her lifestyle, which she also outlined in a recent TikTok video. Read on to learn which two things Kesteloo can't do aboard the boat, despite otherwise living in the lap of luxury.

RELATED: 8 Cruise Secrets From Former Ship Directors.

Kesteloo generally enjoys a cushy time on the cruise.

Carnival Cruise Ship in the Ocean

Besides the obvious benefits of hitting the open seas and seeing the world—Kesteloo has visited 108 countries to date—being a "wife on board" also comes with logistical perks that the rest of us can only dream of.

"I don't make my bed or clean or have to do my laundry" or "pay for food or usual household utilities," she told Newsweek in a recent interview. She shares that she also receives half-off discounts for beverages and while shopping onboard.

RELATED: 7 Easy Ways to Make a Luxury Cruise More Affordable.

But she can't gamble.

Women gambling on slot machinery

Having worked as a cruise director for years, Kesteloo is comfortable living on board and helping out as crew when needed. "I can do most everything that the crew can do and most everything that a guest can do," she explained in her TikTok post.

However, Kesteloo says that the one guest activity that's expressly forbidden for her as "wife on board" is gambling. "I am not allowed to go sit at a slot machine and play my heart out until I win," she says in the video. "It would look a little weird if I, as the wife of the staff chief engineer, won a big jackpot."

She also can't get off the boat at the same time as guests.

boarding cruise

Kesteloo says that another downfall of being on board as a crew member's wife is that she disembarks from the vessel later than the other guests.

"When we get into port, obviously the guests get off first, and then the crew usually can get off the ship about an hour after the guests—and so I abide by that," she says. "If we dock at one, I get off at two."

RELATED: 11 Clothing Items You Shouldn't Wear on a Cruise.

She imposes certain restrictions on herself, too.

Deckchairs Cruise Ship Relax. Cruise Guest Relaxing in the Sun. Commercial Maritime Theme.

Kesteloo says that as the spouse of a crew member, she's allowed to use the pool, gym, spa, and other guest amenities onboard. However, she self-imposes one restriction on when she does those things out of courtesy for paying guests, she shares.

"If the pool is packed I make sure to get up and give the guests a seat," she says. "It's just the right thing to do."

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Lauren Gray
Lauren Gray is a New York-based writer, editor, and consultant. Read more
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