Working on a Cruise Ship

By ,   November 26, 2015 ,   Ships and Lines

Thousands of people take cruises each year. Cruising is nowadays a sector of tourist industry that is one of the fastest growing. New cruise ships are being built each year, including Cunard's Queen Mary 2. For that reason there is an increasing number of cruise jobs openings as opportunities for differently skilled people who may even not have any experience to work at sea.

Modern cruise ships today are just like mobile resorts with cinemas, casinos, fitness centers, swimming pools, lecture halls, so jobs' range is enormous. Wages are similar to the ones on land. The difference concerns gratuities which can be good and the opportunity to work on a cruise ship and to save money is excellent.

Working on a cruise ship - jobs

working on cruise ships reviews/information/jobs/pay, cruise ship jobs vacancies no experienceWhen you start job hunting, apply better to as many cruise agencies as possible - this will increase your chances to be employed. Afterwards, if you receive more offers of employment, you will be in stronger position to choose the best conditions. Of course, you should be selective - target companies which you think will require skills that are particular for you. When you apply for cruise ship job, consider the minimum age - cruise lines are usually reluctant to hire personnel under twenty-one, but some eighteen, nineteen and twenty year old people have also found employment. If you apply for work in areas as casinos or bars, certainly you will have to be over twenty-one.

Be careful to address the application to the correct department, better using name of relevant person. Major cruise ship lines have offices all around the world and there is no use to apply to UK division for instance if the recruitment is handled in Miami. Clarify the details by asking for the job title and name of a person responsible for all correspondence. The impact of your letter will be stronger if it is not addressed to anonymous 'Dear Sir / Madam'. Unsolicited emails and faxes are usually considered 'junk mail' and hinder rather than help.

The offices of major cruise lines are extremely busy, so telephone calls that are unsolicited are not encouraged. Phoning may sometimes be the only means of obtaining department and name of the person responsible that you need. Better ring at off-peak time - may be late afternoon is a good decision, but be prepared not to be given the required information. When you phone, consider global time differences. As the popularity of Internet is increasing, many cruise lines nowadays have websites- a valuable source of information, as some even advertise job vacancies.

Present your personal details professionally - print communications and remember to include a covering letter. Set out CV clearly, enclose copies of references and relevant information. Some companies require you to fill in an official form - enclose additional information if you think it is suitable and relevant to application. They will offer you the job if you offer more qualifications! You may be offered the desired job only on the basis of your application, but in other cases you may be invited to an interview. If you have not received a reply, you could make a telephone call to make sure if the company have received your details. Remind them that you are still waiting.

Company files are regularly renewed. If the company has not contacted you within six months, better send fresh application (more on how to write a job winning CV at cruise ship jobs application). Cruise line employers often telephone applicants for offering them a job rather than to use other communication forms. So, if your phone is usually unattended, invest in an answering machine.

cruise ship job

Where to Apply for Cruise Ship Jobs

Third party hiring firms are often used to recruit for positions that are not listed on the cruise company's websites. While it's true that some lines hire directly while others use third party firms to recruit for specialty positions, there are also companies selling tips and tricks to ensure a cruise ship employment. Such companies are not representatives of the cruise lines, and any that pretend to offer guarantee of employment are simply scams.

It is up to you to decide whether you wish to pay for such type of information. But you should realize that this will not replace applying directly with cruise lines or third party companies used for recruiting services. Reputable third party staffing firms never sell information on how to apply for jobs, nor do they charge an application fee.

As an example, Royal Caribbean posts a warning about online scams. The line lets prospective employees know that asking for credit card information is not a part of online application process. Research carefully before you provide personal information to anyone on the web.

Common Myths About Cruise Ship Jobs

  • There are some myths about cruise ship employment that are just not true. Two such fables include the notion that Americans are never hired aboard cruise ships and that employees who work onboard cruise vessels work 20 hours per day. What is the reality? 
  • Cruise employees are recruited from all over the globe, including the United States.
  • The working hours in some departments are very long, and may stagger throughout the day. However, they usually total 10-12 hours per day.
  • The cabin stewards are responsible for refreshing, cleaning and turndown services, all happening at different times.
  • Restaurant staff work 2 to 3 shifts per day, which includes a shorter breakfast, lunch/midnight buffet shift, and a longer dinner shift.
  • Entertainers perform once or twice per day - read our review about Performing on Cruise Ships.

Working on a cruise ship may not be the right decision for you, but don't rely on incorrect myths. Finding legitimate work aboard a cruise ship is actually possible with careful planning and research. Working aboard is not just a job, it's a life-changing experience.

Cruise Ship Employment Process

Employment processes vary depending on the size and the type of the cruise line. Researching cruise ship employment is time-consuming. Knowing the online hiring practices for major lines can help figure out where to focus job search.

Carnival Corporation

Carnival Corp. is the biggest cruise company in the industry. It is publicly traded, with major holdings including Carnival Cruise Lines, Princess, Holland America, Cunard, to name a few. They own operations for based on land tour firms and cruise port facilities. Their tricky application process uses third party companies to fill hotel and restaurant operations jobs, mostly with international applicants.

CCL Carnival Cruise Lines

There are several ways to apply for a job with Carnival Cruise Lines, including directly with the company and its partners. For US applicants, prospective employees can attend hiring events. They feature a spot on their career site to sign up and be notified if recruitment events are happening in local area. The company places newspaper and online job board ads when recruiting in a specific region.

Carnival UK

Carnival UK oversees Cunard and P&O. Their careers website includes information on onboard careers and jobs with land based operations. Search for open positions and get dates for shipboard recruiting events.

Other Opportunities by Carnival

Carnival Corp. also owns AIDA, Costa, Seabourn and Ibero Cruise Lines. Each of these lines is responsible for staffing its cruise ships. Requirements vary, so better connect directly with the individual careers websites via the Carnival Corp. careers page.

Royal Caribbean Cruises

Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. holds the Royal Caribbean Cruise line, Azamara Club Cruises, Celebrity and a few smaller international brands. The company began in 1968. For those looking to work aboard a cruise ship, it provides a simple process for applying. The US corporate office is located in Miami, Florida. Job listings for international corporate positions and for this office are available to review, along with employee testimonials. The listings contain full job descriptions and you can apply directly online.

RCL has a separate webpage for shipboard jobs with information on how to apply and about the hiring companies. Royal Caribbean also list jobs that are currently in high demand, including specialty positions. They encourage online applying. Users can create a free profile and apply for multiple positions.

Disney Cruise Line

Disney is a major cruise line employer. It operates four ships: Disney Dream, Fantasy, Magic and Wonder. The application process is like Carnival's, with third party hiring company. Disney Cruise Line requires applicants to be 21 years of age or older.

Information about positions on land and at sea is accessed via the hiring website of Disney, though the line does not accept direct applications. The site contains videos of many of the positions, as well as a database allowing to search job opportunities. They also provide online information about interview preparation and contracts.

To be considered for a cruise ship job position with Disney Cruise Lines, you'll need to apply with one of the third party hiring companies. Referred to as procurement allies, these companies are assigned by applicant's geographic location.

Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL)

Norwegian Cruise Line is also a major player in cruise industry. Its vessels work with third party hiring companies or hire for some positions directly, for many onboard jobs. For employment at the call center in Mesa Arizona or at the office in Miami FL, the line maintains an online career center. Each available position is posted, and applicants may submit an online resume. Specific experience needed varies for each position, but all require customer service experience. Shipboard positions are also available to apply online. Norwegian Cruise Line reviews resumes from around the world in case the job seekers have the required training or experience.

NCL's Pride of America ship sails under a U.S. flag. Therefore, the ship must be staffed predominantly by a U.S. crew - a good news for job seekers from the U.S. The ship has a single itinerary, consisting of 7-day sailings around the Hawaiian Islands. There is an offshoot company named NCL America to oversee hiring for this ship. 

Working on a cruise ship - pay (data source: cruise ship jobs)

  • Accounting / Finance - $2000-3600
  • Advertising, Air/Sea Operations, Auctioneer, Religion, Dance Host - $2200-300
  • Beauty Salon / Spa – hairdressing, fitness, massage, acupuncture - $3800-6700
  • Cruise Casino Jobs - $1500-3600
  • Cruise Staff / Youth Staff - $1600-7500
  • Deck Department - $1400-9800
  • Documentation Department - $1800-4200
  • Engine - $900-9200
  • Entertainment - $1600-18000
  • Financial - $1600-5400
  • Galley / Culinary - $800-6800
  • General Maintenance/Purchasing - $1300-2800
  • Ground & Guest Services - $1600-2800
  • Housekeeping - $600-3800
  • Human Resources - $1400-6500
  • Information / Technology - $2000-6800
  • Instructors / Lecturers - $2100-4200
  • Medical Services - $2500-7000
  • Photography - $1200-3600
  • Restaurants, Bars, Kitchen - $900-6000
  • Sales & Reservations - $1800-3500.

Working on cruise ships is a special, well payed and best fun experience. Do your best and get one of the numerous jobs available on this ever growing market.