FOR THE CREW of television's "Love Boat," it's never mind fall, never mind winter. As usual, they'll be off having adventures and curising between sunshine ports.
Now hear this: So will their real-life counterparts.
Some people don't just dream about traveling, they do it and get paid for it.
"Cruise ship staff jobs are ideal for young men and women who want to travel and see the world for a time. It's nothing to make a career of, though, and very few stay with it past five or six years," says Ed Abramson, whose Bramson Entertainment Bureau of New York City supplies ships with various kinds of non-nautical staff members.
That's "various" as in "probably more far-out than you'd ever guess" and by no means are all the jobs strictly for the young or for long terms. Cruise lines, it seems, require more than someone to drive the ship and oil the engines. And depending on the assignment, they may hire people for as little as three months, sometimes a single trip. Also, in some instances, no pay is involved; ships barter trips for services.
For example, Delta Steamship Lines (formerly the Grace Line), which sails up, down and around South America, has recently been scouting for guest lecturers: anthropologists, historians, naturalists or any other specialist whose subject is "germane to our route."
Lecturers are in demand for many cruises, and the better they are the more they can ask in return. Usually, though, they swap their services in return for the trip and air fare for themselves and a spouse.
Artists, singers and musicians sometimes go to sea the same way. According to one cruise line executive, the big names who approach companies to barter their service "would make everyone sit up." Of course, he adds, offers from headliners "come to the line very subtly, not just in a request letter."
Earlier this year, an advertising layout artist exchanged his services for a cruise for himself, his wife and his children. He did his thing on land. Several clergymen and doctors did theirs at sea.
Cruise companies are especially interested in having chaplains along at holiday times or when there may be a large contingent of passengers presummed to be religious. Normally they conduct interdenominational services, although on occasion ships will have leaders of several faiths aboard to conduct a variety of services.
A ship carrying 50 or more passengers is required by international law to have a doctor on board, and there are also times when another doctor is needed on a "relief substitute" basis of for one or two trips. Reportedly many apply. For the most part, they have the right to charge passengers for their services but compensation from the ship is usually in the form of a free cabin and the same or similar amenities afforded to paying passengers.
By the same token, not many people working on a ship travel like passengers.
Lisa Jacocks of International Cruise Shops, a Miami agency that hires bar stewards, massiuses, beauticians and gift shop personnel for serveral lines, notes that while the gift shop staffers they place are considered "petty officers" and can mix with passengers in public areas of the ship, bar stewards are "crew" and cannot.
Bar stewards have other compensations, though. Like more money. The ones hired through International Cruise Shops are guaranteed $900 a month; in other words, if, for some odd reason, they don't make that in tips, the shipline will ante up. ICS gift ship employes get a base salary of $375 a month plus commission on what they sell.
"Senior staff," according to Ed Abramson, such as experienced cruise directors and social directors, might earn from $300 to $1,000 a week. (They are frequently required to have theatrical as well as administrative background so that they can fill in, if need be, for ailing performers.) "Junior staff," such as beginner youth activities counselors, draw about $150 to $200 a week.
Of course, the working hours on a cruise ship might not be everyone's idea of a dream come true. Abramson claims that 16-hour days, seven days a week, are not unusual. ICS's gift shop people have an average of 42-hour work week spread over seven days. They also get six weeks a year paid vacation, one or two weeks in each quarter.
Then there's Geri Bockes, a 31-year-old Tucson native who now works as a secretary to the hotel director aboard the liner Norway. She puts in a seven-day week plus four nights. The night work, however, is the stuff that feeds some people's fantasies: Bockes is the hostess at the Captain's cocktail parties for VIPs.
The children's counselors on Sitmar ships work eight hours a day, seven days a week -- and there's a waiting list for the job despite the fact that it pays no money, not even air fare to and from the ship's home port. Marion Bell of Fort Lauderdale is the "godmother" of this working vacation arrangement and gets five to 10 letters a day from as far away as New Zealand inquiring about openings.
Those chosen share a small ship's cabin with three other counselors, which means they have to be gregarious as well as responsible and good at getting along with adults as well as children. When they're off duty, they can mix with the passengers, but they're "discouraged" from mingling with the ship's officers.
For summer, Ms. Bell is always inundated with applications from teachers, but successful applicants, who have ranged in age from 22 to 65, have come with experience in scouting and day care centers, too. "What I look for is reliability and love of children," she says.
They're supervised by the ship's permanently employed "youth coordinator" and normally go for one cruise at a time. Many become repeat performers later. They ususally get wind of the program by word-of-mouth, although virtually all cruise lines have personnel officers who will either take applications for some or all jobs directly, or tell job hunters the name and address of whatever agencies interview in their behalf. Cunard, for instance, tells lecturers to contact Expert Lecturers of Tenafly, N.J.
Perhaps the easiest kind of working vacation the would-be cruise-taker can qualify for is "tour conductor." All that may mean is that you've persuaded a group of friends to go on a cruise together -- with you "conducting" to the extend of booking arrangements through a travel agency. Most ships offer one free passage for every group of 15 people signed up, and an experienced travel agent can fill you in on who will do that.
The most important attribute you need to help you work your way out to sea? Maybe wit.
"Like all employers, cruise lines want the best," says one ex-chooser of helping hands. "So don't tell them your hopes and dreams. Dazzel them with reasons why they can't get along without you."