Cruiseship Job Hunting Guide

Living and Working on a Cruise Ship

Living and working on a cruise ship may be a dream job for some, but it is also essential to know that life on the sea can be stormy too. You might want to give up the impression that it is a job that pays you while you’re on vacation, because working on a cruise ship involves so many responsibilities and it is actually highly demanding, far from the image you may have of soaking up the sun and getting paid for it.


Those who choose to work on ships know for sure that the life and job on the ship will vary quite a bit from the life they would have on land. And this is true to a very large extent. The ship will follow the maritime international law and fleet regulations which are almost military in nature. This is required since discipline and total conformity to commands are of paramount importance for the safety of the ship and passengers. There are stringent safety laws which demand regular and constant emergency drills.


You will find that while you are at sea, the Captain has utmost authority on the ship and its crew. He/she can detain or remove any crew member, if he/she feels that this is necessary for the safety and well being of the ship. The ship navigating crew are usually highly qualified and extremely serous about their jobs.


This is why the luxury cruisers are some of the best sailed ships in the world; and even in the worst of storms or mishaps the passengers will suffer the least of inconvenience, if it is humanly possible to avert it.


When you decide to take up a job at sea, you should first decide whether you love the sea in all its awesomeness. This is not a place for those who only tolerate the sea. You should be able to become part of it, part of the ship that sails it. If you cannot, then avoid a job at sea, as it is not for you. There is a team work feeling when the ship runs into a storm or swells that can never be experienced on land. The camaraderie and the togetherness you develop on the ship is totally a unique experience. Someone put it very aptly when they described their work on the ship, This is less of a job and more a way of life!


Cruise Ship working (Finding a Job in the Cruise Industry)


Your life on the ship - People usually hear of the expression, taking your work to your home, but on the ship you actually take your home to work. Your work place is also your home for the contract time and hence, you will have to fulfill all your on and off the job requirements right there on the ship.


Your sleeping quarters, or home, will most often consist of a small cabin which will be shared by one or two colleagues. Some liners do provide their cruise staff with single cabins, but these are usually reserved for senior staff members.


You will find that the accommodation is segregated by departments, which makes it easier for people to share responsibilities and fee time. Most of the time you will find the cruise staff set up on a separate floor, while the maintenance and kitchen staff on another. Often there is further break-up based on nationality of the staff. You will find that the higher you are in rank the better the accommodation you get; the higher the floor, the better. The accommodation found on the floors below the water line is not too comfortable, and these are reserved for the unskilled and maintenance staff.


Your food is more often than not offered in special mess halls meant for cruise staff and ship crew. Sometimes, the mess halls are divided by nationality and sometimes by rank. There are ships which allow their cruise staff to eat along with the passengers, while some ships strictly forbid cruise staff and crew to socialize with their passengers. Whichever way it is, the food is most of the times good to tolerable and there are always weekly passes for treats. You get everything you eat for free, other than alcoholic beverages, which are actually rather expensive.


For entertainment the cruise staff will have access to the gym and swimming pools and indoor game play rooms. It is very rare that anything is barred from the crew on matter of entertainment. They get access to free shows, movies and other entertainment that is available for the passengers. The point is that there is very little time to enjoy it. With all its glamour and all, life on the ship is very busy and you will find that you would like to spend most of your free time sleeping and taking rest.


Some ships will provide closed-circuit TV in the rooms and new movies screened daily. There are also specially built recreation lounges for staff, which can cater to all tastes. However, as mentioned above, few have the time to really indulge in recreation activities during their contract. When in port, and most of the cruise staff find themselves free, they prefer to go on land rather than stay aboard the ship. Hence, though entertainment facilities are there, they are hardly used by the crew and cruise staff.


The opportunity to travel to warm climates and spend time in resort locations is a common draw for those who seek employment with cruise lines. It is important to keep in mind, however, that not all cruise ships travel to tropical climates on a regular basis. Destinations to colder climates such as Alaska are also popular.


The cost to live and work on board a cruise ship is minimal if a crew member is vigilant of how much spending he or she is doing. For example, expenses such as rent, utilities and groceries are cut from the personal budget.


The ability to list a cruise ship job on a resume gives applicants a “leg up” over other applicants for further employment opportunities. In particular, this writer has found that after attending several job interviews in the food and beverage industry, cruise ship jobs are usually viewed as highly professional and well-respected, providing the best training in the industry when it comes to customer service, food and wine training.


The downside of living on the ship


You have seen the plus points. Now let us look at the minus points as well. A ship contract is anything between three to ten months. During this time you will be expected to be the face of the company, hence you should always be polite, cheerful and full of enthusiasm not only to your passengers but also to colleagues. The moment you step out of your quarter you are on duty. This can be sometimes quite a put off, more so if you are dog tired or not well.


Being on duty all the time, having to smile all the time, having to be courteous and polite all the time can be pretty painful at times. Though most of the time it is enjoyable. This is why the ship job is meant only for those who are peoples’ people. If you do not like people and you are not an extrovert, then the ship life will simply kill you.


All staff are required to wear their uniforms and name tags at all times when they are out of their cabins. When they have time off, they can be without their uniforms, but the places left for them to frequent are very limited. Hence, working on the ship means being on duty almost round the clock. You need to be tough to live this way for 3-10 months and like it.


Most cruise lines require staff to sign on for a specific period of time. The typical contract length is approximately six months. This means that crew members will be away from their home, friends and family members for the duration of the contract. It is usually possible for crew members to contact their loved ones via e-mail and telephone with the use of long distance calling cards throughout the contract.


Depending on the department in which cruise ship employees are assigned, wages will vary. Room and board are factored into compensation. At times crew members are expected to spend time working “off the clock”, and are expected to be available for work at all times he or she is physically on board the ship.


Other than this, the life on the ship is not really taxing. You have everything provided for you - your meals, your laundry, your entertainment. In return, you are totally theirs. Many will say, fair enough!


Many it is a dream job after all!


Related: 11 Essential Qualities for An Cruiseship Employee


Cruiseship Jobs