You’re literally missing the boat if you only apply directly to cruise lines. Concessionaire and staffing agents are responsible for hiring a large percentage of cruise ship employees. In fact, because people often forget to look into this possibility, the applicant pool tends to be smaller, which means your chances at getting that cruise job are increased. The main difference between the two services is who you work for. If you go through a concessionaire, understand that they are your employer, not the cruise line.
Concessionaire companies rent out space on the cruise ships. This relationship is similar to the way large shopping malls have a variety of retail stores inside, each governed by its own contract with the mall owner. Think of the last concert or sporting event you attended. The hall or stadium is not providing the food and beverages or the employees who serve them. Instead, they hire a concessionaire to handle all these details. Similarly, on a ship, beauty salons and gift shops are typically run by concessionaire companies. They pay the cruise line rent and in return the concessionaire is responsible for running the entire operation, including hiring personnel, stocking supplies, managing the staff, and of course making a profit!
When you get hired by a staffing agent, you will usually be an employee of the cruise line. Once you are placed by a staffing agent, they are usually out of the picture and all negotiations, contracts, rules, regulations, and other details are handled directly between the cruise line and the employee.
In Focus: The First Week Onboard