What is it like to live and work aboard a cruise ship? This question we have heard over and over again. In this category we hope to demystify some of these questions.
If you’re serious about getting a job on a cruise ship, here’s the one resource you need: a 175-page ebook written, researched and recently updated by cruise employee veterans Earl Baron and Liz Aceves, How to Work on a Cruise Ship.
We bought it, reviewed it and scrutinized it. And we think it’s pretty damn good.
Getting work aboard a cruise ship is slightly different than on land. You still need to write a resume and a cover letter, go to an interview and sign a contract. The difference is that you cannot simply walk up to a ship and apply for a job.
Start by looking at your experience and skills and match them to a ship board position. If you have a degree in photography then getting work as a ship photographer is easier than trying to get a job as a bartender. If you work with children or in entertainment then you can apply to be a youth coordinator or one of the cruise staff.
When looking for work on a cruise ship, you are presented with pictures of idyllic beaches, happy working people and nice cabins.
Ahhhh, the awesomeness of marketing. While that image isn't entirely fake, it is far from the real life of a crew member. Let me break it down for you.
Working on a cruise ship is not the same as working on land, not all bad, just not the same. You do not have the luxury of going home at the end of the day. Complaining is futile, because everyone is in it together. Cruise ships for the most part operate in international waters and therefore do not need to comply with labor laws.
All departments have different work schedules and hours. Some only work while the ship is at sea while others operate regardless of the ship's location. Cruise lines are registered in countries other than the USA for various reasons, usually they are tax related. This also allows companies to skirt the laws of minimum wage and maximum hours employees are allowed to work in a day.
A cruise ship is a veritable melting pot of work , travel, cultures, ideas and STDs. Crew from around the world slave away week in and week out to keep passengers coming back. After all, the passengers make this form of work while travel possible.
Life aboard a cruise ship is filled with tight spaces, work schedules, crew parties and time in new and interesting destinations.
On every ship there are designated crew areas which, compared to passenger areas, are small and confined. Instead of nice paintings on the corridor walls there are bulletin boards and emergency evacuation information.
Disclaimer: This article is specific to Norwegian Cruise Lines, and may or may not be the same accurate for other companies. It is based on our four years of experiences working for NCL. We welcome comments from current and past staff, crew and officers and will be happy to add them to the article.
Before we delve into life aboard a cruise ship we need to explain the hierarchy of the staff and crew. Not everyone has cushy jobs with nice cabins and time off. In fact, many employees are never seen by passengers and rarely leave the ship.
As I sat on the beach in Cabo San Lucas, I gazed out at the hordes of new people crowding the beach, accosted by hawkers selling trinkets. The day before was quiet, barely a soul on the beach. This morning, however, three cruise ships dropped anchor and drip fed passenger after passenger into this popular port.
I spent four years of my life at sea, working for Norwegian Cruise Line as an executive casino host, a sweet gig. I got paid to see the world and experience other cultures. Or so I thought.