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My Cruise Ship Hairdressing Career: Baylee Strike, Grant Harper Salon, Umhlanga

Baylee Strike worked for Steiner on board ship from 2016 to 2018. She shares her experiences on board, and what it takes to be a cruise ship hairstylist.

Q: Why did you decide to take the plunge into this adventure? A: I went through an awful break up and decided I needed to find myself, away from everyone back home. Little did I know I would end up with a new “family” of co-workers on board! Q: What ship/s were you assigned to and where did you travel? A: I waited a month after training in Stellies to be placed on Anthem of the Seas with Royal Caribbean. This was hands down my favourite contract where I got to see so much of the Caribbean as well as some of the USA and Canada.

My second contract was on Harmony of the Seas which at the time was the biggest ship in the world and the flagship for every fleet that Steiner has. So the pressure was on from the day I got on board and I loved it. Because the ship was massive the port stops were more limited which from an earning perspective was amazing. Q: How much experience did you have before you worked on board? A: I was a fully qualified hairstylist who had experience in the industry, and this definitely gave me an advantage as I became the go-to person for colour and hair care retail. Q: Tell us about the vibe, the clients, the workplace and environment, what services you did most often...!

A: The work is hard, and you have your days where you stand on the promenade greeting every single guest... But wow when you get that guest like putty in your hand with your hand massage, then talk them into a few highlights and keratin treatment, it's all worth it when you see how happy you have made them. If you do more than one contract you bump into guests who have been with you before and their pure joy and excitement to see you is awesome. I have met some famous people on board like Olivia Newton John, Nicko McBrain and his wife from Iron Maiden just to name a few, and what amazing down to earth people.

Q: Were you happy with what you earned on board and what would you say is the secret to maximising earnings on board?

A: The hard work is worth it in the end... Especially when you check your oceanpay card and the dollars are there! After 2 months on board my first contract I was already known as the hairstylist to go to on board and it followed me to my second contract. If the crew trusts you with their hair, they refer guests to you. After you’ve visited all the ports you have your favourites, and you can book your days off for the ports you love most, and help your crew clients on the other port days! Q: What was life like on board outside of working hours – partying, socialising, outings?

A: Oooh, the parties... I loved the parties and the parties loved me. What made me even happier was the weekly meetings for crew welfare which I got to actually get involved in planning the huge parties for the crew as well as weekly entertainment, sometimes putting a hairstylist in this position can be a good idea or a bad idea - who works on a budget anyway when there's a party to plan? The days off ship were amazing, hiring a few jeeps, or scooters and travelling around the island... So much fun and I have many fridge magnets, coffee mugs and other items at home to remember it all. Q: What qualities do you think are most important for a cruise ship hairdresser to succeed and love their work on board?

A: Speed is important, especially blow-drying on special days like New Year’s Eve because you have to get guests out as quickly as possible for their formal photos with the captain.

Retail is important but remember your guests needs are by far way more important and your a hairstylist your passion is to make someone look and feel better. So focus on that. It’s important to stay positive and have fun with your guests and fellow crew.

Q: Do you feel that working on board ship gave you an advantage in terms of your skills?

A: Yes most definitely. I struggle still to sit around doing nothing so if it's a quiet day I am more than likely looking for things to keep me busy and strategize. I also learned to show more leadership with my guests in the salon, and to work around a language barrier using only hand signals... It made me a stronger person and more business minded within the salon environment.

Q: What did your Steiner experience do for you as a person?

A: I found myself. I know who I am and where I am in terms of my career. I have earned the respect within Durban as a hairstylist that trains facials and shaving to barbers here in Durban with Red Dane. I work closely with the hairdressing council when it comes to the yearly competitions. I know I am going to go as far as training to be an examiner and lecturer because I want to help mould the apprentices that are coming out of college now. Steiner taught me to focus on what I want and not what others want from me. What I loved most about Steiner is they pushed you to your ends and showed you can go further. Their on board training is endless and their management training can take you further than you thought possible. The time on board is incredible, so push past your tiny cabin where you are more than likely going to fall off the top bunk (because I have done it and so has everyone else) because that's part of life... you need to get up and start again. That's what Steiner does for you. So take the plunge and try it!

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