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Guide to Working on a Cruise Ship

Over the past years, the industry of cruise ships has really taken off and there probably isn’t a better time than this to apply for a job. The sheer amount of job positions and openings is impressive and if you have the patience to pursue this endeavour, you will surely find yourself landing your dream job.

If you’ve decided that  you’d like to work on a cruise ship, the first thing you’ll have to think about is the position you’d like to apply for. If you already have experience in sailing or have attended a Navy school, you should definitely try out for some of the higher and better paid positions, such as deckhand, Capitan, or engineer.

There are numerous options for those with no education in sailing, as well. For example, you could try out for a steward, bartender, or waiter position. Experience is preferred for these jobs as well, but it is not mandatory. Other employment options include tour managers, entertainment hosts and performers, nurses, and medical practitioners. Whatever you choose to apply for, make sure you have a complete resume and don’t forget to include a cover letter. Salaries differ quite a lot from one job position to another, but they are typically better paid than the same type of jobs on land.

Cruise ship employment is typically found through crewing  or recruitment agencies. If your resume is accepted, you will be required to pass an interview, and undergo a thorough medical examination, complete with  blood tests and an X-ray, before you are allowed to embark on the ship.  Visa requirements will vary according to the route of your cruise ship, but you’ll be informed about this aspect early on so that you’ll have the time to make all the necessary arrangements.

Contract lengths on a cruise ship can vary, but they typically last from four up to eight months. For the months between contracts, even if you remain under the employment of the cruising company, you will not receive payment. During the contract, you will be required to work seven days a week, several hours per day. The schedule is quite flexible and you might find yourself working more than 10 hours one day and only 5 the next, for example. Even if you might end up working quite a few hours every week, you will be given free time as well, so you can visit your surroundings every time the ship docks in a port.

Anytime you’re not during your work hours, you can take advantage of the employee facilities on the ship, which may include bars, night clubs, restaurant, or gyms. You are also permitted, and sometimes even encouraged, to mingle with the guests during your free time. Throughout the duration of your contract, the company that has hired you will also take care of your health insurance so, in case something happened to you while on the ship, all of your medical expenses would be covered.

Before you take off

Please contact us if you believe information on this page is incorrect, misleading or offensive, or if something important is missing.

The International Wanderer aims to provide you with up to date and accurate information. However, content is submitted by writers/wanderers from all over the globe. Sometimes we will get it wrong. Furthermore, working holiday and other visa opportunities and requirements (or numbers allocated) may change. New working holiday agreements are constantly being negotiated between countries. We suggest that you contact the nearest consulate or embassy of the country you wish to visit to ensure you have the most recent and accurate information. For further information about this website see our Terms & Conditions.