The following are brief descriptions of some of the main positions aboard cruise ships that will give you a general idea of the qualifications and duties of each job. Shipboard employees are typically divided into departments relating to service, passenger accommodations (sometimes called “hotel administration”), entertainment, general ship maintenance, engine work, and safety. Different cruise lines use variations on these categories, but for our purposes we have divided onboard job descriptions into the areas of Hotel (Activity/Entertainment, Service/Hospitality, Personal Care), Deck, and Engineering.
In Focus: Cruise Staff Role (Disney Cruise Line)
A fifth category is Corporate/Office, which includes those jobs commonly available in corporate headquarters. If you want to work in an office environment and avoid a nomadic lifestyle and demanding tourists, this might be the right path for you. Going corporate is a way to get travel benefits and can be your key to a job on board a vessel at a later time, if you so choose.
The majority of corporate offices are either in Los Angeles or Florida. However, New York, Seattle, and various European cities also have their share. If you live in or near one of these cities, you may want to start applying to the companies located in the city near you as it will be easy for you to attend an in-person interview. If you do not live near any of these cities, don’t be discouraged. Much of the application process can be done from anywhere in the world via phone, fax and E-mail. Also, a number of companies conduct traveling job fairs or have staffing agents around the world.
The types of jobs available are wide-ranging and include booking agents, administrative assistants, sales representatives, human resource representatives, and marketing personnel. Plenty of other jobs exist as well.
These positions are often synonymous with “cruise staff” and deal with anything relating to passenger entertainment. This department includes hosts and hostesses, cruise directors and staff, disc jockeys, performers, swimming instructors, and shore excursion staff. These positions are considered the most glamorous on the ship, and are probably the most sought-after jobs in the cruise industry.
In Focus: Activities Staff
For more detailed job overviews see: Activity & Entertainment positions and their job requirements.
In Focus: Day in the Life of an Automated Systems Rigger
Disney Cruise Line
These positions fall under the “Hotel Management” department. These staff members have the responsibility of managing the restaurants, bars,
and passenger cabins, as well as shipboard retail concessions like gift shops. Those who serve food or alcohol can make a handsome amount of money from tips. As the old saying goes, “The captain receives all the glory onboard but when the ship docks the captain leaves on a scooter and the waiter leaves in his Benz.” The purser (the ship’s treasurer in charge of passenger accounts, tickets, changing currency, etc.) and his or her staff are also included in this department. For a more detailed overview of Service/Hospitality Positions, Click Here!
In Focus: Beverage Server
Food and Beverage
The personal care department can include fitness, beauty, spa and medical services. These positions are important to the passengers who signed up for the cruise to “pamper themselves silly.” More and more cruise ships are updating their spa and fitness facilities as the demand for these services increases. The medical department offers medical services to the passengers and crew. For a more detailed overview of Personal Care Positions,
This department is responsible for maintaining and running the vessel. On large ships, this department usually does not have many entry-level positions open to North Americans. People working in the deck department include deckhands, maintenance workers, engineers, and officers. It is their job to motor or sail the ship, attend to the physical maintenance needs of the ship, and keep it in accordance with fleet regulations and international maritime laws. Officers are in charge of passenger safety as well. For a more detailed overview of Deck Positions, Click Here!
These are generally onshore positions in which employees work in the main office arranging cruises or performing general office work. These positions include administrative assistants, booking agents, sales/marketing staff, and clerical workers. For a more detailed overview of Office Positions, Click Here!