Cruiseship Job Hunting Guide

Finding a Job in the Cruise Industry

There is just so many things to consider before undertaking a job in the cruise industry. You have to be committed to being at sea for months on end, among many other requirements. Careful consideration is a must before signing a contract with a cruise line company. (Preparing an Application Package)


Many people think that they would like to work in the cruise industry. There are certainly a variety of jobs on a cruise ship. After all, a ship is just like a small floating city, so there is employment to match almost all skills or competencies. Although employment on a cruise ship does allow you to travel to many different countries and to meet people of all nationalities, there are factors that you must consider before sending in your application or accepting that job. This article discusses both the pros and cons of working onboard a ship, and some of the types of jobs available. It also provides some tips on how to prepare a successful resume, application, or curriculum vitae.


“Negative” Factors of Cruise Ship Employment


Do you get sea sick? Are you claustrophobic or feel badly in small, confined spaces? If you answered yes to either of these questions, then a cruise line job is probably not for you. You’ll be at sea in all types of weather conditions, and if you are prone to motion sickness, working might end up being the last thing on your mind! As a cruise ship employee, your small cabin will be on one of the lower levels, and you probably won’t have a port hole or window. Unless you are an officer, you will be sharing the cabin with one or more roommates. Some might describe the space as “cozy”, but others might consider it extremely confining. You will also be sharing a toilet and shower with other workers.


You can forget the 40-hour week at sea. Most cruise ship employees are required to sign a contract for four to six months, and are expected to work seven days a week. You won’t find any jobs on a ship that you can do during school or university holidays. All days off come at the end of the contract. You are normally expected to pay your way to meet the ship at the time of employment, but many ships will give you an airline ticket back home at the end of your contract (if you have fulfilled all the requirements of the contract). In addition, if your work has been satisfactory, you will be offered another contract (along with a plane ticket) back to the ship after being at home for six to eight weeks. If you quit your job before the contract is up or if you are fired, you will have to pay your own way back home.


Employees are usually paid in U.S. dollars while working, but do not receive any pay between contracts. The work schedule is flexible, and often demanding. Good health is definitely a requirement, and you will be required to pass a medical physical examination as a condition of employment.


“Positive” Factors of Cruise Line Employment


If you weren’t scared off from the discussion above, you must believe that the many positives of working on a cruise ship outweigh the negatives. Working on a cruise ship does give you the opportunity to travel the world and to meet many interesting people. You will usually be working with a team of people who are anxious to help you learn to do your job well. You will have the opportunity to develop collegial friendships with your co-workers that can last a lifetime. Although you are working every day, there are some opportunities to go ashore and see the sites. There is even time to sit on the sand and soak up the sun and the sea breeze if you choose.


The pay varies among different cruise lines, but may not seem like much given the long hours you are expected to work. However, you get free room and food, and don’t have to pay any utility bills! In addition, since you are working so much, you don’t have much opportunity to spend your salary, so many employees are able to save money while working on a ship.


Cruise lines try to have a comfortable work environment for their employees. The ship usually provides activities for the crew and a bar or gathering place to meet your crew mates on your free time. After all, if the employees are happy they are more likely to work harder to make the passengers happy!


It is important when seeking a job in the cruise industry (or any other industry) to do lots of research. The Internet is a wonderful tool with lots of information available for the job hunter. You need to learn how to apply, what jobs are available, and what skills are needed for the jobs.


When doing your research, determine which job appeals to you. Don’t just send in an application for “any position available.” The cruise line will think that you are only looking for fun and not take your application seriously. Try to match your skills and interests to a specific job on a ship.


Some jobs are often only available to those who have worked on cruise ships previously. For example, bar tender, purser, and tour staff are very popular jobs on board. Cruise ships like to reward employees who have demonstrated the skills needed to work with demanding passengers by filling these jobs from within the current list of outstanding crew members. Therefore, just because you worked as a bar tender or a waiter ashore does not necessarily mean you will be able to easily secure one of these jobs on board. You may have to start out as a room steward (or stewardess) and work up to waiter, bar tender or office staff.


Jobs in the engine room or on deck are also sometimes difficult to obtain unless you are of the same nationality as the ship’s officers. When doing your research, determine what the nationality of the ship’s crew is. If your background doesn’t match, it will be difficult to get a job in the engine room or on deck. Most ship’s officers are Norwegian, Greek, or Italian, with a handful of British and American ships. In addition, many of the technical crew jobs in the engine room or on deck are staffed with Filipinos.


Write a resume (curriculum vitae). See our instructions about how to write a good resume/CV. Send your resume with a cover letter to a recruitment agent or a cruise line company. Highlight the most important points in the covering letter, briefly stating what makes you a great candidate for the position.


Do your research and try to find out as much information about the cruise lines as possible. Search the Internet and have a look in the library. Perhaps you will be asked about the cruise company at the interview.


Since most cruises ships cater to Americans and other English-speaking travelers, it is important that you speak English. All cruise ship workers need a valid passport and probably a work visa. If you are from a Western European country, you will need a C1/D1 Visa from the United States Embassy. This visa is for seamen and allows you to work in United States’ ports for a limited number of hours/days. If you are from Asia or elsewhere, you need to check with the cruise line or agency to see what the specific visa requirements are for your country of origin.


In summary, finding a job on a cruise ship requires lots of research, time, and the right qualifications. It also requires the applicant to properly complete the necessary paperwork and to have the correct work visas and passport. Cruise ship jobs are difficult and require lots of long hours. However, you do get PAID to see the world and get the opportunity to develop collegial work relationships that might last a lifetime!


Cruise ship jobs require you to be away from your family, friends, and your entire comfort zone. Nevertheless, it may very well be the adventure of your life, and you may find this experience truly rewarding!


Related: Required Certification and Training Programs


Cruise Ship Jobs