Cruise Ship Staff & Activity Positions

Cruise ship entertainer photoCruise staff positions are often entry-level social positions. This job is for the enthusiastic and extroverted only.

An assistant cruise director's job is to spend a lot of time with the passengers. This means mingling at cocktail parties (in the business this is called "swanning"), calling bingo numbers, playing games, getting passengers involved and enthusiastic about shipboard activities, assisting with tour dispatch, and doing general public relations work for the cruise line. Social dance training is preferred.

On some lines, cruise staff will be expected to sing or dance in shows, but this is not as common as it used to be. Competition for an assistant cruise director position is stiff, so a lot of follow-up work is usually needed. Timing and determination are everything. We talked to some assistant cruise directors who applied continually for years before getting hired and others who were hired in a few weeks.

Contracts generally last six months and pay is salary-based. The following are positions that are in the cruise staff department. The positions are followed by a brief job description, job requirements and compensation.

Please note that compensation varies throughout cruise lines and the amounts stated here are meant to act simply as a reference.

Also note, that in most cases all of your standard living expenses will be covered (room, food, health coverage, etc.), so most of the money you earn can be saved.

Art Auctioneer

Art galleries around the world make their art available for sale through various cruise lines. The Art Auctioneer makes these pieces available for bid and sale to passengers of ships.

More detailed job descriptions, job requirements and compensation figures are listed in our Members Section.

Assistant Cruise Director

This position supports the Cruise Director with managing and supervising the "cruise staff." Similar to the Cruise Director the Assistant Cruise Director is consistently visible to the passengers onboard. The Assistant Cruise Director assists with the routine passenger's activities and helps coordinate the evening's activities. This position dedicates a large amount of time to socialization with the guests and participation in shipboard activities. Occasionally the Assistant Cruise Director will be asked to host an evening show or event. This position assists the Social Host/Hostess with greeting the passengers as they come aboard and bid farewell as passengers disembark the ship. The Assistant Cruise Director assists the Cruise Director in all his/her responsibilities.

More detailed job descriptions, job requirements and compensation figures are listed in our Members Section.

Audio Visual Coordinator

The audio visual coordinator is the master of all sound and light on board the ship. This role oversees the presentation, maintainence and repair of all activities requiring audio equipment including sound for bands and performances, presentations and games. In addition to the audio responsibility this role is required to assist setting up microphones for activities, performances and lectures.The A/V Coordinator is required to be at all rehearsals and performances. Reports to the Cruise Director.

More detailed job descriptions, job requirements and compensation figures are listed in our Members Section.

Casino Staff

This is considered to be the ultimate job by crew members. The casino is usually closed while in port, which leaves plenty of free time for casino staff. Most cruise lines require three years' experience at a major casino in at least two games. Slot managers need three to five years' experience. Casino staff hours vary depending upon the ship, region, and clientele. For example, casinos on ships serving the Caribbean are usually busy and staff have to work long hours; conversely, casinos on European cruises often close earlier due to a more senior clientele. The various positions of the casino staff can include: Dealers, Casino Hosts, Cashiers, Casino Managers and Casino Technicians. When looking for a casino position don't forget to check out our concessionaires, some of the concessionaire companies specialize in casino placement.

More detailed job descriptions, job requirements and compensation figures are listed in our Members Section.

Cruise Consultant

The cruise consultant makes themselves available to the passengers at regular desk hours to provide information on future cruise trips. The consultant promotes and sells future cruises to passengers onboard. This position offers a lot of free time in port.

More detailed job descriptions, job requirements and compensation figures are listed in our Members Section.

Cruise Directors

The Cruise Director is in charge of all onboard entertainment. Most Cruise Directors have worked their way up from cruise staff positions and have had some kind of career in entertainment themselves. Each cruise line looks for different qualities in a cruise director. The best way to learn how to become a cruise director is to work for one as an assistant cruise director or staff member. Generally, the Cruise Director is an entertainer and usually performs a couple times a voyage. Originally, the cruise director was the lead entertainer but now this role is more administrative and acts as a supervisor to the rest of the "cruise staff" department. The cruise director is the most visible crew member to the passengers.

More detailed job descriptions, job requirements and compensation figures are listed in our Members Section.

Dance Instructor

Teach various forms of dance to passengers on ship as well as dance in ship's performances. Often times dance instructors apply as couples. The dance instructor couples teach together and use each other for dance demonstration.

More detailed job descriptions, job requirements and compensation figures are listed in our Members Section.

Disc Jockeys

Cruise lines like their disc jockeys to have a broad music base to span the generations of their clientele. Experience in a hospitality position will increase a disc jockey's marketability because of the necessity to socialize gracefully with passengers. Experience with lighting and sound is a big asset as well. Some disc jockeys work closely with the stage manager in assisting with show production. Contracts are generally six months.

More detailed job descriptions, job requirements and compensation figures are listed in our Members Section.

Dive Instructors/Lifeguards/Water Sports Instructors

Many cruise ships in the Caribbean have full water sport programs and SCUBA-diving certification courses available on the vessel. Instructors need a valid instructor's certification (PADI, NAUI, SSI) and a CPR certificate, and are also expected to generate enthusiasm for a water sport program. Some ships even provide windsurfing instructions and equipment. Since almost all ships have pools, people with lifeguard experience have a definite advantage. Cruise lines like to see applicants with creativity, confidence, and expertise. These are usually salaried positions with contracts anywhere from three months to six months.

More detailed job descriptions, job requirements and compensation figures are listed in our Members Section.

Entertainers

Cruise lines look for general public appeal when hiring for entertainment jobs. Entertainment directors receive up to twenty media packs (taped audition materials, plus photos, profiles, and background information) daily. Those with a highly professional act stand the best chance of landing a job. Comedians need good material for three thirty-minute sets. Vocalists need a proven routine with music sheets for the orchestra. There are many jobs for musicians on cruise ships, too. Cruise lines are willing to work with talent and will try to fit entertainers into their programming schedule. Generally, cruise lines use concessionaires to staff their entertainment staff, therefore it is a good idea to start with the concessionaires we profile in our Members Section if you are strictly looking for work in entertainment. Some cruise lines and concessionaire companies travel around the country auditioning talent, so it's a good idea to periodically check to see if talent scouts are going to be in your area. Entertainers should document their acts on CD or DVD and send it to entertainment directors or concessionaires as part of their media packs. Contracts vary. They could be as short as the duration of one cruise, or they could be for many months. Pay also varies, depending on the cruise line. In a few cases, entertainers do not receive a salary at all. Instead, they are given free passage in a deluxe stateroom in return for performing.

More detailed job descriptions, job requirements and compensation figures are listed in our Members Section.

Gentlemen Hosts

On many cruises, the female-to-male ratio can be quite high, especially for passengers in their senior years. Therefore, some ships feature male social hosts who are recruited to be dance and social partners for the passengers. Most hosts are retired single men who work for the chance to sail around the world for free, or sometimes for a small salary. Gentlemen hosts must know practically all types of dances, but ballroom, swing, waltz, fox trot, and other formal dances are preferred. Hosts must be able to dance for several hours almost every night.

More detailed job descriptions, job requirements and compensation figures are listed in our Members Section.

Social Hosts and Hostesses

As a member of the cruise staff, hosts and hostesses are constantly in the public eye and often serve as the mouthpiece for the ship. Duties can include greeting passengers as they board and disembark, assisting shore excursions staff, giving port talks, arranging parties and dinners, acting as master of ceremonies at selected events and introducing the Captain to passengers at the Captain's Ball. Occasionally the host/hostess will assist in the library. When applying for these positions, applicants should stress public relations experience or education in public relations. An outgoing personality is extremely important for this position as you are required to socialize with the passengers on a regular basis. Contracts are generally six months and pay is salary-based. This position reports to the Cruise Director or Assistant Cruise Director.

More detailed job descriptions, job requirements and compensation figures are listed in our Members Section.

Sound and Light Technician

This position provides the technical support for performance's sound effects and stage lighting. The sound and light technician maintains and repairs equipment.

More detailed job descriptions, job requirements and compensation figures are listed in our Members Section.

Lecturers

Lecturers are commonly used in the Caribbean for port shopping talks. Duties other than making presentations may vary from company to company. The job requires superior public speaking skills and sales training. Port lecturers often represent certain stores ashore and support passengers who shop at the recommended stores by guaranteeing the merchandise. Port lecturers must be, above all, enthusiastic and credible. The Port Lecturers will work closely with the shore excursion staff. A thorough knowledge of the Caribbean is also helpful. Contracts vary and pay is usually base plus commission.

More detailed job descriptions, job requirements and compensation figures are listed in our Members Section.

Naturalists

Companies hire naturalists to lecture on subjects pertinent to the region. Applicants with exceptional presentation skills and expertise on a region or topic should contact all the companies that cruise in that region. Naturalists are also considered part of the cruise staff, so enthusiastic, extroverted personalities are preferred. Naturalists can literally create a demand for themselves by showing cruise lines how their knowledge can enhance the passengers' appreciation for the itinerary. Contracts and salaries are negotiable.

More detailed job descriptions, job requirements and compensation figures are listed in our Members Section.

Photographer

The photographer is the "johnny on the spot" always around to take memorable photos of passengesr as they embark on the cruise as they depart to port, attend theme parties and formal events. The photographer catalogues the passenger's journey. In addition to snapping photos the photographer develops and sells the photographs to passengers. All photo equipment is usually provided by the cruise line.

More detailed job descriptions, job requirements and compensation figures are listed in our Members Section.

Port Lecturer/Lecturer

This type of position has become increasingly popular. Passengers like to learn information about the ports they will be visiting prior to arrival. The Port Lecturer presents lectures while the ship is at sea on various topics of the port's history, archeology, natural history, wildlife, marine biology, geology, culture and much more. The Lecturers also present lectures at sea but their areas of expertise may include all of the above as well as oceanography, wildlife biology, psychology, astronomy, nutrition, health, arts & crafts, history, finance, photography, business and much more!

More detailed job descriptions, job requirements and compensation figures are listed in our Members Section.

Shore Excursion Manager

Cruise companies offer and sell their passengers organized tours of the different areas they travel to. The Shore Excursion Manager is responsible for knowing how many tours are offered for each stop, promoting and selling shore excursion packages to their passengers. The Shore Excursion Manager also makes sure that the tours they have sold are conducted in a way that is true to the "sales package." This position requires overseeing the shore excursion staff, accounting and documenting of all tours or excursions that are sold. In addition to all of the above the Shore Excursion Manager is required to give presentations or informative talks onboard about the various excursions they offer prior to reaching port.

More detailed job descriptions, job requirements and compensation figures are listed in our Members Section.

Shore Excursion Staff/ Assistant Shore Excursion Manager

The responsibilities of shore excursion staff are to assist with shore excursions and land tours. The position is comparable to that of a Junior Assistant Purser and, on some cruise lines, the actual title is Junior Assistant Purser, Shore Excursions. Office and administrative skills are required, but no previous experience in tourism is necessary. The Shore Excursion staff sometimes are referred to as Assistant Shore Excursion Managers and are responsible for staffing the shore excursion desk that includes guest services and tour sales. They also must politely deal with complaints from passengers. Take a look at the various seasonal land tour opportunities connected with the cruise lines. Alaska is full of them (many of which are listed in our Tour Guide section of our Members Section). Many cruise staff and shore excursion personnel currently working in the industry got their start on land, then moved to the ships. Contracts vary and payment is salaried.

Seasonal land tours are a great way to "get in" with the company without interrupting an education schedule, particularly in Alaska, where ships generally only visit and use land-based tour guides during the summer months. A summer in Alaska can be a great experience. As one guide put it:

"It couldn't have been a more ideal summer job. I got to work with people from all over the country, live in Juneau, which is one of the most beautiful towns I've ever seen, and get paid for the experience! I even got to work as a customer service representative for a week on one of our Columbia River cruises, and next year I hope to get hired as a cruise coordinator on one of our ships."

More detailed job descriptions, job requirements and compensation figures are listed in our Members Section.

Production Managers

This is a highly skilled technical position. Production managers are responsible for all sound and light operations for the entertainers. Cruise lines prefer someone with experience running a mixing board for musical groups, as well as professional theater experience. The Production Manager will also be responsible for supervising the audio visual team. Basic repair and maintenance of stage equipment. This position reports to the Cruise Director. Most of the work is in the evenings, though sea days can be quite busy. Newer cruise ships have computerized mixing boards, and companies prefer someone familiar with state-of-the-art equipment. These are salaried positions, with negotiable contracts.

More detailed job descriptions, job requirements and compensation figures are listed in our Members Section.

Youth Counselors

This position is sometimes synonymous with child care and babysitting; on some ships workers are even called nannies. Because children can only accompany their parents on lengthy cruises during the summer months, youth counselors are usually only hired for the summer, making it ideal work for college students. The youth counselors create new children's programs and implement new and existing youth activities. Primarily you will be supervising children from the ages of 3-17. Occasionally these positions escort children on shore excursions. Of course, you really have to love kids in this job. One counselor described her experience this way:

"The ship I was assigned to sailed mainly the Caribbean all summer, but sometimes I hardly noticed my surroundings, because the children took up so much of my time. Most days I had to look after and entertain kids for twelve hours, which could get really exhausting. There's no way I could have survived the summer if I didn't really enjoy children and have such a strong interest in recreation and child development (my major in school). We did get time off though, particularly on port days; and when I wasn't catching up on rest I usually swam and went diving with the other counselors, with whom I developed really close friendships."

More detailed job descriptions, job requirements and compensation figures are listed in our Members Section.

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