Until changes come from the U.S. government, what does this mean for you as a job seeker when North Americans are somewhat excluded from the low wage housekeeping, maintenance, and kitchen support staff positions? Fortunately, a majority of cruise ship passengers are North Americans, so cruise lines are eager to hire Americans and Canadians (& other native English speakers) for customer service positions involving interaction with English-speaking tourists. This includes shore excursion directors, retail clerks, bartenders, cruise staff, casino staff, child care and hosts, just to name a few. Not only do these positions pay far better than most other shipboard jobs, they’re more interesting, carry more privileges and freedom to roam all areas of the ship and mingle with passengers, and often afford better living quarters than lower-wage jobs.
Of course, the drawback to this arrangement is that many low-skill jobs that would normally be entry-level on land simply won’t be available to you on many of the foreign flagged vessels. This means that for these vessels, you must work hard to convince cruise lines that you already have the skills necessary to work on board in more specialized positions, such as casino work, retail sales, or aerobics instruction. Also, you must sell yourself as having the ability to interact well with passengers, one of a personnel manager’s primary concerns. This may be easier than you might initially think. We provide some great exercises and examples in our Getting Hired section and our Job Hunting section.