Casper, you must have been working on the ships a bit later than the ones mentioned. At least , I hope so !
They were mainly referring to the 1920's and I dare say it was pretty constant work, but that was what I meant, when saying too much work was better than too much idle time.
It doesn't feel like work when you live onboard. Just get up in a morning and hey presto, you are there.
I worked on cruise liners in 1970's and it was a fantastic life. Yes we worked hard but also had plenty of free time when in port. Did all the things the passengers did. Our pay of £8 per week, was to spend on what we wanted. However, we were not allowed to fraternise with the passengers, there again we didn't need to, other than a friendly word or provide any assistance needed.
Nearly got chucked off for getting drunk at the Captains cocktail party ! Whoops. For every guest it was the, 'one for you and one for me' scenario
To be honest, they were the best days of my life. After that I still went to sea as a wife, that was even better.... lazed around all day. The crew didn't really work hard then, plenty of time for themselves but that was before the quick turn around and a week or so in port was quite usual. Will say that it was my first insight on how bitchy men can be to each other. Worse than women!
The Cunard ships in the early half on the 1900's would have probably been back breaking work for the chaps shovelling the coal and that I dare say, could have been pretty gruesome at times.