My experience as an Acupuncturist on a Cruise Ships

forum post

My experience as an Acupuncturist on a Cruise Ships

Published on 12-02-2007

"catraveler" - this is their first post.

Don't be fooled by the lure of fun and excitement of working and living on a cruise ship. Steiners is a spa company that has monopolized spas on cruise ships and they are aggressively hiring Acupuncturist to complement there business. On the surface it may seem glamorous and adventurous visiting international ports on cruise ships with potential of making $1000/wk but the reality is not so exciting at all. The image about the job will quickly change as you begin your life on board with a rude awakening of hectic schedules, bombarded with stiff rules and regulations as a staff worker for concessionaires such as spa, casino, art gallery and photo shops.

When steiner advertise that you can potentially make $1000/wk. that's only possible on handful of flagships with great iteneraries. Additionally you will have to be completely booked daily in order make that much money and about half of that money is tips so your actual paid only around 500 on a fully booked cruises. It is almost criminal to see how little workers are paid. Also Steiners will push you and hassle you constantly to sell their products to the clients and they are infamously known among returning passengers for pushing products with false pretenses. Workers at the spa are constantly burdened psychologically to generate sales income or else be harassed for poor performance and reprimanded severely for making small errors on the job.

Acupuncturist are required to work about 5o to 55 hrs but expect to work 60 to 70 hrs/wk. when you break it down you are only earning $15/hr if you are a top earner. At the end of the week you will be dead tired but you have to get right back to welcome new group of passengers. The job is very labor intensive and you are responsible of every from cleaning and prepare the room for service for every clients and required to do major cleaning every week from moping the floors and waxing the cabinets and making the beds to marketing yourself for a booking and not to mention the treatments you are doing. The Acupuncturist is basically running the entire business alone. steiners supply equipment, space and managing person to push you around and demoralize you. If you don't meet there expectations.

Since clients don't normally come to spa for an acupuncture session you have to promote yourself rigrously. When you have uncooperative manager it makes your job that much more difficult. I have never worked so hard in my life for the little money i made not to mention the physical wears and emotional stress for doing this job the best way I know how. If you have any plans to settle down some where to open up your private practice don't waste your time with this company begin building your practice. If I knew what I know now, I would of never signed up. In my opinion steiner is taking advantage of Acupuncture field lacking in job opportunities. I would sure like to see someone strong and brave enough to unionize the Acupuncturist currently working on Cruise ships. This statement is strictly my personal opinion based on my experience working on a cruise ship. Thank you for reading, ultimately it's your choice, you have to decide for yourself my intentions for submitting this collumn is to shed some light to what I experience as an Acupuncturist on a Cruise Ships.

Comments / Discussions:

comment by "Hepcat"
on Dec 2007

Wow. That has not been my experience at all.

I have worked on a cruise ship with Steiner now for 5 months and I am totally happy with my experience.
I was told from the beginning that it would be hard work, and that I would have a fully booked schedule. This is certainly the case. I am making more than $1000 per week, so the potential to earn that much is definitely there.
I suppose of course that this could vary with the ship and the itinerary, but how do you control that? I think really that so much depends on your attitude and drive. I was told this was an average however, so I knew it could be more or could be less. As for pushing to sell products, I don't pay too much mind. I love the traditional Chinese prescriptions they have on board, and find that they are effective, so I recommend them, but not much else.
I could also see that if you didn't get along with the spa manager that things might not be so much fun, but I generally get along with everyone, so it's pretty good! They should be supporting you for sure;
you're not supposed to go it alone.
I honestly feel that I was made aware of what life on board was like, and was prepared well for it in the training.
It seems to me like the previous comment has a very pessimistic and negative tone. I think perhaps that they are suffering from a little burn-out, and need to jump ship for a bit to gain some perspective!
I don't think Steiner is taking advantage of the industry lacking in opportunities, but rather providing a great one!
Hey, it might not be for everyone, but at least it's an option.
I tried to make a practice on land work for a long time, with really not much success. I am not afraid of hard work, and am in fact thankful for it. I am indeed busier than I have ever been on land, and I get to introduce so many people to what I studied so hard to do - that part is awesome!
I genuinely feel it is a great thing to do. Don't let things get you down!

Be Happy.

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comment by "acustar"
on Dec 2007

I also had a very different experience. What ship and what spa manager did you have??? I have completed two contracts and getting ready to do a third. Yes, its hard work, yes its demanding-however the rewards/positives definitely outweigh the negatives. I only worked 52 hours per week-I made sure of that. My first contract was more difficult than my second because I didn't understand ship life yet. Now I go on, and know what to expect and how to get around the negative factors.

I agree with the fact that there are little job opportunities for acupuncturists-and if I could have graduated and stepped into a full time practice making over $1000 per week, I would have. However that isn't the reality and I am happy that an opportunity exists somewhere. I have saved a great deal of money working on ships, and gained a lot of experience as well. I will open my own practice eventually, but with some money saved-experience earned-and confidence built. Instead of being negative, I am grateful that I can work within my field (instead of having to get a second job in an unrelated field like so many of my friends that graduated acupuncture school has had to do).

I have found it really easy to build a practice week after week with so many people on board wanting to try acupuncture. I wish it was this easy on land! I have had times that I felt like you, working so hard-but ultimately, I am happy making money doing what I love and I take very long vacations between contracts so that I can rest.

I have had an adventure of a lifetime out there. I am sorry you had such a bad experience. Although I have learned, it is what you make of it!

Hope things improve for you!

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comment by "Charm"
on Dec 2007

It's been a while, but I had the same type of experience as the first person to comment. Negative. I trained in Miami at Steiner for a week and was never paid for it. I worked on a ship and "everything" was different than it was portrayed to be. I won't go into details here.

Be're signing contracts at sea so you have no recourse in America if you aren't making the money you expect to, feel mislead or don't get along with your Spa manager. I made a "total" of $1000 in 4 weeks (with no tips), then waited about 4-5 months to get that from the company. The ship I worked on included tips so people would not leave more- but that was really your pay, not a tip- it only happens on one line, but that was the one I was placed on. I did not get any pay the whole time I was on board and had begun running out of what I took with me, you don't pay for things onboard with your credit card, only cash (ship credit).

I worked with girls in the spa from other countries. They seemed to have fun, they were in their young 20's, traveling and making friends- staying up late partying. (One called her mom to send her money to fly home after 8 months onboard, because she was broke)
If you're young and just starting out, maybe. If you have any responsibilities at home- rent, office, car payment, student loans, etc.. you may not make enough to cover them. I didn't. To stay in touch with people at home you have to buy cards to use the internet and phones- that can all add up quick. I even paid when I had to contact the home office in Miami. Using a cell phone in one of the ports of call was about $3.00 a minute.

You can not freely roam the ship. As an employee you stay below deck, eat at restaurants only rarely with a managers permission (there is a staff mess below) and aren't suppose to get friendly with guests. Being found in a guests room can get you fired.

I expected to make enough money on a 4 month contract to have a cushion for starting a practice, I didn't. I worked 70 hrs weeks - in 4 wks I worked 7 days a week twice and 5 1/2 days twice (1/2 day was 7 hours) My spa manager wouldn't let me be in the spa on walk through days so that I didn't take away from the Spa business. That was a challenge. My last day on board started at 7:45 am and ended at 1:15 am after cleaning and waiting for the books to balance. 17 1/2 hours !

While on board I kept in contact with the girls I trained with and the resounding theme was once at sea, we felt adrift, on our own with no support or guidance from our acupuncture mgrs at Steiner. One acupuncturist even started doing massage and facials to supplement her income- even though she had no background in the facials. (She had a good spa mgr who was trying to support her)

When I was there they hadn't gotten Chinese herbs yet, but the products we were pushed to promote were so far out of a normal price range. About $400 + for 3 bottles of detox pills that probably had a wholesale price of $30. (if that, based on the ingredients)

I see the positive comments... lucky you. I guess it's hit or miss. I don't recommend my experience to anyone.

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comment by "archived-user"
on Dec 2007

My experience as an acupuncturist with Steiner holds more pluses than minuses.

It seems obvious to me that there are a number of factors that could vary experience from one practitioner to another, other than just personality alone. The size of the ship, the itinerary & the resulting demographics all play a crucial role in how busy one will be.

I've only done two contracts, but it's been enough time spent on the same ship, seeing the changing faces of passengers on the ship - the age, the nationality, etc. A 10 day cruise leaving England for the Baltic in June will provide a dramatically different demographic than that of a 5-day Caribbean cruise leaving Florida in March. For acupuncture, the Baltic cruise will pack a lot more interest.

Describing life on a ship is difficult. It's so different. If you are an adaptable person you should be able to hack it. It has a harshness about it for sure, and I'll admit to having used St. John's Wort (which worked really well) on occasion for mild depression.

As far as dealing with management, you must realize that YOU are running a business. You must pull the reins on that business, see things in their place, identify where your attention will benefit your busyness. So there's no need to get caught up in all the hoopla, don't let someone else's pressure be your own.

One of the most crucial and rewarding aspects of your acupuncture practice on the ship will be promoting and giving seminars. This is where I pull in 95% of my clientele. If you can speak about your art and convince people it's worth trying, then you will be busy. These seminars do a world of good for promoting acupuncture overall and I'm sure land-based acupuncturists have benefited from them.

I've been lucky enough to have earned, on average, $4500-5000 per month. Depending on whether you gave a single treatment, it was a package deal, and if you got tipped, you receive $25-40/treatment. This is, for many of us, WITHOUT EXPENSES (maybe other than debt payments). You'd have a hard time beating all that cash on land, until you're well established in a good area. For those of us that are recently out of school it's one of the best opportunities for a single person.

Now is the cruise industry, is Steiner, taking advantage of it's workers. Well, this is a no-brainer. Are spa people overworked? Uh, yeah. Am I. Uh, no. I make my own schedule, work 40-50 hours/week. While that's already a lot of hours for me, it's different on the ship. You walk to work and all your meals are prepared for you.

So...... this can be a great opportunity AND there's always some drawback. But, hopefully, if you get in the right situation, you have a good outlook, can speak to people and attract them to your business, and you're adaptable, you can stay on the positive side as I have.

I'm going back for more.....

..... and i didn't even mention all of the beautiful places i've been to......................

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comment by "maya790"
on Mar 2008

Well, it's nice to see someone has the guts to shed some light to the factual information that is never shared by recruiters from steiners. Obviously this articles description is lacking in enlightening us with positive side of the whole experience but I have to say I agree with many things mentioned on this post. Before I begin discussing about my views I want to mention that those people who have left comments criticizing the author of this article sounds very artificial and smells awfully fishy to be so happy and content about being confined and restricted for 5 to 6 months and being away from home for so long... unless they are linked with steiners in some way...???

Anyways, the first matter I want to discuss is about the potential earning capabilities. There is lots of opinions about making $1000/week potentially, but let me tell you this is not easily done on every ship. I agree that you can make this much only on handful of ships because I sure never made near that amount, when i was on the job.

Contrary to what steiners ( and others?) claim, an acupuncturist will have to generate approximately $3500 to $4000 in total sales to earn about $500 to $600 in commission plus about $400 in tips to make $1K per wk however this is not possible on every ship. Most ships are 7 day cruises and ussually ships are schedule to be on port for 3 days. That means there is only 4 sea days to generate the majority of the income through out the week. An Acupuncturist will have to be completely booked up to make about $3200 to $4000 in sale and being fully booked on every sea day is just not possible on most ships. Sure there are some ships with great opportunities but most clients do not line up at the spa for an acupuncture treatment. Clients who are willing to pay $100 for someone to poke needles are doing so for a medical reason so don't expect to be fully booked all the time. You'll probably have to work you tail off promoting yourself to make a decent income.

While on the subject of earning I want to mention something on tips. Someone commenting on this article said the tips are $25 to $35 that is straight out lie! Yeah sure you'll get great tips once in a while but this is on very rare occassions. The norm is 10% to 15% so expect to be tipped around $10 to $15. This is the real amount you'll be tipped. Not $30 or $40 (not 30-40% tip) unless they are completely wasted on booze from partying too much or just filthy rich.

Basically my experience with steiners gave me an opportunity to grow as a practitioner when there was no job to be found and bonus opportunity to travel and see the world but I would never return again unless I am desperately broke. There is a reason why people won't continue returning to steiners for more than two contracts. The price of confinement and restriction of your freedom is just too much to deal with for a long periods of time. It can be a fun experience as temporary gig especially if you have no other opportunity at the momment.

For those who are contemplating about joining steiners, give it a try you'll never really know unless you experience it yourself but I assure you, you'll never want to make this job a life long career. The benefits of no-tax, paid meals and boarding is only good for so long. The ship recovers back the money from you by charging you extra on many essentials things. Unless you manage your money well, it becomes so easy to loose your money on partying and having too much fun to counter the stress you will encounter on the job.

Lastly, I've been on different ships and most ships are managed by ships officers and I have to say they are bunch of pompous europeans who are filled with ignorance and arrogance. I now have this fixed image about europeans and I am blaming it all on those jerks in white uniforms who thinks too highly of themselves.

I have more to say but I am going to bed maybe there will be others with similar thoughts continue posting comments about there experiences, Thanks for your attention and good luck.

To steiner cronies, kiss my....

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comment by "tsheal"
on Apr 2008

Response to 2nd commentator who wrote "Wow that has not been my experience..."

First of all you are absolutely correct that Steiner can not control to make all ships potentially profitable for all Acupucnturists to earn $1000/week. I think that is exactly the point the original author was trying to make.

Secondly, there is a quota for how much product steiner demands to be sold for each worker including the Acupuncturist. This is a enormous pressure and if you fail to make quota continuously then ultimately the worker will be reprimanded with more useless training that make the worker even more over worked.

Thirdly, you can not be prepared enough for this job no matter who you are. It's a twelve hour shift with only 1.5 days off per week. Plus on the last night of the cuise week all workers including Acupuncturist must participate in port cleaning (cleaning treatment rooms) and mandatory meeting which make it become 14 to 15 hour shift on that day.

Additionally there are other miscelaneous mandatory chores for staff member of the ship to participate in drills and safety classes. Not to mention strict regulations that limits your freedom on the ship.

Also, the so called training Steiner provide is heavily focussed on selling there product line that has nothing to do with Acupuncture. Not to mention the outrageous prices they expect workers to sell it for. Like someone said this is a business and it is definitely geared toward making money at all cost to workers who was willing to have come so far to work for them (Steiner.)

The ship's life is nothing like you have ever experienced. It's operation is conducted in heirachecal manner ordered by officers and rest of the crew is treated as second or third class mates (citizens.) Ship's inside culture below the passengers deck is a domain where lines are clearly drawn between the have and have nots (of stripes.)

Finally the original commentators intention was to shed some light on matters that are not shared by Steiners recruitment to prevent negative image. If there is any negativity in the truth than it's certainly not the original commentators fault or intention. It's just the way truth is sometimes.

It's very suspicious to have someone seemingly so defensive and protective on Steiners behalf. If you really are currently working on the ship you should know how physically and emotionally draining it is to work at Steiners Spa. Employees are over worked and under paid and the major topic of many conversation among workers are feelings of animosity toward management and yearnings to return home.

Most workers at the Spa comes from econimically strained society and sure they are considered previliged compared to others back home but they are enormously strained by unrelenting demands to make more money for the Spa and being burned out is just matter of time and if you say you are immune to this condition then you must of been working for another company other than Steiner.

I think this issue can only seem negative to those who have a stake in protecting Steiners policy and position. I personally haven't met any Acupuncturist who haven't negative complaints toward Steiner.

Steiner provides a rare opportunity for work to some what jobless market for Acupuncturists but at the same time it's far from being a great career opportunity either. For the amount of same effort and time it can be more beneficial for the future cause to focuss on building you own practice on land where home belongs.

For those of you who are fresh out of school and adventurous with endless source of energy this opportunity might interest you,but it is definitely not for everyone and in order to determine that you need to know the negative as well as the positive. I don't see any wrong in shedding a light on negative issues. What is purpose of covering up the truth in first place. This world is not perfect and we are mature enough to know the raw truth if we are going to commit to a six month contract with Steiner.

Ofcourse during the course of your stay onboard there are wonderful opportunity to travel and meet people from all over the world and it's very fun and exciting at times spend time with new friends you'll make but at the end it has to be worth it to stay away so long from home and enduring a long contract that will eventually wear you out.

Let's not sweep the truth under the rug instead we should confront it face to face and make an informed decision about your own career path.

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comment by "roberta1"
on Jan 2009

I could see why you may have had a positive experience for a few reasons:

1. small ship

2. easy going manager or not top producing manager at Steiner

3. Massage therapists and others in the Spa who are not jealous of you for your double sized bed, single room!

4. Not expected to work till 7, 8, or 10 and then leave, only to have to come back for a midnight meeting or 2 am meeting.

5. Not have to stand on your feet for 4 hours to demo acupuncture while repeating yourself 1000 times while everyone else is making money by booking new ship guests as they walk in

6. have management who sees Acupuncture as making money rather than holidng them back since they think massage therapists and facialists make more

7. Not have jerk and pissy attitude spa managers who use britsih diplomacy and get back at you if you disobey or piss them off by accident when you forget one of the million things that have changed since the last meeting or don't have fingerprints cleaned from your walls when they use UV rays to check it out during inspection

8. Not have asshole colleauges who get jealous of you when you make some money the two days you have clients, while they have bookings nonstop, or the fact that you are not them and are treated better with supposedly better hours

etc. etc.

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comment by "roberta1"
on Jan 2009

I totally agree and I think we may have had that short kinda fat British a-hole guy and his American ionerthermy girlfriend (she sleeps with the manager and they get free treatments from us when they want). I forgot their names. I was on Liberty of the Seas in 2007. You?

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comment by "roberta1"
on Jan 2009


I went to work on NEW Liberty of the Seas at Turku for 6 mths and came back after 1 month after being very very ill and over-worked. I arrived at 3:30am on the first day and after filling in papers for 2 hours I then went to my room which had old pee in the toilet and was dirty and the room smelled. The housekeeper only came to clean the room half ass 1 or 2 x s a week, not every day. I had to be at work at 7am (not much sleep and JET LAG! I flew in from Vancouver, BC Canada to Turku, Finland. They put me on a new ship with the most asshole manager who made them money --he has this girlfriend who was an ionerthermist and was our co-worker--imagine all the benefits she had but actually was really mature even when he was not. The sickness most people get on board is similar to Hep A bc people who cook your food or pick up the buffet utensils, dont wash their freaking hands (fecal oral) and it makes you puke, get diahrrea, fatigue etc. I did not have rest since the start of the trip esp. with jet lag and there were numerous training days on top of dealign with jealous co-workers. Acup's get their own room, and have double beds. They are supposed to have a 10 hour work day with a reasonably timed meeting if necessary (not 14 hour days and meetings at 12 am or 2 am!!! So much injustice happened to me that I wish I COULD SUE THEM. I told managers over and over through emails how much hell I was goign through with the Spa Manager--he wanted me to fail / acupuncture to fail as a part of Steiner b.c he didn't see any money coming from me so that would mean a lack of money for him. he was the top grossing manager --this short, fat British guy.

They thought I was trying to jump ship and escape into New York just b.c they came into my room and I hadn't had time to unpack for a month. I also was upset from being sick and my manager kept harrassing me to come back to work while being sick...threatening me one way or another. He would call me in the morning, afternoon and night for the 4 days I was stuck in my room (no contact b.c this was contagious). Finally, they broke into my room while I was naked in my bed , and I had 4 levels of management and one guy from offshore, and my own 2 managers from miami come in. They threatened all kinds of things. 8 hours later they convinced me to go back to work while sick or go to another ship (the worst one for business) immediately or fly back home on my own money. My colleagues during my 1 month (the veterans of cruise work) were actually trained to hate on the newbies until they broke our spirits and then turned us into robots--so much abuse!! mental, physical, emotional etc. etc.

I cant write anymore, it hurts to recall it. I never went back. Bastards.

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comment by "drchi"
on Mar 2009

I worked on the Liberty of the Seas and loved it. I suppose everyone has a different experience. I met my fiance on board and now I arrange my contracts around him. I made average money, around $800 a week. I think I could have done better with a different itinerary, however that was enough for me to leave with a savings (and a husband!).

Working at sea can be difficult, but so can everything else. I think its what you make of it. Some people don't like to travel, and if that is the case, then I can see how this job could be difficult-as working on board really reminded me of traveling through Europe when I graduated college-always meeting new people and always feeling somewhat ungrounded-but always excited about each days adventure.

Reading the above blog really reminded me of how different peoples experience can be as I didn't experience anything like that and I lived on the Liberty for 6 months.For those interested, I recommend talking to a variety of different people that have worked on board. Everyone will give you a slightly different perspective-and all are important if you are thinking of making a commitment. It is a great opportunity for some of us, its just important to determine whether or not its a great opportunity for you.

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comment by "MuChuPoint"
on Mar 2009

Dont be fooled by the posts that read " its up to you to make it what you want" or " I had a really good time" etc etc,total BS . You work long hours (10-12+), constantly hustling and promoting. If you dont produce and book multiple insanely priced acu treatments and sell their over priced spa and OM herb products to the level that the spa manager and the stateside managers thinks is good enough , you end up getting harassed with selling lectures and late meetings. I was average and I was still harassed to do more and more, Someone said that the Russian Gulag intermin camps for re-education were nicer places, No lie, no US labor laws protect you on the ship. You are in international waters . Its not about introducing Acupuncture to the cruising masses its all about making bank for the cruise lines, spa managers and spa company. You get 16% of what you bring in. Do the math, I barely made $800 / week a few times. Mostly, you will be seeing from $500 - $600 a week, Keep in mind your salary is held back for a month. So the first month you better have some money to hold you for the 30 days until you get paid. To add insult to injury after my contract ended I had to constantly bug them for my last check which finally arrived two months later. Its all computerized and they gave you this BS about clearing this bank or that fund. Do not buy into any of the nonsense about how glorious a job it is to work on a cruise ship. I agree Acupuncturists should form a union to protect themselves from this kind horrible treatment. Remember you are working in a Spa for a Spa company and not a healthcare clinic.

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comment by "cruise_pt"
on Apr 2009


it is quite amazing that steiner transocean do not cause many more comments from their previous employees at sea. it is not important if one were employed in their onboard spa/beauty/fitness centers as cosmetician (beauty th.) or podiatrist or massage th. or even a manager. most of the people were overworked, underappreiated and mistreated during the length of their contracts at sea.

reading this and some other experiences here on this site -- came to understanding that some people are meditating of organizing "union defence" or alike form of resistence to steiners prior signing employment contact with them or after once finding themselves aboard and starting work in their salons and other premises previously mentioned...

to kill this idea at first -- i would like to point that there is no such thing as "unionized" approach when dealing with them. these people... steiners are private owned company, their trust of firms is registered offshore, their owner is non-scroupulous, their office staff incapable and uninterested (parasites, whose salaries are payed from income made on the ships directly by seagoing employed staff)...

this company steiner is expanding year after year, acquiring other companies in business and eliminating them out of the biz game. they did that firstly with coiffeur transocean (company i started to work with back in the 90s), then in early 2000's they bought mandara spa. also greenhouse later on ,etc.

thing is -- they know how to do business of exploitation young, inexperienced, people with qualifications like massage th., hairdressing, fitness instr., and in newer time even people with college degrees like acupuncturists.

they use tricks and gimmicks making networks of international recruitment agents directly and a number of "cruise line employment agencies" indirectly to do this.

me, myself am physiotherapist with master's degree (msc pt) and have started to work as massage therapist with coiffeur transocean back in 1992. right after graduating from school. at that time masseurs have been payed a way better then now, and were not overworked like they are now with steiners.

i will not speak about percentages here as that is past tense. ships were smaller, older, pax. load less, we worked from 6-8hours daily and cleaning was out of pleasure and not out of being pushed to do it as it is now.

atmosphere: better, 6-12 people in salon/spa teams, i still remember so many nice details from that time.

i am still a friend with some people i met along working on the ships then.

team was mostly british, sa, kiwi, australian in origin and i was a rare breed coming from republic of slovenia, small country in middle/central europe.

anyway, when steiners took over, the new system of brain-drain, retail/lash/push was enforced and the most of all i hated -- steiner "managers". people who were educated to perform beauty/hair work, being promoted "from within" toward management positions leading teams without knowledge, style and finesse to do that.

most of the time i was the most educated person in the team and managed by beautician who get that position thanks to ability to sell a lot of steiner cosmetic products or having sex with decission maker.

steiner is really a company that can be explained like in previous sentence. selling.

services come third or not of significant importance.

people suffer and are attracted with false promises and get soon dissapointed. and willing to leave.

steiner charges for all expences includind "training" on their so-called "maritime training academy" in harrow weald in london. airfare, accomodation, uniforms are being payed out of employees pocket and one might feel more like buying a franchise doing this, then to get regular employment aboard !

situation with acupuncturists is as i see better then with the rest -- single cabin allotment, independence in work and a way higher percentage then the others 20% compared with 7,25%.

tip is a part that make the most of employees income for those working in service providing posts aboard cruise ship -- so the idea of that is something i will not be discussing here.

i will continue this writing as soon as i receive any comment from readers that will point me in some particular direction of their interest and i might be able to answer that based on experience and informations i might have.

in the meantime -- good luck and may your career decission be right :) !

cruise pt--

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comment by "Sehorfjc"
on Sep 2009

Thank you for ginving me a head's up about acupuncture on a cruise ship. I had thought, at one time that it might be an option to explore. I'm glad I didn't.

Good grief, working 10-12-14 hour days is just too much. I'm not a kid anymore. Having to stand and do lectures to promote yourself 4hours a day? It seems to me that if you invested that much time to promoting youself on land, it would have to pay off.

I worked in a spa as MT once that pushed people to make sales and were even talking about docking paychecks if people didn't meet certain quota, so I can relate to the demoralizing effect of the brow beating.

It seems like the people who are satisfied with this this type of situation are in the minority.

Thanks again for sharing your experience.

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comment by "anon94556"
on Jul 2010

Wow, sounds like you had it bad, no doubt. Me, I&#39ve done 4 contracts and left on good terms with the company. No question about it, Steiner is a very exploitive, dysfunctional, 19th Century style of company. Managers can make or break your contract. Luckly I had pretty decent managers - all of them were younger than me and female, so we typically got along fairly well with me being a older male with a strong military leadership background.

Actually, I think having a military background at least mentally prepared me for the constraints (to put it politely) of ship life and spa life. I was definitely not the typical Acupuncturist on board as I was mid-career acupuncture-wise.

If this experience were for anyone, I&#39d say that its for those fresh-out-of-school, those looking to retire soon and travel cheap, or those who are suffering from stagnation of one sort or another.

You absolutely have to take control of your on-board practice, get it out of the hands of the manager who usually doesn&#39t have a clue one what to do with it anyway. I completely eliminated any "desk duty" by means of what I call "intentional incompetence" - I screwed up the bookings so bad that land-based management put a standing order of no more desk duty. That taken care of, I nailed down my schedule so that every manager followed my lead.

I really positioned myself as one person they didn&#39t have to worry about. So they left me alone.

The money was at times lacking, usually $800 - $1000 per week. I pretty much ignored the whole retail issue, using the herbs as appropriate. I managed to keep my dignity and itegrity during my time with Steiner.

If you are not a strong personality, just find something else, this is just not for you!

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comment by "mpahl02"
on Aug 2010

Wow! I cant believe some of the whining here. You obviously have not had a succesful land based clinic or spent the time to start one.

I have worked for Steiner for 5 years and they are hard in some respects BUT this is the only place in the world where you can make whatever you WANT. There are no limits other than there are only so many days per cruise. I have easily made over $1000 per week, every week. For 5 years. I have had cruises where I made 2500 in tips! Yes, I did work my butt off and I am happy I did.

In case you dont know- You have NO expenses on the ship! Yes, there could be a larger room that you live in (think single dorm room) or better food but there is no cost for either one of these major expenses. You can always eat on shore in the ports and spend whatever you want.

Another thing nobody ever thinks about is TRAVEL. I have seen over 70 different countries and all it has cost me is time- not one nickel. I have saved more money than the average person retires with. Have you ever seen a flying fish outside of your treatment room? Or done yoga during a full moon on the ocean?

Will you be challanged?

Of course. Have you ever started your own practice? That is challenging also- rent a space, buy equipment, do advertising, figure out how to occupy your idle time- and ALL of this costs MONEY! Plus you still have to live somwhere and eat everyday, costing more money. Again, all these expenses will happen and you may not treat one single person in a month.

What will you do when you want to take vacation or move to a new location- again you will spend money and lots of time to make this happen.

On the ship many of the issues mentioned can be a factor but these are usually ONLY a factor for people that come on the ship and think they are in student clinic (wait for someone else to schedule your patients) or have such an ego that they are better than everyone else because they practice acupuncture (we are not, we just provide a service that most people dont understand why they would want it.)

Steiner is a corporation, and these tend to want to make money to stay in business- imagine that! So there will be demands but these demands put money in your pocket. You will be making money on your first or second day of work, and expected to do so. The more success you demonstrate the more freedom and respect (and money) you EARN- imagine that?

Will your current job/practice plans pay back your tuition loans in 14 months of work and let you see other parts of the world?

Who demands your business to succeed on land? Nobody, that is why most of us dont practice very long. Me, this is my 19th year.

Why did I join up? To travel and take one year off of my private practice (5 years latter- I&#39m still traveling.)

I have treated patients out at sea that would never have come to me on land because they would just stay with their current MD. Out here, they have time and are willing to try acupuncture and herbal medicine because I am available to them.

I have become an amazing presenter, even asked to speak about the medicine at land based medical clinics because most of the people in our seminars are western MD&#39s and nurses. They are interested and in NEED of our treatments. They, like most of us, are just too busy to take the time at home. Yes, we are needed to do seminars- and are trained to do so. I did not have to pay for toastmasters, but it is something I wrote in my goals for over 10 years in private practice.

You have a choice but also a chance to become better and build this amazing medicine. I for one, am more than happy to be a part of the largest group of practicing acupuncturists in the world. We are making a difference out here. We are changing lives and making yours better whether or not you work with us.

What are you doing today to change the world into a better place?

If you have any questions, I will try and offer a "real world" opinion. BUT If you are lazy and think this is a simple vacation and you will be given money for doing nothing, this is not the place for you. I average 48 hours per week- with no expenses and free travel and earn retirement level income.

Got to go- a swim in the bay in St Maarten today!

Make it a great day!

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comment by "nbs4879"
on Nov 2010

Can someone please tell me what sort disorders or dysfucntion does one come across on the cruise, since these are short trips the follows would be very difficult.



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comment by "anon94556"
on Nov 2010

For me it was a bunch of pain management conditions - with LBP ruling the roost. Did not do one acu facial (thank god...) during my 3 years.

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comment by "annakyack"
on Nov 2010

Well, I wish I had read the reviews prior to working on the ships with Steiner. It is great in one way as I was straight out of a 4 years degree and the different conditions were excellent to treat. Being my second career I found myself conselling the Spa team and treating Carpal Tunnel and Shen disturbance continually.

When you arrive it is like strict high school with the military demands. You do learn to adjust after several people yelling at you...once I ate an apple in the I95 and was repremanded servely by security!?!!

Unlike the massage therapists who work way too many hours, if we as TCM Dr&#39s did not diagnose our brains would not function like theirs. Most are on too party and have a good time and your Manager can make or break you. Ours was fired for sexual harrassment and was, if I may say, an American Douche Bag!

My advice is the bigger the ship and the older the clietale/guests the better is it is for you. I now know the ropes and if I do decide to go again I will have a different game plan. If the contract is only 3 months it would be much better as I was contracted for 7. The time on the ship goes fast and it also goes very need a great itinery to make $$$. The cruise line makes all the your homework.

I hope that helps some people who are considering the work......and remember you can always leave. They tell you a fine must be paid, but everyone who left the ship never paid it to Steiner. We had people coming and going all the time in our spa...huge turnover.

thanks and good Qi to you

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comment by "mlvsquirrel"
on Jul 2011

Working as an acupuncturist on cruise ships was one of the best experiences of my life. In less than 2 years of working on board I went to 7 continents and 50 countries. In my spare time, I volunteered for shore excursions and often gathered lots of patients while on them. I truly think that this experience is what you make of it. You can make yourself miserable, or you can thrive. Working for Steiner, Dan and Stephanie had my back the entire way. If I had a problem with a manager, they immediately sent out a mass email to resolve it without throwing me under the bus. I worked 52 hours a week and still had plenty of time for fun. It all depends on how you manage your time. I know some people complain about the percentage you earn, but I over doubled that percentage with tips. Plus, when I think of how much the shore excursions alone cost, plus room and board, I can hardly believe what a good deal it was. To pay for the trips I went on would have cost more than I could have made in several years and I actually came home with money saved. I also learned how to be a confident public speaker which has helped me more than I could have ever imagined being back home. The only reason I left ships is because I wanted to start building something at home. All in all, I highly recommended giving ships a try. I loved it. But go in knowing, that your experience there depends on you and what you make of it. The more friends you have on board and the more you get out there with the guests, the busier you will be.

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comment by "sanyinjiao"
on Jul 2011

Jingmaster: ...haha you make a good point all around ! I am sure you can tell some great stories : ) !!

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comment by "anon94556"
on Jul 2011

sanyinjiao: I totally understand where you are coming from. I worked in one of the spas off and on for 3 years after working in a acupuncture-based public health setting for nearly 7 years. I found that I had exchanged my burnout of the public health sector for the stress of working for a big business with big expectation$$$. That all said, it was an overall good experience, as I did learn a lot about how to (and how not to) do business.

I agree with you, that if the practitioner really works the business side of things its easy to make upwards of $6k per month and still have a lighter schedule that on the ships.

On the flip side there is something to be said about visiting Cozumel, Grand Cayman, and St. Thomas about 100 times. Then there are those spa girls... I&#39ll leave those stories for different forum.

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comment by "mlvsquirrel"
on Jul 2011

It really is amazing how different the experiences and perceptions are for those who worked on ships. My experience actually was glamorous because I got to travel all over the world, literally. I don&#39t just mean a few countries here, I was world cruising. I never once felt like I was pushing myself on people or pressing them for tips, or retail for that matter. When people were happy with the results, I just said, spread the word, tell your table, let people know that it helped you and that helps me. The other thing that was crucial was rebooking. Acupuncture is not a one treatment miracle so let people know up front. I told them that in my seminars. . . give it at least 3 sessions to see what it can do, bla bla bla. I was almost always the busiest person in the spa. I also kept my friends in the spa very busy, to the point I had people asking for trades because they wanted me to promote them. Yes I worked hard. Yes I was exhausted by the time I went on vacation. Yes I loved it anyway. Honestly, prove yourself on your first ship and you can soon find yourself in Egypt, Dubai, India, Myanmar, Antarctica, The Amazon, Austrailia, Jordan where ever! I went to every place I just mentioned, btw. I know a lot of people who haven&#39t even heard of some of the countries I have been too. If you love to travel and are looking for a way to do it, go for it. If you need tips on how to be successful and how to get good ships so you can actually go to all of these fun places, I am more than willing to give advice and share what worked for me.

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comment by "sanyinjiao"
on Jul 2011

I am a registered Acupuncturist and myoskeletal alignment therapist, and I work my a$$ off in "my own clinic," and I make 3000.00 + a week. When I want to go on a cruise ...I take one.

heres my rant....

If you love what you do with passion, and you actually work the business side of running a clinic, you will not need these cruise ships gouging your well earned prifits, and catering to people for tip money... and pushing sales on people, like used car salesmen. This ( at least in my opinion) is not what inegrative healthcare and Acupuncture / tcm is about.

To each their own...but know this: There are much better ways to earn money, while keeping your moral and ethical standards intact, not to mention ones dignity.

Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture does NOT have to estabolish itself along the same lines as "makeup and hair" ...IF do not want it to.

I for one will quit this very rewarding carreer before I scrounge for tips off the backs of tourists in some spa. ( but thats just me)

Just know that there are more dignified ways to earn money ( if you so choose)

And to those who like their cruise ships and spa style acupuncture, and tip money...more power to you. But also know that we are not all tarred with that same brush !!!!!

Steiner is laughing all the way to the bank...with "your" hard earned money, your "dignity," and your "reputation with other legitimate healthcare workers." jus sayin&#39

Sorry for the tone...but "spa style acupuncture".."pushing product lines"...and "tips"...really cheapens this field, and irritates the heck outta someone who spends massive amounts of time promoting Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture (and all its modalities) as a legitimate field of healthcare .

Choose wisely, and best of luck :) Take care all !

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comment by "mickey"
on Nov 2011

I was interested in a postion on Steiners as an acupuncturist. After reading the comments I decided to do some homework. I contacted the company and asked questions that most therapists had issues with. My main concerns were about pay,hours,training and if I need to recruite clients. All of the complaints about this company are true. I do need to recruite my own clients. It is a commission based pay. I would not get paid for training or a hotel room. There are too many negatives for me to say " yes". I feel that a company that makes so much money IS taking advantage of their employees. Glad I checked this site first.

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comment by "madamebwolfe"
on Jan 2012

The last posting on L.Ac.&#39s working as acupuncturists on Steiners was over a year ago. I am looking at doing this since I&#39ve retired and was wondering if there are any recent experiences out there?


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comment by "wendythegoodwit"
on Apr 2012

my daughter is experiencing the same treatment. She quit her 2 jobs, sold off most of her belongings and borrowed money from ME to fund this experience of a lifetime. She is a hairstylist and travelled to the UK to Steiners INFAMOUS Academy. When she arrived in the UK she was at the YMCA as told in her interview. The so called medical that she had to pay 250 pounds for consisted of a chest xray and listening to her lungs. That was it. After a week they put her in a "host home" i was never told about such living arrangements prior to her leaving. She was told by the "host home mother" that she was not allowed to be on SKYPE because it was noisey. She had a curfew of 10 pm even though the Y was 11. One night she was given permission to stay out past curfew because of a going away party for a classmate leaving for SHIP....she was then locked out of the host home and i had to put a hotel room on a credit card so that she would not have to sleep on the streets. STEINER doesn&#39t care about the safety of the girls. She was then dicked around constantly and people were arriving and getting placements within a week, girls far less superior with their skills. Because my daughter was a bit heavier and didn&#39t look as slutty as the others she was not given placement. After 5 weeks and no money left it was just her and the other, as she called "FAT" girl left in class. She was used to teach the classes while the instructor left the room to go do whatever. Incidentally in light of the Costa Concordia disaster i find it funny that STEINER does not do any training on ship safety. NOTHING when the staff arrive at the SHIP and are expected to work immediately they know nothing about safety procedures. They are immediately made to "guide" passengers to safety should a disaster occurr, just like on CONCORDIA.....the staff didnt&#39 know what to do. FINALLY she was given her ship, the instructor told her they had selected this ship just for her. She was flown to New York to board a plane the next day for her Port. She was picking up the Ship midway thru it&#39s journey. I had to foot the bill for the New York Hotel even though she was told they would pay and they didn&#39t. WHen she arrived at the Port she had 5 minutes to spare before the ship left port. Steiner had not informed the spa manager she was coming, or so she said. THe spa manager was EVIL to her from the get go. Treating her and others like lowlifes. She was harassed about her "appearance, her image wasn&#39t Steiner material" well then why the heck didn&#39t they weed her out at the initial interview. They wanted her money that&#39s why. She was treated in a manner that would have the employer charged with harrassment in Canada. I guess there are no laws at sea. She was threatened to be kicked off in foreign ports with no money , luggage or passport. Finally she was told by SHIP STAFF and note i have not used any cruise name YET.....because i did post something on their website and she was harrassed almost immediately. I&#39m sure they have "lurkers" on their pages who report back immediately. She was called to the ship office and told that they want her off the boat she is a trouble maker. I booked her a flight back to Canada which they approved only to be told 2 days later NO she coudl not board that flight and mUST book another that was a direct flight with no stopovers in teh USA.....I have now paid for 2 flights home for her with no chance of reimbursement. We are out thousands of dollars. All you people who think its glamourous...IT IS parents, her grandparents even surprised her on the ship.....we were all so excited about it. THey arrived for the spa tour, she saw her grandma&#39s face and burst out in tears with joy. She was told by the spa manager to "FIX HER MAKEUP THAT"S NOT A STEINER GIRL" mother went on to book her hair appointment only to have the manager say "we have many talented girls i can book you with" my mother wanted her GRANDDAUGHTER...the ()&&* spa manager was actually diverting clients away from my daughter, her own grandmother almost didn&#39t get a booking. SO GO TO HELL STEINER when you say these girls and guys can make lots of money, NOT if they don&#39t whore themselves out for you and adhere to all your brainwashing. Beware you have not heard the last of me or others. The media will be all over this in light of all the cruiseship crap are low life bottom feeders STEINER>......

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comment by "Acudocs_Adventu"
on Jan 2014

Not How I See It...I ahd a great time and lookin gforward to more.

The first thing I want to say is to the posted of Steiner Abuse...I&#39m sorry that happened to you daughter but I do not believe it is the norm....And I can positively say that EVERYONE on the ship including Steiner crew are trained in safety for hours, drills are conducted before every cruise and safety is teh number one concern on ships. I will also say that I worked with many "spa girls" that were a little heavy and not the petite model type girls. I&#39m not sayin gthis didn&#39t happen to you daughter, again just not the norm.

I have completed three contracts with Steiner and after a year off am set to go back in a couple months. I know of the horror stories and yes some are true but it has been my experience they are few and far between.

I agree with mpahl02, and I know who that is but as he did not post his name I won&#39t say out of respect. I also posted here a couple years ago how I thought some were just a bunch of whiners and not living in the real world but it looks like that post was deleted....this one might be

You get what you put into it. I was one of the top earners for Steiner because I applied myself. And yes there can be managers that can make your life hell. But I found, at least on the acupuncture side of things that management (Dan, Stephanie, Lisa and Martin) ALL had your back and wre only a phone call or email away. I will say that I was lucky in that sense as I never had a monster for a manager but had one that had no clue and was horrible at her job.

The perks are great as an acupuncturist. You get the run of the ship, private cabin, you do your own scheduling (unless you are not doing well in which the manager will step in), I had plenty of port time off, made great friends, free food, free lodging and great travel. And as I said money wise I did very well. Because of that I was allowed to pick the ships I wanted etc. You do well you are rewarded, you don&#39t you are not...just like with ANY company!

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comment by "Dranish"
on May 2015


lastmonth I worked with Steiner for 15 days as an Acupuncturist on Disney Dream
Cruise to know their work procedure and environment, so that I should send the
Acupuncturists from my country to learn the skills in Acupuncture . They are
providing Acupuncture worldwide on cruise lines. Working on sea is a wonderful
experience for those who are new in Acupuncture and want to travel free of
cost. They are offering this service on the cruise along with their Spa
Department. The status of the Acupuncturist is of officer grade, so lot of
respect is given to the acupuncturist by the whole cruise staff. Free
accommodation and free food is available on board, which makes the journey
exciting. Lot of things to be learned during this period. You will learn how to
communicate with the new guests and to tell them about acupuncture, which makes
you perfect in your coming practice. Upper staff like Dan Brown (Director
Operations) and Stephanie (Manager) are very cooperative and you can discuss
your problems with them directly. Both are senior Acupuncturists, so can better
understand your woes. Sometimes differences with the Spa managers occur, but
you can consult with Dan Brown in this regard and the problem can be solved

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comment by "Epmallory1"
on Jul 2015

Hi, I have been doing acupuncture for 18 years in the U.S. I have also done Clinical Supervising at one of the acupuncture schools. I am now starting in a new city again. I would prefer to get myself out and speak and market. TOASTMASTERS sounds to be a good suggestion. To gain some confidence. Not quite sure which groups to promote myself.
I have a family, and would hate to have to work on a ship to provide for them. Thanks for marketing suggestions.

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comment by "anon173227"
on Sep 2016

I worked on the different cruise lines with different managers and I do agree with all the comments and I can relate to all of them. Acupuncturist work under spa managers who has very little education and get their position with playing politics and creating connections with senior managements and giving sexual favors in return of getting the position. Acupuncturists get their position with education and don’t know how to play politics and usually spa managers are jealous of our education and wants to provoke us. In addition of my own experience and meeting with other acupuncturists that worked with steiner, I never heard of any Acupuncturist that don’t have a problem with management. You work in the spa with south african, jamaican, British hairstylist, nail tech, facialist massage therapist fitness instructor all of the sudden they become your boss and talk down to you and boss you around.

If you have a problem with a manager, steiner never gets the practitioner side almost all the time gets the managers side. It is very unfair.

Acudocs_Adventure = it is great you are enjoying your time but not all the acupuncturist are on their 60s like you and have grandchildren.

Mpahl02 = obviously you have worked with Steiner’s Acupuncture sales and revenue! if it is a great of an opportunity, you wouldn’t quit years ago already.

Danish= this page is about advising acupuncturists the truth not lies yes Dan and Stephanie can be helpful but they have a lot of supervisors and bosses. You only lasted 3 weeks on your first contract onboard Disney Dream because you had a problem with a manager who started on Disney painting little girl’s toes and all of the sudden became your manager and made your life miserable and took the acupuncturist cabin and gave it to the receptionist and no acupuncturist were able to get it back!! on every cruise line receptionist have to share a cabin.

If you are thinking about working on the cruise ship and you have a job opportunity on land, I recommend to stay on land and go on the cruise as a passenger. I work so much less on land and make much more money.

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comment by "ChadD" (acupuncturist)
on Jun 2017

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