Cruiseship Job Hunting Guide

Onboard and Onshore Cruise Ship Job Positions

Onboard positions are abundant. If you want to get involved in the cruise ship industry but can’t get over your seasickness, then working onshore is your best resort. There’s no need to get onboard to enjoy the perks and fun. Onboard and onshore positions have equal fun and employment opportunity. Below are the departments with the most positions that are available and in demand:

The following are brief descriptions of some of the main positions onboard cruise ships that will give you a general idea of the qualifications and duties of each job. This will give you a general idea of the types of employment on cruise ships and at cruise line home and satellite offices.

Shipboard employees are typically divided into departments relating to service, passenger accommodations (sometimes called “hotel administration”), entertainment jobs, general ship maintenance, engine work, and safety. Different cruise lines use variations on these categories, but for our purposes we have divided onboard job descriptions into the areas of Activity/Entertainment, Deck & Engineering, Service/Hospitality, and Personal Care.

A fifth category is Office, which includes those jobs commonly available in corporate headquarters. If you want to work in an office environment and avoid a nomadic lifestyle and demanding tourists, this might be the right path for you. Going corporate is a way to get travel benefits and can be your key to a job onboard a vessel at a later time, if you ever choose so.

The majority of offices are either in Los Angeles or Florida. However, New York, Seattle, and various European cities also have their share. If you live in or near one of these cities, you are in luck. The types of work available are wide-ranging and include booking agents, administrative assistants, sales representatives, human resource representatives and marketing personnel. Plenty of other jobs exist as well.

Activity/Entertainment Department:

These positions are often synonymous with “cruise staff” and deal with anything relating to passenger entertainment. This department includes hosts and hostesses, cruise directors and staff, disc jockeys, performers, swimming instructors, and shore excursion staff. These positions are considered the most glamorous on the ship, and are probably the most sought-after jobs in the cruise industry.

Deck & Engineering Department:

This department is responsible for maintaining and running the vessel. On large ships, this department usually does not have many entry-level positions open to North Americans. People working in the deck department are usually experienced merchant marines and include deckhands, maintenance workers, engineers, and officers. It is their job to motor or sail the ship, attend to the physical maintenance needs of the ship, and keep it in accordance with fleet regulations and international maritime laws.

Service/Hospitality Department:

These positions fall under the “Hotel Management” department. These staff members have the responsibility of managing the restaurants, bars, and passenger cabins, as well as shipboard retail concessions like gift shops. Those who serve food or alcohol can make a handsome amount of money from tips. As the old saying goes, “The captain receives all the glory onboard but when the ship docks the captain leaves on a scooter and the waiter leaves in his Benz.” The purser (the ship’s treasurer in charge of passenger accounts, tickets, changing currency, etc.) and his or her staff are also included in this department.
Personal Care Department:

The personal care department can include fitness, beauty, spa and medical services. These positions are important to the passengers who signed up for the cruise to “pamper themselves silly.” More and more cruise ships are updating their spa and fitness facilities as the demand for these services increases. The medical department offers medical services to the passengers and crew.

Office Positions:
These are generally onshore positions in which employees work in the main office arranging cruises or performing general office work. These positions include administrative assistants, booking agents, sales/marketing staff, and clerical workers.

But if you think what is the point in getting a cruise ship job without being on the field, which in this case, being onboard sailing with tourists around the world and seeing the world, then you should prepare an application and start applying for the position that suits your abilities and goals.

Related: Finding a Job in the Cruise Industry


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