There are literally hundreds of different jobs on cruise ships. Each job has its own requirements, perks, and salary. For example, waiters on cruise ships receive a salary plus tips, while captains and other individuals in top positions receive free, private accommodations instead of shared. To become a waiter, a degree is not necessary, but you must have several years experience in a restaurant or working on cruise ships. Captains, on the other hand, typically have an advanced degree in a field such as engineering, they may have a military background as well, and they rarely have less than 7-10 years of experience in the field.
While the requirements for the many different jobs on cruise ships can vary greatly, there are several skills that can be extremely useful no matter what the position may be. Most cruise lines will not frown upon individuals without cruise experience, however, applicants with cruise experience tend to have more opportunities that those without. Another skill that cruise lines appreciate is knowledge of a second language.
Not only do cruise employees have to work with people from all over the world that speak dozens of different languages, they also have to tend to the needs of passengers from all over the world and navigate various ports, cities, and islands around the world. Cruise lines prefer to hire applicants with knowledge of Spanish, Italian, German, French, and of course, English. This is especially the case for pursers that must converse in all major languages and Directors of Marine Personnel that have to communicate with employees that speak all languages. It is not uncommon to find pursers and directors that speak more than 2 languages.
If you would like to learn a second language or two, try starting with Spanish and working your way to Italian, then French. You can take language courses at just about any community college, specialty school, language center or 4-year college or university. If you’re computer savvy, you can also purchase language learning software such as Rosetta Stone, Transparent Language, Tellmemore, Instant Immersion, Fluenz, or Declan.
If you are planning to begin you search for a cruise job soon, you should begin Spanish, Italian or other language instruction as soon as possible. According to Spanish Online by Stacey Tipton (www.spanish.bz), “in 2 or 3 months of seriously studying a language most people can be at least conversant. Fluency can take anywhere from 6 months to years, depending on the person. The best advice I can give a Spanish student is to try to find people to actually speak with at least once a week – and don’t be afraid of making mistakes! The best language students are always the ones who jump right in and learn by trial and error.” Good luck!