How to get a job on a cruise ship

Working on a cruise ship

So, you’ve weighed up all the pros and cons and have decided that a life on the ocean wave and a cruise ship career is definitely for you. Where do you go from here?

Do your research
If you’re an experienced cruiser, you’ll already have some idea of how a cruise ship is run, simply through the contact you’ve had with various members of the staff and crew and by talking to both workers and fellow cruisers. However, before you begin your search for a cruise ship job, it’s a good idea to get a sense of the ship’s hierarchy, so you’ll know your place in it.

Top of the heap are the officers, who’ve typically been in the industry for years. It’s a sort of skilled/management/hospitality role, especially for the captain, who as well as being in charge of the vessel is expected mingle with passengers and oversee all aspects of the ship’s day-to-day running. Next it’s the staff; those who are responsible for the ship’s activities and who work in all the different areas of the ship. Their jobs are similar to hospitality industry ones, with hotel managers, gym instructors, ship’s technicians and those working in the ship’s entertainment areas all comprising its staff. The nature of their job means they’re expected to interact with passengers. Crew members are on the lowest rung of the ladder and positions for the crew included, cooks, waiters, bar staff, cleaning and maintenance staff.

What’ll I do?
It’s become a bit of a cliché to refer to cruise ships as ‘floating hotels’ but certainly in terms of career opportunities, it’s a good analogy. PR, Hospitality, housekeeping, catering and entertainment are all areas of employment open to you on a cruise ship. Think about your career history, and which of these areas would be most suited to you. If you think more than one position would be suitable, it’s fine to apply for more than one, especially when you consider that cruise line jobs are worldwide positions, meaning that potentially thousands of people could be applying for a single position.

Make a list
A good place to start is to visit the websites of cruise lines directly, as they regularly update the positions available, and make a list of all the positions on offer you think would be suitable. Royal Caribbean, Norwegian Cruise Lines, Princess Cruises and Carnival all have websites with career pages and as they comprise the world’s largest lines, they typically offer the widest range of jobs.

Sign up with as many agencies as possible
While you’re scouring the cruise lines’ career pages for suitable positions, it’s a good idea to have others to help, so by signing up with as many cruise ship job agencies as possible, you’ll be able to browse through a selection of jobs and receive notifications of the latest suitable positions as they become available. It’s important to note that you’ll need to continue your own search, because not all cruise lines work with agencies. A simple internet search will provide you with the names of a number of agencies with whom you can register online.

Get a good CV
OK, so you may already have well-put together and impressive CV, but is it geared towards the cruise industry? Take a look through it and make sure you’ve mentioned all the skills and experience you have which are relevant and leave things out which are not. If you’re applying for more than on position, it’s a good idea to create a number of CVs, each geared specifically towards the type of position you’re applying for. Always list your work experience chronologically and your education starting with the highest level you have. If you can speak any other languages, be sure to mention this in your CV, as it is only ever seen as a bonus in the cruise industry and even if your past experience of travel is purely recreational, mentioning that you enjoy visiting other countries in the ‘interests’ section of your CV is a good idea, too.

Write a good covering letter
Your covering letter is your chance to catch the eye of a prospective employer. Don’t gush and try and keep it to around 400 words. Make sure you mention all the skills and experience which would make you the perfect candidate for the position and be sure to compose multiple letters; each tailored to the position you are applying for.

By Simon Brotherton

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Jenni Fielding
Jenni has been working in the travel industry for over 10 years. She fell in love with cruising on her first-ever cruise, a Caribbean cruise on Allure of the Seas, during her honeymoon in 2013. Nowadays, Jenni enjoys cruising with her husband and two young children. Her favourite ships are family-friendly megaships which are packed with exciting facilities. She loves sea days and had been known to skip port visits to spend more time on the ship!

Comments: 1 reply added

  1. Lee Simmonds March 22, 2017 Reply

    Do you have any Sales roles at yout southampton office currently.

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