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How do You Get a Job on a Cruise Ship?

Insider Tips Before Applying to Work on a Cruise Ship  

The beauty of working on cruise ships is that there is a constant turnover of crew members. There are many companies building ships every day. The largest cruise ship today, 2023, is the Wonder of the Seas, which can accommodate up to 6,988 passengers and 2,300 crew members. Cruise ships hire year-round, and there is always a demand for workers, especially since new ships are being launched every year.

Where to Start Looking for a Job on a Cruise Ship?

The first thing you need to decide before you start looking for a job on a cruise ship is to figure out what kind of position you’re working right now or what kind of skills you have that can be translated to a job at sea. A cruise ship is like a floating hotel at sea, so any position that you can find in a hotel on land you can find it on a cruise ship. Pretty much almost any job on land can be translated to a job at sea. Work as a nurse in a hospital? There’s a cruise ship infirmary. Are you currently working as a receptionist? guess what, cruise ships have a reception too. what if I’m a carpenter or even a gardener, can I still work on a cruise ship? You sure can mate!

Shorex Staff Private Island
Working on NCL’s Private Island – Great Stirrup Cay, Bahamas.

Cruise ships are like floating cities, requiring a diverse range of job positions to operate smoothly and provide a memorable experience for passengers.I can almost guarantee that whatever you are doing right now can be somehow translated into a job at sea. 

Here are some job positions on a cruise ship that might fit right in with one of your skills:

1. Captain and Bridge Officers: The captain is responsible for the overall operation of the ship, navigation, and safety. Nautical crew includes officers, navigators, and deckhands who handle ship operations, navigation, and maintenance.

2. Hotel Management and Guest Services: This category includes positions like Hotel Managers, Front Desk Staff, Guest Services, and Concierge. They manage passenger accommodations, handle inquiries, and ensure a comfortable stay.

3. Entertainment and Activities: Cruise ships offer various entertainment options, including performers, DJs, musicians, dancers, and activity coordinators who organize games, shows, and events to keep passengers engaged.

4. Culinary Staff: This includes chefs, cooks, and kitchen staff responsible for preparing meals for passengers and crew. The positions range from executive chefs to sous chefs, pastry chefs, and various kitchen assistants.

5. Housekeeping and Steward Staff: Housekeeping staff maintain the cleanliness and comfort of passenger cabins and public areas. Stewards cater to passengers’ needs and ensure their cabins are well-stocked and tidy.

6. Medical and Healthcare Staff: Medical professionals, such as doctors and nurses, provide medical care to passengers and crew in the ship’s infirmary.

7. Technical,IT and Engineering Crew: Engineers, electricians, mechanics, and technicians ensure that the ship’s systems, engines, and equipment function properly. They are crucial for the ship’s safety and operation.

8. Restaurant and Bar Staff: Waitstaff, bartenders, and sommeliers work in the ship’s restaurants, bars, and lounges, serving food and beverages to passengers.

9. Retail and Sales: Onboard shops and boutiques have retail staff who assist passengers with shopping for clothing, jewelry, cosmetics, and other items.

10. Spa and Wellness: Positions include spa therapists, fitness instructors, and wellness experts who provide relaxation and fitness services to passengers.

11. Photographers and Videographers: These staff members capture passengers’ moments during their trip, offering professional photos and videos for purchase.

12. Security and Safety Personnel: Security officers and personnel ensure the safety of passengers and crew, enforce regulations and respond to emergencies.

13. Children’s Programs: These staff members organize and supervise activities for younger passengers in kids’ clubs and play areas.

14. Administrative and Office Staff: This includes positions in the ship’s administration, accounting, human resources, and other administrative functions.

These are just a few examples of the many job positions on a cruise ship. Each role contributes to the smooth operation and enjoyable experience for passengers during their voyage.

See the articles below for more specific info on certain positions

Cruise Ship Jobs Youth Counselor
Shore Excursions Job Cruise Ship
Cruise Ship Job Receptionist
Cruise Ship Job Waiter and Assistant Waiter
Cruise Staff at work theme night
Cruise Ship Jobs Bartender

The Possibilities are Endless.

Cruise Ship Jobs - How to get Job Cruise Ship

You can work in the stores onboard selling a variety of ship merchandise as well as jewelry, watches, and liquor. There’s also the job at the Shore Excursion department selling land excursions to the most fascinating ports of call; You can also work at the reception desk where guests come for everything and anything, seeking information on what to do and to seek assistance with their issues. Have you worked in a restaurant before as a waiter?  Hey, they need lots of waiters onboard. If you have worked in a summer camp or have experience working with kids, like at a preschool or as an au pair, you could apply to work as a youth counselor, one of the first jobs I held when I first started working on a cruise ship.

What I recommend is for you to look into a job section and see the job descriptions and the requirements for each position. Keeping mind that each company will have different requirements for the same position but for the most part, they’re consistent across the board. The more skills and requirements a job has, the fewer jobs available you will find.

What Cruise Lines Look for in a Candidate?

How to get Job Cruise Ship

Cruise Lines are looking for more than just experience. They are looking for your ability to be able to work every day without a single day off. Being able to stay away from family and friends for contracts that last between 4 to 10 months, sharing a cabin with another crew member, most likely from a different country and culture, and having limited access to phone and internet are just some of the things you give up for a life at sea. You do get awesome perks in return but it’s up to you to balance the pros and cons.

Cruise Ship Jobs - Visiting the Sphynx in Egypt
Pyramids, Egypt

Cruise Ship Interview Tips

During the interview, they will focus on questions about how you can handle being away from family and friends, living in small cabins with one, two, or even three other crew members while committing to work up to 70 hours a week without a day off for the entire duration of your contract, which again can vary between 4-10 months. Cruise lines spend a great amount of money and time to hire crew members and they want to make sure you will adapt to this environment and hopefully work more contracts. In the end, no one can force you to stay but you should think twice before quitting your job on land, selling all your belongings for a life at sea. Make sure you are prepared for what lies ahead.

Crew Cabin Cruise Ship
My Cabin. Typical Cruise Ship Cabin for Two.

It’s All About the Customer

Cruise Ship Job

The majority of the jobs on board the ship will be customer-facing so you will have to be great at customer service or great at faking it.  Be able to smile even when you don’t feel like smiling, listening to guests complaining about how they did things differently on other cruise lines, or how they are not the type that complains but chooses you to be their first victim. If talking to humans is not your forte, I would think twice about jumping on a career at sea.

We Are All On The Same Boat!

Cruise Ship Job
Docked in Monaco with the YC gang!

While working on a cruise ship, you will have to keep in mind that you work where you live and you live where you work. There are no weekends, no lazy Sundays, no movies on Fridays, and no family lunch on Sundays, among many other great things that you can do at home. You will be surprised at how many small things you will miss while working onboard. Might not seem like a big deal to you but being able to cook your own food, not having to keep constantly looking on your watch when you are off the ship, going to family events, not having a curfew, or being in one fixed place; these are some of the things I missed when I was onboard.

What to Pack Cruise Ship

Cruise ship life is very exciting and visiting awesome locations around the world is just one of the many benefits of working on a cruise ship. If this is your first time going to work on a cruise ship, you might be wondering what you need to pack for a cruise ship contract. This post might just be what you are looking for.

Be Sociable, Flexible and Have Fun!

Friends in Corfu, Greece
USA, Brazil, Mexico, Colombia, Philippines, Ukraine, and Romania represented. Ship friends enjoying lunch in Corfu, Greece!

If you are not a social person, you will have to learn to become one. I say this because you will be living in a bubble kind of environment. You won’t be able to escape work as you do on land. You will spend a great deal of time around your boss and coworkers. It’s very important to get along since you can’t escape your workplace since your workplace is also the place you live, the place where you are committed for months. There will be times when you just want to go to a quiet place and talk to no one and you will be able to find it, it’s just not gonna be as easy on a ship surrounded by people in tight quarters.

The outside world will feel far and distant and you will rely on friends to make your life onboard easier. The friendships you will make can last a lifetime, and I have made great friends onboard that I still have contact with. You will spend the majority of your time working alongside your coworkers and you will gladly spend time with the same people outside work at the beach or the crew bar. We become a small family onboard and you will be surprised at how quickly you can make great friends.

Final Words

Don’t be scared. It seems like a huge commitment to decide to work on a cruise ship but trust me, working onboard was by far the best job I had. Traveling all over the world, making great friendships all the while saving money. Working on a cruise ship is more than just a job, it’s a lifestyle. So go on and enjoy the ride.

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

Mark Twain