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How to Work on Cruise Ships

Two Methods:Researching Cruise Ship JobsApplying for Cruise Ship Jobs

Cruise ships are staffed by thousands of service, hospitality, customer service and boating professionals. They are required to sign contracts to work internationally for months at a time. Cruise ships hire a crew to work in every aspect of the ship's maintenance, staff to manage the ship and concessionaires to work in the shops. Working on a cruise ship is a great way to see the world, save money and meet new people from many different countries. It may help to keep a broad list of jobs you would be willing to do, in order to increase your chances of landing a cruise ship job. Learn how to work on cruise ships.

Method 1
Researching Cruise Ship Jobs

  1. Image titled Work on Cruise Ships Step 1
    Decide if a cruise ship job or career is the right choice for you. Although it can be a wonderful way to see the world, there are some considerations you should take into account.
    • Determine if you suffer easily from seasickness. Some light seasickness can be expected amongst even the seasoned pros; however, cruise crew and staff generally sleep at the bottom of the ship where there are few windows and tight spaces. If these are problems for you, then a cruise ship will probably not be a good environment for your work.
    • Consider if you are up to working 7 days a week. People who work on cruise ships work varying hours every day of the week for the duration of the contract. You may get 2 to 4 months vacation between contracts, but you can expect to work up to 14 hours per day.
    • Decide if you are able to spend months with little communication with the outside world. Cruise ship jobs are often taken by young, single people because they must work for months away from home. Some Internet is available on board, for a fee.
  2. Image titled Work on Cruise Ships Step 2
    Understand how a cruise ship operates. If you are not an experienced cruise patron, you may need to do your research to get an idea of the general hierarchy of cruise ships. They are run similarly to hotels; however, there are many differences that separate them from normal company jobs.
    • Officers are employed to run the ship. The captain is in charge of navigation as well as hotel/hospitality duties. The officers generally come from the place of the cruise ship's origin, such as Greece, Norway, Holland or the United States. These are coveted jobs usually given to people who have worked in seafaring industries for years. The officers interact regularly with passengers, while it is discouraged outside of work for other employees.
    • The staff is responsible for the management of the ship's day to day activities. The crew can include some entry-level and other management jobs. The crew usually stay in their own room or have 1 other roommate. They are often native English speakers because they interact with the passengers. Included in the staff are the hotel managers, entertainment, technicians, photographers and fitness instructors. Much of the staff can enjoy some port privileges.
    • The concessionaires are people who are often hired by outside agencies to run casinos, gift shops and other stores. Cruise ships often, but not always, contract these services to outside companies. In this case, it is likely you will need to seek employment with that outside company and discuss the frequency of cruise ship assignments. Many concessionaires must close their shops during port calls, so they get to enjoy the cruise destinations.
    • The crew are often considered the lowest in the chain of command. These are the cooks, busboys, bar staff, waiters and cleaning and maintenance staff. The wages for this work are lower than other positions, so most workers come from countries with a lower cost or standard of living. Crew live on the bottom decks and work the most hours. Some crew do not get to leave during port calls.
  3. Image titled Work on Cruise Ships Step 3
    Make a list of cruise ship jobs that are available. Visit websites for "the big 3," Royal Caribbean, Carnival and Norwegian Cruise lines, to look for job opportunities. They should list a wide variety of staff and crew positions.
    • Looking for more than 1 position will increase your chances of getting a cruise ship position. People from around the world apply for jobs on these ships, so you will be facing hundreds or thousands of competitors. Choose positions that directly apply to your education and/or work experience.

Method 2
Applying for Cruise Ship Jobs

  1. Image titled Work on Cruise Ships Step 4
    Create a resume for each position you are applying for. The following are general guidelines for writing a cruise ship resume:
    • Use an accepted electronic format, such as Microsoft Word, Portable Document Format or Rich Text Format. Keep your resume to a length of 1 or 2 pages with no less than 10 point font.
    • List your work experience in reverse chronological order. People with extensive work experience should list it before education on their resume. Include the skills under each job that directly apply to the cruise ship position you are apply for. Don't assume that any human resources person will know the company or job, since they may be hiring from a different country.
    • List your education starting with the highest level of education you have received. Include any honors you received. People who have little work experience may need to list their education first. They may also want to apply for entry-level jobs in order to gain experience.
    • List all languages, including your level of fluency. Create a section for special skills that relate to the job. You may even want to list travel experience. Highlight any skills in the hospitality or travel industries.
    • Include a photograph of yourself, if asked. Although this is not generally done in the United States, it is required by some companies. Make it a professional, flattering photo. Choose 1 that does not include other people.
    • Include 2 to 3 business references. They should be people who can vouch for your good work ethic, customer service skills and integrity. Make sure to include the numbers in international format that includes the country code.
  2. Image titled Work on Cruise Ships Step 5
    Write a convincing cover letter/email for every application. In 400 words or less, highlight your experience, skills and education that mean you are an ideal fit for the position. Make sure to customize the cover letter for each different position you are applying for.
  3. Image titled Work on Cruise Ships Step 6
    Apply for positions at "the big 3" and at smaller cruise companies. If you have experience working with youth, you may have a better chance of getting a job on a Disney cruise. If you have experience working with seniors, adventure travelers or other niche markets, use it to your advantage in your resume and cover letter.
  4. Image titled Work on Cruise Ships Step 7
    Contact cruise ship recruiters and cruise ship job search websites, if you aren't able to find a job through conventional Internet search methods. Make sure you are using a legitimate site or company before paying any money to search.
  5. Image titled Work on Cruise Ships Step 8
    Contact cruise ship hiring departments and recruiters to update your resume. If you don't get a cruise ship job the first time around, look for jobs with hospitality experience and reapply for new positions as they are listed.


  • Be wary of cruise ship recruiters that require you to pay money for a job search. Any cruise ship recruiter should receive payment from the cruise ship for finding people to fill a job, so you should not have to pay the recruiter. You can be easily stung with schemes to take advantage of people who don't know the cruise ship industry.

Things You'll Need

  • Resume
  • Hospitality work experience
  • Cover letter
  • References
  • Cruise ship recruiter (optional)

Article Info

Categories: Transport Careers