How to Get A Job On A Cruise Ship

Has it been your dream to work on a cruise ship and you’re out of an idea of how to go about it? You don’t need to worry anymore because we’ve listed all the information you need to know about working on a cruise ship.

Work on a Cruise Ship

Discover your ideal career onboard by knowing why you should work on a cruise ship and exploring the cruise ship departments below.

Even if you’re a beginner or a seasoned professional, there are plenty of opportunities with great incentives and room for advancement.

Let’s match your skills and interests to the perfect job.

Jobs That Allow You to Work on a Cruise Ship

Cruise line businesses are continually striving to create improved ships. This means that the number of options for people who want to work at sea is growing.

You can find these opportunities in a variety of settings, including lodging, bartending, and fitness, as well as entertainment, daycare, and retail.

Below are some of the job offers you can get on a cruise ship;

1. Junior Assistant Cruise Director

Work on a Cruise Ship

The Junior Assistant Cruise Director is an entry-level role in the Cruise staff team, which organizes fun activities for guests such as trivia games, Zumba classes, and arts and crafts.

Your aim is to help create an entertaining experience for guests and make their vacations memorable by actively participating in events with enthusiasm.

To apply, you need at least two years of experience in entertainment and hospitality, including hosting activities for large groups.

Strong microphone skills are required. While talents like dancing, singing, or hosting sports events are a plus, you should be willing to participate in any onboard activities as part of a team.

2. Restaurant Department

Work on a Cruise Ship

The Restaurant department oversees dining services in all Food & Beverage venues, focusing on delivering excellent customer service to guests.

This involves collaborating with various departments and management levels to ensure smooth operations. There are different positions within the department, suited to different skill levels.

To apply for entry-level positions, candidates should have at least one year of experience in a restaurant, preferably in a fine dining setting.

They should also possess good written and verbal communication skills and be able to work efficiently in a fast-paced environment with minimal supervision.

3. Environmental Officer

Work on a Cruise Ship

The Environmental Officer’s role is to make sure that everyone on board the ship follows strict environmental rules, in line with the company’s values.

To qualify, you need to be a licensed Deck or Engineer officer with either a 2nd Deck Officer or 2nd Engineer Certificate of Competence.

Alternatively, you can have at least five years of experience working with environmental management systems.

4. Culinary Arts

The Culinary department takes pride in preparing fresh and delicious food with passion and attention to detail. They handle all food operations on the ship, catering not only to guests but also to crew members.

This department offers a variety of positions with different skill levels, so applicants will be matched with roles suitable for their experience.

To apply for entry-level positions, candidates need at least one year of culinary experience in a hotel restaurant or resort.

They should understand HACCP regulations and safe food-handling procedures, be able to work physically in a fast-paced environment with minimal supervision, and possess good written and verbal communication skills.

5. Paramedic / First Responders

Paramedics onboard are responsible for providing top-notch routine and emergency care to guests and crew.

They act as first responders, handling emergency calls, assessing and treating patients on the scene, and transferring them to the ship’s medical center when necessary.

Apart from their medical duties, paramedics handle administrative tasks to support the medical center’s smooth operation under the supervision of the Senior Nurse.

This includes equipment checks, inventory management, and participating in drills and training sessions. They also learn and practice technical skills onboard, such as X-rays and laboratory tests.

6. Hotel Services Engineer

Work on a Cruise Ship

As the leader of the onboard Hotel maintenance team, the Hotel Services Engineer ensures that both guest and crew areas look their best and any issues are fixed efficiently and cost-effectively, following our company’s strategy and values.

To qualify, candidates should have a technical qualification at OND or HND level or equivalent, along with at least two years of maintenance experience in the hotel or hospitality industry.

They should be able to read technical drawings and manuals and possess strong technical knowledge to effectively manage and guide officers and tradesmen of various skill levels.

7. Assistant Food & Beverage Manager

Work on a Cruise Ship

The Assistant Food & Beverage Manager helps oversee all food and drink areas onboard to ensure top-notch customer service, revenue growth, and cost management.

To apply, candidates need at least three years of experience in a related management role, including work in beverage operations, food preparation, and restaurant service within the hotel or cruise ship industry.

While not required, a degree from a recognized hotel/catering/culinary school is preferred.

8. Doctor

Work on a Cruise Ship

Doctors on board are responsible for providing medical care to both guests and crew.

They diagnose and treat illnesses and injuries, consult with patients, and coordinate referrals or evacuations when needed.

They also manage health programs for the crew and ensure adherence to public health practices. In addition to clinical duties, doctors handle administrative tasks and participate in training and drills.

They work closely with nurses and paramedics under the supervision of the senior doctor.

9. Bar Department

The Bar department oversees all guest bars and supports back-of-house bar locations on Princess Vessels.

They’re responsible for creating memorable experiences by serving high-quality drinks with warm, friendly, and professional service.

Entry-level positions include Bartender, Bar Steward, and Utility F&B Bars. There are plenty of opportunities for growth and training in this fast-paced and dynamic department.

To apply for entry-level positions, candidates should have at least one year of experience in a food & beverage environment serving beverages.

They should also have a basic understanding of bar products and presentations, be able to work efficiently in a fast-paced environment with minimal supervision, and possess good written and verbal communication skills.

10. Computer System Specialist

The Computer System Specialist provides primary support for all onboard computer systems, collaborating closely with the IT Officer.

Candidates need strong customer service skills, proficiency in computer applications, and at least two years of experience in user support and troubleshooting.

They must be able to handle multiple tasks, work well in a team, meet deadlines, and pay attention to detail.

Excellent communication skills are essential, and the ability to lift and carry IT equipment weighing up to 40 pounds is required. A CompTIA A+ certification or equivalent experience is preferred.

How Do I Get a Cruise Ship Job?

First of all, you must be 21 or older to work there. Along with that, you should have a valid passport, no criminal history, and the English language as your additional skills, of course, besides the job requirements.

Shipping lines that are the biggest cruise vessels normally get their employees through recruitment agencies like Holland America Group.

Those who are interested in volunteering with this agency should study the organization’s application processes first.

They used the majority of applications in CV and cover letter format, and they filled out the rest by the form.

You are required to individualize your application to the specific position just as with any other job role.

The fact that there are hundreds of people applying for each post requires you to individualize yourself and always point out the relevant knowledge.

In the majority of the opportunities, you will need to send in a photo with your application for jobs in the entertainment industry.

What are Cruise Ship Staff Qualifications?

While exact employment requirements vary depending on the profession, there are several basic standards that every crew must meet to work onboard:

1. Be twenty years old or older.

2. Conduct criminal background checks.

3. Have a good passport in hand.

4. Have a US C1/D visa (except you are not a Canadian or US citizen/resident).

5. Princess-themed examination certificate should be presented at the pre-employment medical examination.

6. Satisfy the English fluency level that is required for the job you are targeting.

How to Get Promoted on a Cruise Ship

One of the best aspects of working aboard a cruise ship is that advancement is not determined by seniority.

Mid-term and end-of-contract evaluations are used to make advancements.

Taking part in Career Path Transfer Programs, professional development courses, and registered work shadowing can all help crew members advance in their careers.

Most new-hire personnel will begin at the crew or staff level before progressing to the supervisory/managerial or officer level.

Good news: based on your work success, promotions can happen soon! It may also occur because of the ever-increasing number of new ships introduced to cruise ship fleets each year.

You will work 7-10 hours a day with 1-2 half days off, or one full day off per week, in port.

If you had a full day off on the ship, you would be scheduled to work that night when the ship set sail. Hence, it still was a 7-day workweek.

On some cruises, you will work with the 3-7-year-olds, other weeks the 8-12’s, and finally sometimes the 13-17-year-olds.

There were also times when you were assigned to supervise the pool areas or help the cruise Staff with hosting activities for the adult passengers on board.

The Pros of Working on a Cruise Ship

Work on a Cruise Ship

The advantages of working on a cruise ship are;

1. New People, Cultures

The hotel crew, of which you will be a part, does not interact with the passengers on the ship. The hotel personnel and crew members have their own dining and amusement rooms on board.

These are the people you’ll be interacting with daily. Cruise ships are like floating international hotels, and the crew is often global, with only a few Europeans.

The crew of a ship is usually between 25 and 30 people. The hotel personnel will number between 800 and 1,000 people. That means you’ll get the chance to meet new individuals as well as learn about other cultures.

2. Cheap Adventure

You travel and get paid. Sometimes to tourist destinations to which everyone travels, sometimes to places off the beaten path.

Your living expenses are minimal. You won’t spend money on utilities. The ship has generators that provide virtually unlimited power. The cost of your cabin and groceries is less than it is onshore.

Working at sea also provides a unique job experience. If you work in the food and beverage industry, cruise line experience can prove invaluable in future employment.

3. Experience Brilliant Weather, Sunsets, and Views 

If you are from a country with chilly winters, working aboard a cruise ship may be a good way to experience the sun and mild temperatures of the Caribbean, Hawaii, Australia, French Polynesia, or Central America.

Many memories await those who work aboard cruise ships, including sunsets at sea, traveling past Alaska’s glaciers, and transiting the Panama Canal.

4. Fun and Friendships 

You will encounter a diverse group of people from all around the world, and these foreign colleagues will become lifelong friends.

Consider how much time you spend with the same folks at work and at home.

Many deep relationships are created, and many unforgettable experiences. This includes many love connections that develop because of naval living.

5. Long Vacation 

Cruise ship crews enjoy long vacations despite not being paid.

Depending on your employment, your work schedule or rotation will vary. But you should plan on taking at least a two-month vacation at the end of your contract.

While many crews return home to see their families and friends, others choose to travel frequently with companions they met onboard.

6. Accumulate Frequent Flier Airmiles 

Although the firm that you work for pays for your flights to and from the ship, crew members have the option to earn air miles.

They can exchange Airmiles from some airlines for gift cards.

7. Discounts and Free Stuff 

They allow crew members to go on shore excursions for free as “tour escorts.” Although they do not force you to pay, you must remain with an allocated group from the cruise.

Crew members can also take advantage of reduced crew-only shore excursions.

Many local companies in port provide discounts to crews on food, shopping, and shuttles to town or the beach.

8. No Commute to Work

Forget about being stuck in traffic, paying for gas and parking, and having to get up early to get to work.

Working on a cruise liner entails getting dressed and traveling the elevator to your destination.

Consider the fact that you won’t need to drive home after a few beers at the crew bar.

9. Strict Code of Conduct 

Although some may consider a rigid code of conduct to be a disadvantage of working on cruise ships, it may also be one benefit.

Inappropriate behavior won’t be allowed, and only the most dedicated and hardworking crew members will survive aboard cruise ships.

10. Resume Boost 

On a resume, cruise ship employment appears fantastic. Not only will prospective employers be interested in cruise ship jobs and want to learn more about what it’s like onboard.  

But you’ll find that the skills you get onboard are transferable to land-based professions.

“Hardworking,” “experience working with an international workforce,” and “excellent customer service abilities” will all be highlighted on your resume.

Cons of Working on Cruise Ships

The disadvantages of working on cruise ships are;

1. Long Hours and No Days off

Crew members are often required to work an 11-hour day for three to nine months daily.

Although crew members rarely have full days off, they frequently use their free time to watch movies. Also to hang out with friends, sunbathe on deck, or go ashore.

2. On-Call 24/7

They assigned every member of the crew an emergency task, which they must complete in the event of an emergency.

The crew must report to their “crew alert station” in the event of a fire or other issue onboard.

Day or night, this may happen. There are also necessary crew drills and continuing training that may take place during your free time.

3. Lack of Privacy 

Most will expect crew members to share a small cabin and bathroom with another crew member, except for some cruise ship jobs.

Your cabin mate may or may not be a coworker, and they may or may not be a person of a different nationality than you.

4. Possibility of Seasickness 

The cruise ship may face terrible weather and powerful waves at any point during your contract, making you seasick.

Some members of the team are more prone to it, while others have learned to manage it.

5. They do not Onboard Cover Some Beverage Expenses 

Although the crewmember receives free meals onboard, refreshments such as canned soft drinks, bottled water, and alcohol are not.

Water, fountain drinks, and soda are free, and alcoholic beverages are cheap at the crew bar.

6. No Choice of Where to Travel 

Officers and crew (including the Captain) have no say in the route or cruise ship they will work on during their contract period.

Managers in the cruise line’s corporate headquarters make these decisions.

7. Expensive Cell Phone Charges 

Cell phone companies charge their customers international roaming prices while a ship is at sea. Crew members leave their phones in airplane mode to avoid using data or paying roaming costs.

In addition, many crew members get SIM cards for the countries they visit the most frequently and then exchange them for the cheapest phone prices. Most ships make WhatsApp use free.

8. Restrictions to go Ashore

Before COVID-19, staff had to wait until most passengers had disembarked before being allowed to walk ashore.

Currently, most ports do not allow crew members to leave the ship while it is docked (the cruise companies’ private islands appear to be the major exception).

It’s unknown when these restrictions will be lifted and crew members may disembark at the port.

9. Restrictions for Crew

Crew members may not be in guest areas when they are not on duty unless they have officer rank.

As a result, not every member of the staff may use the guest fitness facility. Also, eat in the guest facilities, or sunbathe in the passenger areas.

The crew has its own restaurant (crew mess) and recreational facilities (some ships have a crew pool).

10. Guests Can be Rude and Demanding 

Some cruise ship passengers will always be nasty and demanding, as with any job in customer service. They expect crew members to deliver outstanding service with a smile at all times.

Although, in some situations, they will ask visitors to exit from a ship because of poor behavior.

Which Cruise Companies Can I Work for?

Cruise ship jobs are available with a variety of cruise companies, including Avalon Waterways, Carnival Cruises, Celebrity Cruises, Costa Cruises, Cruise and Maritime Cruises, Crystal Cruises, Cunard, Disney Cruises, Fred Olsen Cruise Lines.

The rest are; Holland America Line, Marella Cruises (formally Thomson Cruises), MSC Cruises, Oceania Cruises, P&O Cruises, Princess Cruises, Royal Caribbean, Saga Cruises, Seabourn, Silversea Cruises, and Titan River Cruises.

Working on a cruise ship offers a unique and exciting opportunity to travel the world while pursuing your career.

It’s a chance to meet people from diverse backgrounds, learn new skills, and experience different cultures firsthand.

Even if you’re passionate about hospitality, entertainment, or healthcare, there’s a role for you onboard.

Plus, the sense of camaraderie among crew members and the adventure of life at sea make it an unforgettable experience.

So, if you’re looking for an adventure-filled job that combines work and travel, consider a career on a cruise ship and you’ll make memories that last a lifetime.

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