Working on Cruise Ships FAQs

So, you’ve finally landed your dream job aboard a cruise ship, but you still have many questions about life on board. Don’t sweat it. The most commonly asked questions are pretty easy to answer, so continue reading to find out about medical benefits, accommodations, meals, and more.

Do I need a passport or a visa?
Yes. If you’re looking for a cruise ship job, you should apply now. It takes 21 days to process a passport application. If you do not live near a U.S. passport office, visit your local post office, which will process your application. You will need proof of U.S. citizenship, proof of identity, two photographs, and the required fees. The cost for first time applicants is $95 for an adult passport book + card.

Who pays for plane tickets to and from the ship?
The cruise line makes all travel arrangements. If you resign before the end of your trip or you are fired, getting home will be your own responsibility.

How long are the contracts?
Contracts vary according to the job you do and the department you are assigned. For example, contracts may be from 6-10 months for waiters and waitresses and indefinitely for captain and engineering positions.

Do I need a medical exam?
Yes. Before you work on any ship, you will have to show proof of a clean bill of health.

Is there medical on board?
Yes! Medical care while onboard is free of charge for all employees. A doctor and nurse are available to see you at any time.

Will I be sharing a cabin?
It is very likely that you will be sharing a cabin with one other crewmember. Only a few people get to enjoy a single cabin. And you guessed it — these lucky few are usually responsible for running the ship. Fortunately, most cabins on new ships are comfortable and they include a bathroom. On older ships, crewmembers usually share a bathroom.

Can I receive mail?
You can send mail from any port at any tome, but receiving mail might be tricky. The crew purser will give you an itinerary of the ports you will be visiting and the port agents mailing address in each location. If you would like to receive mail, fax a copy of the addresses and your itinerary to your family, friends, and whomever else needs to send mail to you.

Where will I be eating my meals?
You will eat your meals in the staff of officer’s dining room. You may also eat at the passengers breakfast and lunch buffets.

Can I make or receive phone calls?
Yes, but it will cost you. Check with your cell phone provider to see what they can do for you. If you cannot receive service while at sea, you can make a satellite call from the ship for $6 to $10 per minute. If you want to save money, purchase a phone card and make your calls from public phones in port. The cost for calls within the U.S. is roughly $0.20 per minute or so and international rates vary.

Are their laundry facilities onboard?
Yes. All large cruise ships have laundry facilities. Crewmembers may do their own laundry or have the ships laundry service do it for a fee. Uniforms are cleaned for free.

Do I have to wear a uniform?
It depends on the position. But more than likely, you will be required to wear a uniform that will be provided by the cruise line.

Can I use the public/passenger areas?
Cruise staff, pursers, concessions, and casino staff usually have access to all passenger areas. In general, passengers come first, so if you are at a bar or restaurant and seating is limited, you will have to make other plans.

Am I allowed to get off at every port?
If your work schedule allows, yes you may get off at port. If you work in concessions, your area will be closed while in port. This will give you an opportunity to see everything at each port.

How many days a week do I work?
Passengers are onboard at all times. As a result, just about everyone on the ship works seven days a week.

Are there any age restrictions to working on a ship?
Cruise ships do not discriminate. As long as you are physically fit (for safety reasons) and qualified to do your job, age is not an issue.

Am I allowed to have guests on the ship?
Immediate family members may be allowed to travel at reduced rates on a space available basis. Certain positions allow guests that are not family members. If you are in port and you would like a guest to come onboard, just ask permission from your immediate supervisor. Each cruise line has its own policies, so inquire within before your first day at work.

Will I get Seasick?
This is one of the most often asked questions by both passengers and employees. The answer varies according to each individual’s health, experience at sea, tolerance levels, etc. Because cruise ships are so large and the seas are usually calm during cruise season, you should not feel the motion of the ship. If you do feel queasy for some reason, get some fresh air. Walk around. This is called “getting your sea legs.” Also, crackers help as well as ginger ale. If nothing works, the ship pharmacy or sundries store will have Dramamine and/or Bonnie. Dramamine may make you drowsy and Bonnie works best if you take it before you sail.

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