Of all the types of employment most people dream about, those in the travel industry top the list. One kind of career is especially appealing to those who want room and board and the chance to see the world. Cruise ship jobs aren’t easy, but they pay decent and have nice perks. Here’s what you need to know to find, apply for, and enjoy your cruise employment.
How to Find Cruise Ship Jobs
The best way to find out what cruise ship jobs are available for your niche is to check the website for each major cruise line and see the open jobs. The following cruise lines are hiring for 4 to 9-month projects:
- Disney Cruise Lines
- Princess Cruise Lines
- Norwegian, Oceana, and Regent Cruise Lines
- Carnival Cruise Lines
- Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines
Some other sites and job boards may list jobs, as well, but the individual sites for each line will give you the best information to decide if a job is right for you. In addition, many cruise liners require you to register in their system first before applying. One profile with a line will give you the ability to apply for several jobs as once with little hassle.
What Cruise Ship Jobs Pay
In general, you can expect to get about the same for a cruise ship job as you would for the same job at home. While there may be additional bonuses for longer cruises or for specialized skills, they remain competitive with land jobs. Your wages may be paid as a monthly stipend, however, similar to a salaried employee for traditional jobs. Wages range from $800 a month to $8,000 a month, depending on experience and skill level. Freelancers, usually hired to do entertainment, can work for their own wage range, depending on the agency hiring them.
In addition to salary, tips are a big part of the total compensation package for cruise ship workers. Gratuities can be tacked on as a fee for services, or can be paid to individual workers throughout the course of the cruise. Most gratuities are split between all workers. Total gratuities received per worker can exceed the salary for the cruise!
Cruise Ship Job Perks and Benefits
In addition to seeing the world aboard a cruise ship, there are some very special benefits to working a cruise line. Some of the most popular reasons people take cruise jobs include the following free benefits:
- On-board medical care and treatment
- Room accommodations (usually shared with another employee)
- Meals and drinks
- Use of employee gym, pool, or other recreational services
- Laundry and housekeeping services
- Transportation to and from port from airport; roundtrip airfare from home
- Baggage fees and travel visa costs
In addition, most cruise ship employees get discounts on services and products purchased on-board during their assignment. While workers put in a lot of hours on board, they also enjoy hours off to see the locations the ship stops at.
Ship-sponsored BBQ’s, parties, and events for staff only are common. One of the most talked-about reasons to work a cruise ship is that you get ample time off between voyages, something that is appealing to those who want to vacation for a long time mid-year of take time off for a baby or other special event.
Types of Cruise Ship Jobs
Cruise ship employees do any tasks that need to be done in the course of a cruise. You can separate most jobs into two categories: those required to run the ship and those needed to entertain and serve guests. Ship-related jobs are usually more technical, and may require additional training or certification.
What kinds of employment can you find on a cruise ship? While the offerings vary per cruise line, here are the most common job descriptions:
Boutique and Department Store Staff
All of the retail locations you see on board must be staffed. These jobs can require a minimum of 2-years in retail, specifically to luxury brands. While these are considered entry-level jobs, expect to be required to show your selling experience.
Cruise Director Staff
A cruise director’s job is to oversee everything on board and ensure that the guests are happy. This isn’t a one-person job! Assistant Cruise Director and Junior Assistant Cruise Director jobs are plentiful on most cruises. Be expected to do everything from ice sculpting to singing and dancing. Your job is to do anything that will make the experience memorable!
Check your favorite cruise line itinerary, and you will see cruise ship jobs in the performing arts are plentiful! From the live shows that are performed each night to the musicians that keep dinner lively, professionals in the arts are needed to create the atmosphere people pay for. Cruise ships need behind-the-scenes workers in lighting, sound, set, and choreography, too!
Food and Beverage Service Staff
Everyone knows that the most popular thing to do on a cruise is eat and drink! Good thing cruise ship jobs consist of a large number of service professionals to provide an amazing dining experience. From the bartenders to waiters to cooks and bussers, there are dozens of cruise ship jobs to fill each voyage for just this purpose. If you have a formal education or 5 or more years’ experience in the food hospitality industry, you can apply for management or chef jobs that pay the best.
Just like in a hotel, there is a heavy load for housekeeping staff to carry aboard a cruise liner. All of the guests need their rooms cleaned and laundry done. The massive main areas of the ship need tidied daily. None of the premier experiences of a cruise could happen without the hard work of housekeeping.
Many cruise ships offer daycare and children’s services. Cruise ships need happy and responsible staff to fill these positions. Ships value additional experience in childhood education or missions.
Other Staff Positions
Depending on what the cruise offers, there is still another group of jobs to be filled. These usually include DJ for the nightclub, staff to run the games at the casinos, stewards for the fine art galleries, and lifeguards for the pool areas. Other cruise ship jobs will include the massage professionals at the spa, hair and makeup technicians at the salon, and fitness experts for the gym. Hundreds of jobs are available for the qualified applicant!
If entertainment jobs aren’t your thing, there are plenty of opportunities to help the ship run efficiently. These careers are most like the ones you would be doing on land, but you get the benefit of having your evenings off in exotic locations! Some common cruise ship jobs that closely resemble life on land include:
- IT professionals and computer technicians
- Photographer and videographer
- Human Resource manager
- Environmental Officer
- Security Officer
- Nurse and paramedic
Is working a cruise ship job for you?
The best way to find out is to talk to someone who has worked one or see the websites for each cruise line for the most up-to-date details on jobs and benefits available.
While your experience on a cruise ship will depend on the job area you work and the cruise ship you work for, many professionals have advised that you meter your expectations. Cruise ships jobs are hard work, and not for anyone who isn’t up to putting in long days and nights. The benefits are unique, however, and many have made lasting friendships and memories that can’t be had from any other type of job!