The Definitive Guide: How To Become A Cruise Ship Worker

Published on: 14 Nov 2017

Ah, working on a cruise ship; it can seem like the ultimate dream for many. But while it’s a rewarding career – both socially and in terms of progression – it’s certainly hard work, too.

If you’ve pictured yourself in a role on a cruise ship, you might have imagined that you’ll have plenty of free time to sun yourself and indulge in on-board extra-curricular activities. The reality is that you’ll have little spare time and you’ll be on your feet for many of your working days.

But don’t let that put you off; some of the UK’s top celebs have enjoyed their first taste of success and fame on a cruise ship. Fancy joining the popular industry, too? Read our handy guide, which we’ve compiled with you in mind. In it, we’ve packed loads of useful hints and tips for anyone looking to make their mark onboard a luxury ship. Read on…

What is a Cruise Ship Worker?

So what exactly is Cruise Ship Work – and what exactly does it entail?

  • Job Description

    Floating resorts, cruise ships offer everything from cocktail bars and clubs, to swimming pools and shops.

    Of course, a holiday aboard a cruise ship is one thing – all fun, laughter and games – while the reality of working on-board a ship isn’t exactly that.

    Good customer service skills are key for anyone working on a cruise ship. After all, most of the people travelling with you will be on a holiday. Often on a long-awaited one at that. If you love to travel, a cruise ship job is the ideal one for you. It gives you the chance to see the world while receiving a steady wage.

    Cruise ship jobs aren’t just about singing and dancing, though; there’s well over 250 different roles you could apply for on most large ships. So which one’s for you – and what can you expect to be doing?

    You could be doing any of the following:

    • Singing, dancing and entertaining
    • Serving food and drinks
    • Working in the retail arm of the ship
    • Making up bedrooms
    • Helping people board

    Of course, those are the more common roles on board a ship and there are plenty more to choose from.

    The really great thing about working on a cruise ship is the friendships you can make. Travelling around the country and meeting a diverse group of people gives you an opportunity to strike up some great relationships while developing your skillset and learning new things.

  • Hours of Work

    Unlike your standard hospitality role on dry land, cruise ship work comes with its own set of hours and rules.

    Varying dramatically from job to job, hours can be long with few breaks in between. Some entertainment-based roles will require you to work five hours a day, while others up to seven.

    Those working on the reception or guest service team are hit the hardest when it comes to hours, with anything from eight to 12 hours being normal.

    Bar staff, meanwhile, might find themselves working up to 16 hours, with cabin and cleaning staff being designated a set number of rooms to clean. They may be cleaning a few times a day, too, and will be assigned certain areas of the ship to scrub up as well. If you decide a role in the security team on a cruise ship is the one for you, be prepared to work 24-hour shifts.

    Not big on travelling? A cruise ship job won’t be the one for you, but if you love to get away you’ll like the fact that you’ll have the odd day off to explore various cities around the world.

    The average cruise ship team member will work a 10-hour day, with staff expected to put their all into what they’re doing at all times.

  • Main Responsibilities

    So, what will be your main responsibilities when working on a cruise ship? Of course, these will vary depending on the role you take on. As we’ve already discussed, cruise ships offer a wide variety of employment opportunities.

    Bar staff, retail clerks and youth coordinators will each have a different set of priorities and responsibilities, but again, good customer service skills are key.

    As an example, the role of the waiter or barman aboard a cruise ship will come with a similar set of responsibilities as a bar staff on dry land. These will include:

    • Serving drinks and bar snacks
    • A can-do attitude and willingness to work as part of a team
    • Good communication skills

Key Cruise Ship Worker Qualifications

So, what qualifications do you need to be a Cruise Ship Worker?

By now you’re probably dreaming of applying for a role on a cruise ship. But while some roles require that you have a fairly solid set of professional skills, others are entry level positions which are ideal for anyone looking to get their foot on the ladder.

Want to be considered for a role onboard a cruise ship? Work out which job(s) you’d like to apply for and see if any of your current skillset applies to them. Now, simply read through the various job requirements and tailor your application accordingly.

As with many roles in hospitality industries like this, competition will be quite high. Keep in mind that you’ll need to stand out amongst your competition and consider how you might do this.

Do you have any official qualifications perhaps? Or maybe you have some firm experience in your chosen area of work? Think carefully about previous experience and how it might apply to the job you’re hoping to apply for.

Cruise ships offer roles for hair stylists and beauty therapists, too, so consider training in one of these two areas first if a career in that field excites you.

Get a job on a cruise ship and you may well be sorted for life; cruise ships also like to take on returnees, due to the fact that they know the person in question and can be sure they’ll do a good job. Think about this as a person new to the industry; you really have to stand out against a lot of competition.

Consider how you might make your application unique and then put your all into it before sending it off.

Vital Cruise Ship Worker Skills

What kind of skills will you need to do well on a cruise ship? Here are quite a few that will certainly stand you in good stead:

  • Great communication skills
  • Fluency in a second European language, including French and Spanish, for example
  • The ability to work well in a team
  • The ability to stay calm under pressure
  • A willingness to succeed in a competitive industry

What is a Cruise Ship Worker Salary?

Have you decided that a role on a cruise ship is definitely for you? Perhaps you’re wondering about salary, then?

In terms of the wages you’ll take home at the end of a working month, this varies from role to role. It’s also worth noting that some cruise ship companies pay considerably more than others, so make sure you do plenty of research before you apply for a position. After all, you will have to look after yourself financially while you’re away, so any extra funds will come in handy.

That said, a lot of people who work on cruise ships will save the money they earn as expenses are very low. On top of that, the room you stay in will be provided free of charge too, with a benefits package that includes everything from dental and medical insurance to holiday time with family, and profit sharing plans.


How To Become a Cruise Ship Worker

Are you a people person? If so, then a cruise ship job will be the perfect route for you to go down. Students, career-changers and retirees will also seek out roles like this in a bid to shake up their working life.

The good news is that cruise ships are always looking for people with relevant experience, particularly in the hospitality industry.

So, if you’ve worked in a bar, restaurant, casino or beauty salon, you’ll have a great chance of succeeding.

Anyone looking to embark on a career as an entertainer on a cruise ship will need relevant experience in the industry. You can’t simply apply for a role as a dancer, for example, without a list of similar roles on your CV.

Those onboard the cruise ship are looking for a good time; they definitely won’t want to see half-hearted dancers and singers who can’t keep up with the rest of the troupe!

How To Develop Cruise Ship Worker Career

By now you’ll have worked out that the roles available onboard a cruise ship are diverse. But as there are so many roles, there will most certainly be one for you.

Think about what you’re skilled in and consider how it might apply to a role aboard a ship like this.

In terms of progression, this all depends on the type of role you take on. But successful cruise ship entertainers have gone on to become huge TV stars in their own right, with some famous television actresses and actors also beginning their working life in this way.

Is it about time you got ‘onboard’ with a role in this industry?

Career Opportunities