So, you finally landed the cruise job of your dreams, but the cruise line wants you to sign a contract. All cruise lines and agents (should) issue a contract before your first day on the job. If the agent or line does not issue a contract, it’s probably a good idea to request some sort of written agreement before you begin working. This is a way to protect yourself with regard to issues such as taxes, compensation, transport, and expenses. Your contract will be renewed each time you return from leave. But whether it’s your first time signing the contract or your second, or third renewal, you should always verify information, ask questons, and read the fine print — twice!
If your contract is not available for review before you board the ship, make it your number one priority before getting settled in (if at all possible). You can also request a fax or email copy well before your first day on the job. For starters, check the time length of the contract to make sure you are covered for the duration of your trip or trips. While most contracts are between 4-12 months, some may last only 2 months and others may last only a few weeks. These types of contracts are typically used for cruise lines that typically offer weekend cruises, and cruises that last a week or less.
After verifying the length of the contract, there are a number of questions you should ask if they are not covered in your contract. The contract should cover transport. Find out if the cruise line will cover transport to the ship or if you will have to pay for it on your own. You should also find out if oyu will be responsible for making your own flight arrangements or if the line will make the arrangements for you. The next area to cover is uniforms. If your position requires a uniform, ask if you will have to purchase your own uniform. This is one of the areas that will likely be covered in the contract. In addition to uniforms, some positions may require special equipment. Photographers will need a camera, chef’s may need special knives, and hostesses may need special attire such as an evening dress. Some cruise lines cover these items, others may not.
The most important area to be clear on is compensation. This will include insurance, taxes, commissions, food, and accommodations. If not already covered in your contract, you should ask the followng questions:
Do you provide insurance (health, personal items, etc.)?
Will my earnings be subject to tax deductions?
Am I liable for my own tax declarations?
Do I have to pay taxes on my commission?
How often will I get paid? Is payment via check or direct deposit?
Do you cover food and accommodations or are they deducted from my pay?
After you have verified the terms of the contract, you should double check to make sure the cruise line has a clear understanding of your availability. Let them know if you are available on short notice. In many cases, a cruise line will request that you work a trip at the last minute. The good news is, these trips are usually to an exciting destination, like Waikiki!