How To Get A Job On A Cruise Ship

April 20, 2011


At The Cruise Line we’re often asked “what’s the best way to get a job on a cruise ship?”  Being a cruise travel agent , we’re not actually in a position to be able to offer jobs with cruise lines so we thought we’d help you out a little bit by putting up some information with a view to helping you get on your way to finding your cruise line job.

So you’d like to work on a cruise ship? Well, with the attractive appeal of travelling round the world whilst being paid, it’s not hard to see why. Although the job can require long hours and often a lengthy contract, it can be fun, exciting and there’s lots of opportunity to get to know your colleagues and make new friends.

A few years ago I was in the same position and was lucky enough to secure a position as waitress on a Captain Cook Cruises ship.  I applied for the vacancy online and after a face-to-face interview; I started work the next day, sailing around Australia’s Great Barrier Reef.  The job involved serving guests breakfast, lunch and three-course dinner with the added roles of serving evening canapés and undertaking nightly turndowns (basically putting a chocolate on guests’ pillows). One of the highlights of working on the Reef Endeavour was that it was a small ship, with no more than 30 crewmembers  so it was a friendly environment to work in.  As a whole, working onboard a cruise ship was a brilliant experience, although the hours were long (up to 12hr a days, seven days a week), the time off spent basking in the sun, visiting islands and snorkelling more than made up for it.

The first step in searching for your cruise job is probably recognising which positions you would actually be able to fulfil. Modern cruise ships are more akin to floating hotels so there’s a range of diverse roles available with positions ranging from obvious hospitality roles such as waitressing and house-keeping to more specific positions such as sports instructors, croupiers and engineers amongst others.  If you haven’t worked on a ship before, don’t worry too much – whilst cruise lines are always interested in relevant experience, there are some positions that require no more than basic skills and enthusiasm – once you’re established some lines might even offer training in other avenues should you wish to try something different once you’re an established member of staff with a few seasons under your belt.

So, assuming you have now decided what type of job you’re after, you now need to find it.  Luckily, the cruise industry is growing year-on-year which means there are always positions that need filling both on a long and short-term basis.  However, it is a competitive market place so to help you on your way we’ve selected our top 3 tips for getting your foot on the ladder using just the internet and some steely determination.

Sign up to a cruise ship employment agency:

A quick search on Google will tell you that there are LOADS of sites out there offering jobs on cruise ships.  In fact, there are so many that it’s hard to tell which the best ones are. In my experience, I have heard good things about Cruise Line Jobs which offers the contact details of recruitment agencies separated by country (there are 39 in the UK alone!) but of course, feel free to do your own research.

Finding a job with a cruise line is more often than not about being in the right place at the right time so you might feel your chances are increased if you’re listed on as many sites as possible.   The process for many of these job sites is relatively straight-forward and hassle free – you simply sign up, add your details and then wait for them to contact you.

(A word of warning on this – and it probably goes without saying – but be aware that these sites can occasionally be targeted by scammers so we’d advise you to never enter a job application process that requests you send money in return for a position.  We get a number of people contact us throughout the year who’ve have fallen prey to such devious scams so be vigilant!)

Use the cruise line’s official channels:

Ok, so you’ve listed your details on a number cruise job sites and feel like upping the ante slightly.  A great way of doing this is to search for vacancies on the websites of the cruise lines themselves. This can be quite time-consuming when you consider how many cruise lines there are, but if you’ve got your sights set on a particular line or particular position, it’s a great way of ‘cutting out the middleman’. In most cases this process will allow you to apply directly to the cruise line’s HR department which means your CV is automatically being seen by people or the person who needs to see it.

Similar to many large organisations, nearly all cruise lines have a recruitment page on their website that list their current vacancies and their requirements.  I had a brief look and found that Silversea, Royal Caribbean and Oceania Cruises all offer this option.  Larger cruise lines might even be able to supply you with details of cruise job recruitment fairs and other such events.

Contact the cruise line of your choice directly:

If you’re really keen there’s always the option of emailing a speculative CV to the hiring managers of cruise lines; this can be especially effective if looking to work on small cruise ships as many of them may take a more ‘rustic’ approach to recruitment.  Even if the cruise line isn’t hiring, they might offer you the opportunity of being notified when their recruitment drives begin and you never know; your determination may stand you in good stead – it’s all about the right place at the right time after all!

Finally make sure your CV is up-to-date and be prepared to travel to locations for interviews. In addition, take note that a medical is always required from the cruise line once you have secured a position.

Good Luck and happy job hunting!

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