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How to work on a cruise ship

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Working on a cruise ship is a little different from other jobs that allow you to travel. It’s a job where the sea is always present, where you’re in a “floating resort” that has everything and you practically don’t have to get off.

Being able to work on a cruise ship is a highly recommended experience to do at least once in a lifetime. However, it can be the dream of some and the nightmare of others.

Many people ask me, when I tell them my job, what they must do to be able to work on a cruise and that is why I have decided to write this post.

In this post, I will tell you a little about how to work on a cruise ship, what types of jobs there are, how to access them, requirements, interesting facts and some companies that are constantly looking for employees to work on their ships.

Like all jobs in the world, working on a cruise ship has its pros and cons. When you work on a cruise ship, there is no doubt that you will be travelling. However, don’t idealise this type of employment because they are usually quite hard.


  How to work on a cruise ship?

Working aboard one of these huge ships will save you money. It’s a job where you live on the boat for months.

You are given accommodation and food for the duration of your stay and you also receive a salary that practically goes straight into your savings account because there are no expenses (except WiFi and other little expenses) on board.

That said, you need to know that working on a boat is not for everyone.

It’s not an easy job. On the contrary, it’s a job where you may not see land for several days or weeks.

You won’t see your family for months.

On many cruise ship chains, forget about the day off for the duration of all your contract.

And, if you’re one of those people who doesn’t like sharing a room, then it’s not your ideal job either because employee cabins are usually for two or more people which makes your “personal” space quite limited. (This depends on the position you have on board)

But, don’t panic! Obviously there are many positive things about working on a boat, so that’ s why there are people who work there. If they were purely negative things, no one would do it.

The satisfaction of arriving on a new island, of being able to get off the boat and go swimming in the sea, of walking the streets, of eating the local food of the island, etc.

In addition, on a cruise there is fun everywhere: a variety of shows at all times, swimming pools of all sizes and shapes, even football, basketball, mini-golf and other courts, people from all over the world ready to spend a great holiday and, in addition, you will travel a lot.

Not everyone is allowed to be in the guest’s areas or see the shows, unfortunately, and more often than not we aren’t permitted to use the pools and sports activities. It also depends on your job onboard and the company rules.

  Requirements for working on a cruise ship

Depending on the company you are applying for, the destinations you are travelling to and the length of the contract, the requirements to be able to work will change. However, most companies agree on the following requirements:


First things first, when you have your first interview to work on a boat, you will be asked (and demanded) if you are available to work there. Depending on the route, it will be the availability they request but, as far as I know, none of them will ask for less than 6 months. In other words, the employment contract on a cruise ship is usually at least 6 months of travelling, although there is more, of course.


Depending on your job, the languages and the level of these will be required. As a minimum, you will be asked to have an acceptable level of English, although if your job will be to be face to face with the client, you will be asked to have a high level and probably other languages such as French, German, Italian, Chinese, Spanish, etc.


For some specific positions, you will be asked for previous work experience but not necessarily on board other cruise ships.

Working under pressure

Although it is not a requirement that will determine whether you are hired or not, it is rather a recommendation that you know how to manage situations of pressure, stress and discomfort in small spaces.

Medical exams

You will be given different tests and medical examinations that you will have to pass satisfactorily. Each company will tell you where and how to take the necessary tests to work with them. (Which, by the way, I find very expensive)

C1/D Visa

Once you have been selected to work aboard one of these cruises, you will have to apply for this visa. For this, very soon there will be a very complete post on the web about How to apply for the C1/D Visa.

This is your chance to subscribe to the blog and not miss future articles, I will send you an email when new posts are published.


These courses are offered by the same cruise companies. Here all the topics about cruises will be dealt with, from protocols to greet a client, to emergency protocols.


What jobs are there on a cruise ship?

There are many jobs that you can find and apply for on a cruise ship.

Just to mention a few, you will find from musicians, hostesses, cooks, waiters, massage therapists, cleaners, camp counselors, entertainers, personal trainers, photographers, housekeepers, groomsmen, officers, lifeguards, technicians, electricians, security, among many other positions that are needed to form a great crew.

How much do you earn as a cruise ship crew member?

Obviously, the salary will vary according to your rank in the ship’s organization chart, the responsibilities of the position, the length of the contract, the days off (if any), among other things. However, here are some average salaries, in dollars, depending on the position:


As they are the most responsible positions, they are also among the best paid. Salaries vary according to experience and position.

  1. Captain – between USD $8000 and $10000 per month.
  2. Assistant Captain – between USD $5000 and $7000 per month.
  3. First Officer – between USD $4000 and $5000 per month.

Professionals in charge of the maintenance and proper functioning of the vessel.

  1. Security officer – between USD $2500 and $3500 per month.
  2. Maintenance – between USD $1800 and $2500 per month.
  3. Maintenance assistant – between USD $1500 and $1800 per month
  4. Chief Engineer – between USD $5500 and $8500 per month
  5. Chief Electrician – between USD $3000 and $4000 per month.
  6. Electrician – between USD $2000 and $2400 per month.
  7. Plumber – between USD $1600 and $2400 per month.

The crew related to the Entertainment on board

  1. Lounge performer – between USD $2500-4800 per month
  2. Cruise director – between USD $ 5800-7500 per month
  3. Singers Production Show/main vocalist – between USD $2400-6000 per month
  4. Dancers Production Show – USD $1800-3000 per month
  5. Musicians (Show Band, Orchestra, Groups, Soloists) – USD $1400-2400 per month
  6. Show Technician (lights, sound…) – USD $ 1600-1900 per month
  7. Entertainment host/sports – USD $1800-2100 per month
  8. Disc Jockey/DJ – USD $1700-3000 per month
  9. Youth Staff – Staff caring for children up to 17 years old -USD $1700-2100 per month

Other crew members

A very high number of the crew members hired on a cruise ship are people who work in the galley and, in this, the positions are extremely varied, as well as their level of English and training in general. Also, the salaries are very diverse too, for example:

  1. Chef – minimum USD $4000 per month
  2. Executive Sous Chef – minimum USD $3800 per month.
  3. Sous chef – minimum USD $3400 per month.
  4. First Chef – about USD $2000 per month.
  5. Second cook – between USD $1600 and $1900 per month.
  6. Third cook – minimum USD $1400 per month.
  7. Basic kitchen staff – between USD $900 and $1200 per month.
  8. Kitchen cleaning staff – between USD $500 and $600 per month.
  9. Shop manager – minimum USD $2200 per month.
  10. Shop salesman – minimum USD $1400 per month.

Crew members whose salary is composed of tips

These crew members work directly with guests and one of the requirements is that they have a high level of English, among other interpersonal skills. Normally, to be able to obtain one of these positions, previous experience in similar positions is required, even if it has not been on a cruise ship.

Next, I show you a list with examples of these jobs and with an average of their salary with tips – this varies enormously according to the ship and the itinerary -.

  1. Barman – between USD $1500 and $3000 per month.
  2. Bar waiter – between USD $1000 and $2500 per month.
  3. Dining room waiter – between USD $2500 and $4000 per month.
  4. Dining room waiter’s assistant – between USD $1500 and $3000 per month.

Of course there are many jobs I haven’t put in, doctors, nurses, firemen, reception staff, art gallery staff, photographers, and many more.

If you want to know more about the salaries, I recommend you to consult THIS WEBSITE where you will find more detailed information.

Companies and agencies to find work on a Cruise ship

In order to find work in this industry, the easiest and most appropriate thing to do is to go straight to the big shipping companies. That’s why I have included here a list of some companies and their websites to find job offers on cruise ships:

As a personal advice, if you want to work on a cruise ship, the whole process from the moment you apply until you board a cruise takes a long time, months. Since there are certain procedures that take time: courses, medical certificates that do not go well and you have to repeat them after a few weeks, visa and any other unexpected event that could prolong the process. So, if you intend to embark, keep this in mind.

CAST-A-WAY: This is the agency through which I personally found my job on board with the company CCL (Carnival Cruise Lines). The website is in English.

This agency works with different companies. And it has a board of offers depending on the geographical area and the job you are looking for.

Working in this sector, with a good salary that goes straight to savings, can be the dream of many and the nightmare of others. Do some research to find out if it is an experience for you and, if you think so, go for it!

If you found this post useful or interesting, I would appreciate a comment. I love reading your feedback.

I also have a post about my own experience Working on a Cruise Ship Logbook – Chapter 0 check it out!


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