Working on Small Cruise Ships

Adventure is the theme for many small ship cruises. You'll be sailing close to glaciers, whales, penguins, or near white beaches, or on rivers near canyons. Although many people think of mega-ships when the word "cruise" is mentioned, you should also consider working on a small ship line, where the focus is often traveling to unusual places, or on specific activities or exploration. Small ships vary in size, from yachts that accommodate 20 to 30 passengers plus crew, to larger ships that carry 100 passengers and crew members. The popularity of these smaller cruise ships is on the rise, for many reasons. They have a more intimate, personal atmosphere, and they are also usually more focused on a specific region or activity. Typically marketed as adventure or exploration cruises, these ships often travel to more remote or less developed locations.

Because the sector is growing, there are more small cruises being offered, which means an increased need for employees. While there are fewer positions in this sector of the cruise industry, employers are looking for many of the same types of applicants that large cruise lines look for.

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Big Cruise Ships vs. Small Cruise Ships: The Differences

If you're considering a job with a small ship cruise line, you should know about some of the differences between working on a small ship versus a large ship. Here are just a few of the differences that you may encounter.

  • You will work long hours on all ships, but because there is a smaller staff onboard a yacht or smaller ship, you may work more hours or be expected to perform more duties.
  • As mentioned above, you may find that your job is less specialized. Housekeeping may include passenger rooms plus the dining room and other areas.
  • You will work under close quarters with your fellow workers, and with the passengers. There is much less space to "get away" if you feel you need time to yourself.
  • You will get to know other people, your co-workers especially, much better since there are fewer staff members. If you are a person who likes to keep to yourself, this may not be the best option for you.
  • There may be less variety in the ship's itineraries, since small lines usually focus on specific geographic areas.

Sample Ports of Call

Despite the fact that some smaller cruise lines focus on a particular geographic region, there are still hundreds of itineraries to choose from. Here's a small sample.

  • Alaska/Ports of Call: Juneau; Glacier Bay National Park; Icy Strait; Frederick Sound; Admiralty Island; Endicott Arm
  • Western U.S. Rivers: Lewiston, Idaho; Hells Canyon; The Palouse Canyon; Washington Wine Country; Columbia River
  • The Great Barrier Reef/Tropical North Queensland: Cairns; Townsville; Lizard Island
  • Australian Outback: The Kimberly; Mitchell Gorge; King George Gorge; Prince Regent and Hunter Rivers
  • Melanesia/The South Pacific: New Caledonia; Lifou Island; Vanuatu; Pentecost Island; Ureparapara Island; Solomon Islands; Santa Ana; Ghizo; Kennedy Island
  • Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego: Punta Arenas; Ainsworth Bay; Tuckers Islet, Pia Glacier; Glacier Alley; Cape Horn, Wulaia Bay; Ushuaia
  • Hawaii: Maui; Lana'i; Moloka'i - Halawa Valley; Big Island Coast

From glaciers and ice to Hawaiian beaches, there are many exotic, exciting, or adventurous itineraries available to small cruise line job seekers. Just remember that since there are fewer crew members on these ships, which translates into fewer job openings, the competition for these jobs could be more intense. But you're sure to find a cruise line and itinerary that captures your imagination.

Learn about the world's leading small ship cruise lines and search a list of the latest job openings in our JobCenter today.


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