Working On a Cruise Ship: The Facts

Applying for and working on a cruise ship isn’t as pie-in-the-sky as you might expect, and with hundreds of people working above and below deck to ensure passengers have a fantastic experience, there might be a role that can put your talents, skills and experience to good use. So if you like the idea of waking up one morning in one port or harbour and the next in another, then read on…

Why work on a cruise ship?

Working on a a cruise ship gives you the opportunity to work with and for people of every age and nationality. The combination of socialising, working – heck, just living on the open seas attracts people from many nations and cultures wanting to give and experience more. Old sea dogs, university graduates, career changers, those supporting a family back home, the sheer number of people working on a cruise ship means that the environment on the high seas is a glorious combination of language, culture and experience.

What sort of jobs are available?

With last-minute cruises causing a surge in cruise bookings in recent years, this type of holiday has never been more popular and with this comes a significant employment opportunities. Almost every kind of job imaginable is needed on a cruise ship: from staffing the retail outlets to maintenance crew to working the kitchens, they are similar to hotels in the range of positions available. However, many positions have a different level of intensity.

Working as a tour manager onboard a cruise ship, for example, means that you are responsible for organising the land excursions for passengers when they disembark at every port of call. From ensuring passenger safety, to counting them all back on board again, your responsibility is to make sure their trip is enjoyable every step of the way, and often means little time to yourself.

working on a cruise ship

What are the realities of working on cruise ships?

It is important to maintain a cool head and deal with many situations as they arise, often communicating in a language that isn’t your first. It is also vital that you can plan ahead, be organized and keep on top of lots of paperwork, too.

You must be able to juggle the demands and requirements of a range of different passengers – to know how to manage conflict, illness, possible rowdy behaviour, even disappointed passengers if they don’t feel that their tour, refreshments or cabin are up to scratch.

The hours can be long, with many workers expected to work 7 day weeks, with longer breaks of 2 – 4 months between voyages. You might also want to factor in sea-sickness; if you’re going to be riding the waves for months at a time, make sure you are physically suited to the lifestyle.

So, once you’ve decided that you are up for the challenge, what’s next? Well, there are various cruise lines to research for vacancies, but most people start with the main contenders such as Norwegian, Carnival and Royal Caribbean. Do consider your experience as well: you may stand a better chance of getting work on a family-oriented cruise if you have worked with youth groups or children’s clubs, for example.

However you begin your voyage towards cruise employment, it’s a great opportunity to save money as you travel, and become an ex-pat in countries all over the world!

Images by Dennis Jarvis and James Williams, used under Creative Comms license

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An American who likes to move around.
I now live on the eastern Canadian seaboard. My job? A stay-at-home dad for two cute but demanding bosses. My wife? Also cute; not so demanding.
My wife and I both love travel. We met in South Korea, travelled across Australia, India, Europe and beyond. We lived in Czech Republic for four years. Many stories to tell and experience to share. If you let me, I will help you travel as we do.