How to Become a Wine Steward on Cruise Ships

Wine steward is another term for “sommelier.” Sommelier is actually the preferred term. A sommelier is a veritable encyclopedia of wines. They have superior knowledge of wine regions, winemaking methods, wine pairings, and every type of wine known to man. Their knowledge and expertise is invaluable when it comes the restaurant business, especially fine dining. Sommeliers are a staple in high end hotel restaurants, fine dining establishments, and on luxury cruise liners. They can be found in higher end restaurants on moderately priced cruise liners as well.

In addition to being the foremost authority on wine in any given establishment, Sommeliers are also responsible for:

· Attending wine fairs and wine tastings nationally and internationally
· Creating and maintaining the wine list
· Discussing and recommending wines with guests
· Ensuring proper storage and serving of wines
· Keeping abreast with local and international wine developments
· Keeping and managing inventory of wines
· Maintaining wine-serving equipment
· Organizing and promoting wine-tasting sessions or events
· Selecting, buying, storing, selling, and serving wines
· Training waiters/waitresses and sommeliers-in-training
· Wine promotion and sales

Sommeliers must collaborate with the F&B manager, the executive head chef, the restaurant manager, serving staff, and sommeliers in training.

The skills, education, and personal attributes needed to become a sommelier on cruise ships are the same as the skills needed for land-based positions. To become a sommelier, you will need to have a passion for wine, outstanding customer service skills, and sales skills. You must also be meticulous and a team player. Sommeliers must collaborate with the F&B manager, the executive head chef, the restaurant manager, serving staff, and sommeliers in training.

Although there are no set education requirements for sommeliers, you won’t get very far without outstanding credentials. The average sommelier has a culinary degree or a degree hospitality or other related field. They may also have a certificate or diploma from an organization or educational institution such as the International Sommelier Guild, the Wine and Spirits Education Trust or the Court of Master Sommeliers. According to BLS.gov, the Court of Masters Sommeliers’ advanced exam is the intermediate stage of a three-level process for becoming a aster Sommelier. The title of Master Sommelier is an elite designation held by only 112 sommeliers worldwide. Only 56 live in the U.S.

Sommeliers with credentials, experience, and the personal attributes necessary to become successful in the field can earn anywhere from $80,000-$160,000 per year. Entry-level sommeliers with very little experience may start at around $28,000.

To apply for a sommelier position on cruise ships, one of the best ways to go about it is to sign up with a placement agency. These positions are highly coveted, so you should leave the job search up to the professionals. To learn how to locate and sign up with a placement agency, read our article How to Choose a Placement Agency.

If you’re feeling particularly confident about your chances of securing a position on your own, feel free to apply directly to the cruise line of your choice. Visit the Ships and Cruises Directory for official cruise line listings and websites. Once you have located the official website of your favorite cruise line, visit the website and click the “careers,” “employment” or “work for us” tab. Most cruise line websites have a career center or job postings page in plain sight, so locating the tab should be easy. If the cruise line lists job openings, be sure to follow the application procedure to the letter. If the cruise line does not list job openings on its site, send a polished cover letter and resume to the cruise lines Human Resources Department. The Human Resources Department is typically located at the cruise lines headquarters. This information is usually listed on the cruise line website. It is important to include the position you are interested in so that it can be directed to the appropriate department manager.

Another option is Cruise Ship Jobs online. Here, you can download the 2010 cruise ship employment guide; you can read through cruise line profiles; you can find out which ships are hiring and for what positions. You can even apply for a cruise ship job right online. Please note that this website charges a fee.

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