Cruise Ship Sailor’s Shirt

This blue sailor’s shirt with a white-trimmed collar was part of the classic sailor’s uniform worn by a member of the Nautical Department aboard the Holland America Line’s cruise ship Zuiderdam in 2007. The uniform also included dark blue pants, a hat, and a name tag. The wearer, named Handriyo, held the position of “sailor AB (able-bodied)” and he reported to the ship’s boatswain.
The job involved performing maintenance and cleaning duties aboard the ship, including painting the ship inside and out; cleaning the outside decks and accommodations; working the mooring ropes; driving the ship’s tender; making small maintenance repairs; assisting in the maintenance of boats, rafts, and other gear on the deck; rigging cargo, baggage, and tender gear; opening and closing hatches; and baggage handling. In 2009, an entry-level, able-bodied seaman working aboard a typical cruise ship earned about $1,500 to $1,800 per month, with room and board provided on the ship.
Taking a cruise has become a popular leisure activity for many Americans. In 1980, 1.4 million Americans took a North American cruise and by 2005, that number had increased to 9.6 million. As both the number and size of cruise ships have grown, the number of people required to keep them running smoothly and to serve the needs of passengers has increased as well. Aboard the Zuiderdam, 800 crew work around the clock to fulfill the needs of 1,848 passengers.
Cruise ship employees are recruited from around the world for a wide variety of jobs, from waiters to chefs, housekeepers to massage therapists, and excursion leaders to fitness instructors. For the many jobs requiring interaction with passengers, workers must have a good command of English, and English-speaking workers from the Philippines or Indonesia (like Handriyo) fill many hospitality and service jobs aboard modern cruise ships. Americans are not typically attracted to most cruise-ship hospitality and service jobs because of low wages, long workdays at sea, and the hardship of having to be away from home and family for long periods of time.
Object Name
date made
ca 2007
overall: 30 in x 52 in x 3/4 in; 76.2 cm x 132.08 cm x 1.905 cm
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Clothing & Accessories
Contemporary United States
See more items in
Work and Industry: Maritime
On the Water
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Credit Line
Holland America Line
Publication title
On the Water online exhibition
Publication URL

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