One of the most common questions asked about working on cruise ships is, “Can I just work on a cruise ship for the summer?” The answer is: Absolutely! Cruise ships have hundreds of opportunities for short-term, holiday, and summer employees. Some cruise ships hire employees for a period of six to nine months with two months off, while others hire staff for special holiday cruises and peak sailings through winter and spring. Even doctors and nurses on cruise ships can find year-round employment or assignments as short at two-three months. The peak hiring times for positions such as youth counselors are holidays and summer, so students and teachers that love to travel can spend their spare time working on cruise ships!
Before we tell you how to apply for jobs on cruise ships, take a second to learn about the different departments on cruise ships to see just where you might fit in. Jobs on cruise ships will fall under several categories: Activity/Entertainment Department, Deck & Engineering Department, Service & Hospitality Department, Personal Care Department, and Office Positions.
Jobs on cruise ships in the Activity/Entertainment department are considered some of the most glamorous jobs aboard the ship. These positions deal with anything relating to passenger entertainment. This department includes: DJs, Production Managers, Photographers, Managers, Casino Staff, Host/Hostess, and Cruise Consultant, to name a few. Those best suited for jobs in this department are typically enthusiastic and extroverted.
The Deck & Engineering Department is one of the most important departments on the vessel –without it the ship would never set sail. This department is responsible for maintaining and running the vessel. Please note that the positions in this department are not typically entry-level positions, especially on large ships. The department consists of deckhands, maintenance workers, engineers, and officers. These positions help to motor or sail the ship, attend to the physical maintenance needs of the ship, and keep it in accordance with fleet regulations and international maritime laws. Officers are in charge of passenger safety as well.
Staff members in the Service/Hospitality Department or Hotel Management Department have the responsibility of managing the bars & restaurants and passenger cabins, as well as shipboard retail concessions like gift shops. Just a few Service/Hospitality positions include: Hotel Manager, Cabin Stewards/Stewardesses, Accountant, Executive Chef, Wine Steward, Chief Purser, Purser Staff, Chief Purser, Bellman, Pastry Chef and the list goes on and on. Most service positions such as bartenders, waiters, and cocktail servers can earn a good amount of extra money from tips.
No cruise would be complete without a department devoted to helping passengers pamper themselves. The Personal Care Department includes spa, fitness, beauty, and medical services. It helps manage hair stylists, manicurists, massage therapists, fitness instructors, beauty therapists, spa attendants, nurses and physicians all dedicated to the well-being of passengers.
Most office positions are onshore — employees typically work in the main office performing administrative tasks, arranging cruises, or performing general office tasks. Office positions generally fall under the following categories:
- Air Operations
When you are ready to apply for a summer, seasonal, or holiday cruise job,
Pick a cruise line and visit the cruise lines’ OFFICIAL website first. Visit the Ships and Cruises Directory for official cruise line web addresses. Visit the 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 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.
If you prefer to sign up with a placement agency, please take a look at our article: How to Choose a Placement Agency.
Cruise Ship Job Perks
Cruise ship employees will enjoy more than free travel to exciting destinations. Cruise ship employees receive free accommodations and meals. They also receive a competitive salary, health insurance, and free air travel to and from the ship.