Shipboard Life


Stewards Department

The Steward’s Department provides food, linen, and other items basic to your comfort aboard. (Their job can be trying. Be understanding and cooperative.)

Serving hours for meals vary per vessel. They are typically posted in the galley. In port, meal hours may be different (check with the Steward). Do not invite guests aboard for a meal without first clearing with the Master or Mate on watch, as well as the Steward.

Each of Woods Hole’s ships has a common mess for both crew and science party. Pants or shorts, buttoned shirts or T-shirts (not undershirts), and shoes are required, and hats are to be removed before entering a messdeck at mealtime. If some aspect of the scientific program will make you late for a meal, be sure to notify the Steward in advance.

Treat members of the Steward’s Department with consideration. Be on time for meals, but do not be impatient when coincidence brings all hands to the table at the same moment and service is temporarily slowed. Stay clear when the Mess Attendant is cleaning the messdeck. When you are eating, return your plates and silverware quickly, even if you plan to linger and talk. When the ship is in port, plan to eat as early as possible. Members of the Steward’s Department will want to go ashore too and must first get their clean-up work done. Leave the night lunch for those working late watches. Clean up after your own night lunches and any mess you make. Loading food stores in port is an all-hands job; pitch in and help.

If you have any specific dietary/food allergy needs it is a good idea to discuss this with the steward as soon as you arrive aboard.

Clean linen is provided at the beginning of cruises and all are responsible for changing their own bunks and keeping their rooms clean. Soiled linen is left at a designated place in laundry bags at the end of the cruise.

Clothes washers and dryers are available for everyone’s use, with soap and bleach supplied. Fresh water should always be used sparingly. Do not put sneakers in the dryers. Service-style showers are good practice: wet yourself, turn off the shower and soap down, then rinse. Do not leave faucets dripping. Use fresh water sparingly in the laboratories as well.

You must provide all items for your personal use during the cruise with the exception of linen, soap, and food.


Video and DVD movies are aboard ship for general entertainment. A wide variety of reading material is available in the ship's library. The library also contains reference books commonly used by oceanographers and engineers.

Some form of exercise equipment is available on all WHOI ships. This equipment was purchased by the ship’s crew, so please care for it as though it were your own and return the gear to a secure position when you have finished your activity.

Tips for Going to Sea

Is it your first time going to sea?  Click on this link to find tips for going to sea that have been put together based upon the many years of seagoing personnel at the Institution.