FAQ About Working on a Cruise Ship

Q: What jobs are available working on a cruise ship?

A: Cruise ships offers a wide variety of employment opportunities. Some of the positions that are often available are: bartenders, shore excursion directors, retail clerks, youth coordinators, child care staff, musicians and entertainers, casino staff, cruise staff, restaurant staff and hosts, merchant marines, able seamen, engineers, to name a few.

To view a more complete list of cruise ship positions, follow the link!

Q: How much can I earn working a cruise ship job?

A:Earnings and benefits vary according to your position, the company you work for, the ship's size and its clientele. Many people who work on cruise ships save most of the money they earn because they have so few expenses. Your room and board is usually provided for free.mediterranean cruise photo Most companies also offer a generous benefits package that often includes: medical and dental insurance, life insurance, disability insurance, 401K plan, profit sharing plans, travel benefits for you and your family and vacation time, etc.

Monthly wages range from $1,500 to $8,000 or more.

Again it is important to remember that you have the opportunity to save most of the money you earn, unless you spend too much time in the bars, the casinos or spend too much when you are in port. Another perk is that some of the cruise ships even have bar allowances for their staff, so this will limit your bar expense.

Q: What are the ships like? Are there alternatives to working on one of those huge ships I've seen on TV?

A: Definitely! Ships come in different sizes and are built for a variety of purposes. Your experience as an employee will vary greatly depending on the size of ship and the employer's 'mission.' We profile:

Q: What are the living conditions like aboard a cruise ship at sea?

A: While it is true that accommodations are sometimes cramped, especially on smaller vessels, and you'll be sharing your cabin with little or no privacy, most find the experience similar to their fist year in college dorm, but without the homework. Usually staff have their own dining room, away from the passengers and on days off, employees can hang out by the pool, sunbathe, or use the spa. Some ships provide extra amenities for employees, such as televisions for each room, a special crew bar and lounge and special recreation lounges near the crew quarters.

Q: What are some of the places a person may get to see as an employee aboard one of the larger cruise lines?

A: The ports of call and sheer number of destinations reached by cruise lines today offer cruise employees an unparalleled opportunity for travel. For instance, last year a Princess Cruises cruise ship traveled from Acapulco, through the Panama Canal, around the Caribbean, across the Atlantic to the Mediterranean. Then headed down to North Africa, around the British Isles, through the Baltic Sea, and back across the Atlantic to New York.

Today, cruise ships are sailing all over the world, so you have the opportunity to visit a number of exciting destinations.

Q: How much time do you spend off the ship?

A: The amount of time you spend off the ship depends on three main factors 1.) The contract you hold with your employer and 2.) The amount of time your ship allows passengers to visit ports. 3.) Your position on the cruise ship. Crew members working in departments and positions that are slow or closed when a ship is in port, generally have more free time in each port.

When your ship stops at ports most crew members are allowed (and in most cases encouraged) to get off the ship and explore. Generally, crew members are allowed to be out in port until one hour prior to departure (of course, unless they are on duty).

Most cruise line contracts typically require a four to six month commitment for new employees. Some cruise lines allow you to take a limited amount of vacation time during a contract and other do not. If this is important to you, it should be discussed prior to accepting the position.

Q: Do I need to be an United States Citizen to use CruiseJobFinder or to get a job on a cruise ship?

A: JobSeekers from any nationality can use the employment resources on CruiseJobFinder. The website is written in English, so it is important that you are able to read English in able to get the most benefit out of a membership to CruiseJobFinder.

Most cruise ships are foreign flagged and do not need to operate under the strict US labor laws. So cruise lines are free to hire people from all over the world to fill their positions. Because the majority of cruise ship passengers speak English, cruise lines generally like to hire crew with a good command of the English language for positions that have a high degree of passenger contact. This would include cruise staff, casino staff, gift shop and other sales people, host, hostesses, disc jockeys, fitness instructors, lecturers, youth counselors, water sports instructors, photographers, art auctioneers, cosmetologist, hair stylists, massage therapist, doctors, nurses, purser department, and the bar department.

On most cruise lines, the crew can be very diverse with crew members from 25 or more different countries.

There are a handful of cruise ships that are flagged in the United States and hire almost all their crew from the United States. These cruise ship usually sail around Hawaii, Alaska, the Great Lakes or on US rivers. We cover all of the US flagged and foreign flagged cruise ships in the members section of CruiseJobFinder.

Q: If Hired, will the cruise line buy my uniforms?

A: It depends on the cruise line. Some companies will pay for crew member's uniforms and some will require their crew members to purchase their own uniforms. Almost all of the cruise lines require their crew members to purchase their own shoes that are in accordance with uniform regulations. Make sure you determine what the company policy is on uniforms prior to accepting a position.

Q: Are crew members allowed to use guest amenities?

A: Most of the cruise lines will allow their crew to use guest amenities on their time off. However, passengers always take priority when using the pool, gym etc. Most cruise will also offer their crew a mess or recreation area/ dining hall and in some cases a crew bar where drinks are sold considerable less than in passenger's bars.

Q: What happens if I decide to break my contract?

A: If you decide that cruise life is not for you and break your contract you will have to pay for all costs to get yourself home.

Q: What kind of training regarding safety and emergency protocol will I receive?

A: Crew members will be required to attend a safety course following embarkment on ship. Instruction on lifeboat/raft safety, fire drills and understanding of fire safe and watertight doors will be taught. You will encounter routine emergency drills throughout your employment on the ship.

Q: What happens if somehow I miss the ship when I am at port?

A: This is never a good idea and could result in a demotion or loss of job. Most companies require their crew to be on-board an hour prior to departure. Pay close attention to the sailing schedule and keep an eye on time. If you do however, for some good reason miss the ship your cruise line's agents will help you find the ship and board again. However, there may be some expense to you.

Q: Can I apply for a specific ship with a cruise line?

A: The best course of action is to apply to the various cruise companies of your choice. After you have made a strong impression on the company and they indicate they would like for you to work for them, politely request a ship you would like to work on.

Q: Can I work on the same cruise ship as my spouse or friend?

A: Yes, this may be possible. However, you don't want to make a whole bunch of requests before you are hired. We recommend that you and your spouse/friend each apply to the same set of companies. But you should each apply separately and then during to the mid to later stages of the interview process, you should let your recruiter/human resources representative know that your spouse/friend is also interested in working on the same ship. If a position is available that he/she is qualified for, many companies will try to make things work out.

Please note, that companies are more likely to accommodate married couples, but often they can help arrange it so you can work with a friend as well.

Q: Can I live with my spouse on the ship?

A: Yes, this is usually possible. It will be important to let the company know that you are on the ship with your husband/wife prior to making room assignments so the company has plenty of time to plan accordingly.

Q: How can I remain in contact with my world at home?

A: Many cruise ships do offer internet connections for laptop computers and also have a computer lounge for those without computers (however there may be a fee for both of these options). If the cost is more than you want to pay, it is common for crew members to visit one of the many internet cafes that are in each of the ports of call.

You may keep in touch with people from back home through e-mail, cellular phones, phone cards and mail. Mail goes to the company agents in various ports and is delivered to ships when they dock there and distributed on board. The internet offers many ways to stay connected with the world when you are away. Online banking, shopping and correspondence can keep your life up and running.

Q: I have never been at sea for very long, what happens if I get seasick?

A: Most cruise ships are large and seasickness is usually not a problem. There is some generic over the counter medicine that can help you with seasickness. Most people find that getting some fresh air on a deck that is in the middle of the ship and lower will be a little less rocky. Additionally, many find that their seasickness goes away after their body has had some time to adapt.

Q: The travel opportunities sound great, but what about people who are not comfortable being out at sea, especially for extended periods of time?

A: People who would rather stay on land can still take advantage of the lucrative travel industry for summer jobs or year-round jobs. There are over 300 land tour companies in North America (and many more in Europe and throughout the world) that hire tour guides and managers. These companies provide guided tours to all corners of the globe, offering excursions such as scenic bus trips, river rafting adventures, and trolley car tours.


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