How to Work on a Cruise Ship in Hawaii

Two Parts:Finding Hawaii Cruise JobsApplying for Hawaii Cruise Jobs

Cruises employ thousands of people to maintain the ship and cater to the needs of passengers. Their employees are generally divided into officers, staff, crew and concessionaires. Cruise ships usually dock throughout the world, and so they employ people from many different countries and skill levels. Some cruise ships, mainly in Hawaii and Alaska stay within a relatively small area, docking in local ports. If you want to work on a cruise ship that is based in Hawaii, you will have to target your resume to the few cruise ships that tour the Hawaiian islands. You may also look for ships that visit other islands in the South Pacific. Ship life is very different to a normal job, so you will have to prepare for long hours, working every day and following strict protocols. Learn how to work on a cruise ship in Hawaii.

Part 1
Finding Hawaii Cruise Jobs

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    Research the employment options on cruise ships. The hierarchy and job choices on cruise ships are unlike most conventional businesses. The following are types of jobs you can expect to find on Hawaii cruise ships:
    • The majority of jobs are given to the crew. These jobs include wait staff, cleaners, cooks and almost all the people providing the behind-the scenes and daily maintenance. Many of these jobs are taken by people from countries with a low cost of living, because these are the lowest paying jobs with the highest number of hours on a cruise ship. You may not be afforded many port privileges if you have a crew position.
    • One step higher are the staff jobs. The staff usually provides services directly to cruise ship passengers. They supply entertainment, cruise direction, health and fitness and other hotel-related services. Most staff jobs are giving to native English speakers because they will interact with the passengers regularly.
    • Concessionaires run the shops and casinos on the cruise ship. They are often outsourced to companies who sell their goods on the cruise ships, so you may need to look for a job outside the cruise lines that includes travel on cruise ships as part of the job description.
    • Officers are the people in charge of the sea-faring aspects of a cruise ship. They are often appointed after working on boats for some years. They are usually the same nationality as the cruise line and they interact with, dine with and even entertain the passengers daily. These jobs have the most privileges.
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    Research available cruise ship jobs online. Look on the websites for the main cruise companies in Hawaii: Norwegian Cruise Lines, Holland America Line, Royal Caribbean, Princess Cruises and Carnival Cruise Line. Most cruise companies have an employment section of their website.
    • Choose 2 to 5 jobs that you are interested in performing, after you see what jobs are available. Note the skills/qualifications that are required before you prepare your resume.
    • Print and fill out an application form. Submit this application when asked and keep a copy for in-person interviews.
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    Look for jobs on cruises that visit, but are not based in, Hawaii. These lines include Celebrity Cruise Line, Cunard, Paul Gauguin Cruises, Regent, Seabourn and Silverseas Cruises. Job postings should be listed on their websites.
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    Search on major job search engines for concessionaire positions. Try Career Builder, Monster, Indeed, Simply Hired, HCareers and Craigslist. Highlight the term "cruise" in the listings and look for jobs specifically in Hawaii.
    • Concessionaires are primarily employed by another company and they are contracted to work on cruise ships. You may need to work at the company for a certain period of time before being asked to work in a Hawaii cruise shop.

Part 2
Applying for Hawaii Cruise Jobs

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    Create a resume for each job you wish to apply for. It is not necessary for you to have previous cruise ship experience, but you must highlight applicable experience. The following guidelines should be considered when creating your resume:
    • Create your resume in an internationally accepted format, such as Microsoft Word, Portable Document Format (PDF) or Rich Text Format. Try to limit your resume to 1 or 2 pages, with no less than 10 point font.
    • List skills that show you have a passion and drive for your work. Cruise ships like to hire people that are self-motivated hard workers. Show any examples of honors you received for your work in the past.
    • Highlight your customer service and communication skills. If you are applying for staff or concessionaire work, hiring managers want to see that you are an outgoing personality with a tireless love for working with people.
    • Show your professionalism with your resume format, photograph, cover letter and application. Cruise ship staff, officers, concessionaires and crew work 7 days a week, so they need to be professional for most of the day.
    • Be extremely detail-oriented when writing your resume. Hiring managers look for people who are fastidious with their application forms and resumes, since it hints at a detail-oriented personality. Proof your resume and ask someone else to read it before sending it out.
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    Write a cover letter that enumerates how your past work experience fulfills all the requirements. In 400 words or less, highlight why you have the drive and passion to succeed in cruise ship employment.
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    Attend a job fair. Norwegian Cruise Lines hold job fairs in the United States in July and August. Visit their Pride of America employment website to find dates and requirements for the closest job fair.
    • Go to a job fair with copies of your resume and professional attire. This job fair specifically hires employees for dedicated Hawaii cruises. The Pride of America is the only cruise ship that flies the American flag, so they do their primary recruiting in America.
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    Visit cruise ship offices in Honolulu during their regular interview hours. Many cruise ship companies conduct weekly interviews in order to keep their ships well staffed. Visit the website, call ahead and arrange an interview with each company at their convenience.
    • Bring your completed application and resume to your interview. Make sure to practice interview questions related to your work experience and customer service skills. Appear professional during each interaction with the cruise company.


  • If you do not earn a job on a Hawaii cruise line right away, keep applying. Cruise employees work by contract and there is a high amount of turnover. Some cruise companies purge resumes and applications every 90 days.

Things You'll Need

  • Resume
  • Cover letter
  • Application form
  • Photograph
  • Professional attire

Article Info

Categories: Transport Careers