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Employment on Cruise Ships
How to get a great job with a cruise liner

If you've ever thought of getting paid to travel, employment on cruise ships is one of the best - and easiest - ways you can make this happen.

Imagine sailing into a different port each day, sightseeing, tax-free shopping, banking your entire salary, meeting exciting people from all over the world, having several months off a year, using passenger facilities on board for free...

Sound too good to be true? Not at all.

According to Earl Baron and Liz Aceves, authors of the Crash Course on Getting a Job with a Cruise Ship, "Life on board a cruise ship is demanding and sometimes frustrating, but we’re certain that once you get a little taste of the travel, of the friendships and networking, of the opportunity to save a boatload of money in a short period of time, you’ll understand why we recommend such employment to as many people as possible."

Do you fit the profile for employment on cruise ships?

There's a specific profile for cruise ship staff, and before you apply you should make sure you fit it. A cousin of mine worked as a croupier on a ship for years and only gave up her shipboard lifestyle when she started a family, so being solo can be helpful (although cruise lines do hire couples).

cruise ship croupier jobWork as a croupier on a cruise ship
Nigel Wilson via Flickr CC

So yes, this is great for the single woman with no family ties. After all, four months at sea, even with good pay, is no fun when your family or partner is waiting back home.

Getting a cruise ship job has plenty of benefits. One of the main benefits is the travel - you'll get to see the world as you work! The hours are long, but when you're off duty you get to use the spas and pools and gyms and go ashore...

And then there's the salary - not bad by any stretch. Compare what you'd earn on a ship (and what you'd spend) with the same on land and you might be in for a surprise. Add to that room and board, medical coverage, on-board discounts and a round-trip plane ticket and it's difficult to beat that kind of savings power.

You can be from virtually anywhere - you'll meet women and men from around the world. A large cruise ship can easily have staff from more than 80 countries!

That's all the good stuff - but there are downsides to employment on cruise ships too.

Conditions are cramped and you'll usually be sharing a room, sometimes with several people.

The Queen VictoriaA floating city: cruise ships can be huge
Foraggio Fotographic via Flickr CC

There's also stiff discipline on a ship - not quite like being in the military but there is a clear hierarchy and rules (and uniforms!) And cruise ships are vacation ships - possibly the best vacation in someone's life - so you have to be bright and cheerful 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, even if you feel like a lawnmower just crawled across your back.

Employment on cruise ships may mean you won't get a full day off while you're at sea. You may work in the morning, or in the evening, or both. The passenger is king (or queen) and you will have to do their bidding.

cruiseBad weather can happen
Rob Inh00d via Flickr CC

Finding employment on cruise ships is competitive so you'll need all the help you can get. While there are plenty of jobs out there, there are also plenty of potential cruise employees waiting to fill them. A ship is like a city except that it floats - if you don't qualify for the job on land, you won't qualify for it on the water.

The Crash Course is a great step-by-step guide to finding the perfect cruise line job. It'll explain how the different cruise lines hire, what qualifications you'll need, how much you'll make in each type of job, how to fix up your CV and cover letter, dealing with paperwork, and how to give human resources people exactly what they're looking for.

What cruise ship jobs can you hope to find?

Employment on cruise ships can be in almost any area - here are just a few typical examples of cruiseship jobs available on a large liner:

  • Cruise Director
  • Fitness Instructor
  • Hair and Nail Technician
  • Store Manager
  • Engineer
  • Golf Instructor
  • Jewelry Store Manager
  • Safety Officer
  • Shore Excursion Staff
  • Reception Manager
  • International Purser
  • Housekeeping Staff
  • Food and Beverage Manager
  • Maitre D'
  • Sous Chef
  • Massage Therapist
  • Entertainer
  • Casino Croupier
  • ...and everything in-between.
dive shop
Whatever your job, you'll visit exotic locations
LinksmanJD via Flickr CC

If you're just starting out...

Not much experience?

No problem!

Many cruise lines prefer to hire entry level staff and then promote them from within. So if you want the larger paychecks, you'll have to stick around longer.

And employment on cruise ships pays well!

You could make up to $2500 a month working in a shipboard gift shop, $800 as a cabin steward or a monthly salary of $1300 in the laundry or $2000 as a cabin stewardess, or up to $10,000 a month for some of the more specialized jobs. Remember, your salary can go straight to the bank because everything else will be paid for.

A word of caution

A lot of people are looking for employment on cruise ships, and there are some unscrupulous operators out there who will take advantage of this. So beware of the following:

  • Agencies that guarantee you'll get a job: unless they hire you themselves, there is no guarantee
  • Agencies that require you to pay large sums of money so they can work on your behalf
  • Paying to post your CV on a site - cruise lines have far better things to do than trawl the web looking for potential candidates when they have so many to choose from already
  • Being asked to provide money 'up front' for uniforms, trips and so on - if you're hired, these things will be provided by the cruise line

So stay clear of the scams - and hop aboard the Love Boat!

Still want to go to sea?

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