There are several bar positions available on cruise ships including bartender, barback, cocktail servers and bar manager. To become a bartender on cruise ships, you must have a minimum of three years experience behind the bar at a restaurant, club, pub, or lounge and you must also have experience working on cruise ships. Cruise ship experience is flexible, meaning, cocktail server experience may be acceptable or waiter experience may be ok. Experience behind the bar on cruise ships is always best, but as long as you have experience behind the bar in any establishment, you have a chance at a position. Same deal with barbacks and cocktail servers. The more experience you have in your chosen area (on land or at sea) the better, but cruise experience certainly helps.
Bar managers must have even more experience. Bartender and (bar manager) positions are among the most sought after jobs on the ship. Not only are bartenders and bar manager’s part of the most festive environment on the ship, they make a handsome salary plus tips. With tips, bartenders can earn anywhere from $1,700-$2,400+ per month. Bar managers, on the other hand, earn anywhere from $3,000 per month on the low end up to an impressive $3,800+ per month on the high end. Cocktail servers earn $1,400-$2,200 per month (including tips) and barbacks (bar utility workers) earn $600-$900 per month including tips. In addition to competitive salaries, bar staff members receive free air travel to and from the ship, free accommodations, health insurance, and retirement benefits.
Bar managers must know all there is to know about bartending, but they must also have a background in management, accounting skills, and computer skills. Bar managers are responsible for all bar operations including scheduling, ordering supplies and beverages, meeting with vendors, accounting, scheduling, and supervising staff. It is not uncommon for top earning bar managers to have a degree in hospitality or related field, or even business management. It is entirely possible to work your way up from bartender to bar manager, but this route typically takes years to navigate.
Bartenders, bar managers, cocktail servers, and barbacks are in the “Service and Hospitality Department” on ships. Also called the Hotel Management Department, the Service and Hospitality Department is home to Hotel Managers, Cabin Stewards/Stewardesses, Accountants, Executive Chefs, Wine Stewards, Chief Pursers, Purser Staff, Bellman, and Pastry Chefs. Besides bar manager, most service positions earn a significant amount of extra income from tips.
If you are interested in becoming a bar staff member on cruise ships, you should begin your search for a position by picking a cruise line (or two). Once you have a specific cruise line in mind, locate the cruise lines’ OFFICIAL website. Visit the Ships and Cruises Directory for official listings. Visit the cruise lines’ website and search around for job postings. Most cruise line websites have a career center or job postings page. If the cruise line lists job openings, be sure to follow the application procedure to the letter. Applicants that do not follow directions are typically passed over in favor of those that do.
If the cruise line does not have job openings on its site (which is unlikely), 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.
For more information about jobs on cruise ships visit 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 — and you can even apply for a cruise ship job right online. Please note that this website charges a fee. You can apply for a job on your own, free of charge, sign up with a placement agency, or use Cruise Ship Jobs’ service.