Cruisin' for a Career: What's It Like to Work On a Cruise Ship?

Written by
Rebecca Smith

Oct 5, 2018

Oct 5, 2018 • by Rebecca Smith

When you go on a cruise, it's an amazing time full of fun, relaxation, and lots of food. The North American cruise industry has raked in around $27.22 billion over the years, and it's no surprise why.

Cruising is fun - it's the perfect getaway trip where you can relax on a giant ship and forget about your worries. But what about the people working there?

Working on a cruise ship is very different than taking a vacation on one. Workers are on duty for long hours and have to keep cruisers happy. But, it has a reputation for being a total party-fest off hours.

Thinking about working on a cruise ship? Here, we'll be discussing exactly what the experience is like. Let's jump on board and find out!

Working on a Cruise Ship: What's It Like?

If you've ever worked service or hospitality jobs, joining a cruise ship crew could be perfect for you. Whether you're going on a cruise or looking to join the crew, there are a few cruise tips you should know.

Thinking of taking the leap to work on a cruise ship? Here a few things you need to know.

1. The Hours are Long

Once they've embarked, cruise ships don't have closing hours. They are running 24/7, and the staff needs to work long hours too.

Sometimes, crew members aren't allowed to get off the ship when it stops at ports. Many of them work for months at a time without even one day off. It's not uncommon for crew members to work 70-hour weeks.

The only remedy for working hard is playing hard, which leads us on to our second point...

2. The Parties are Crazy

It's not a myth that cruise workers party hard - it's true they go crazy with their parties. Sure, they spend a lot of time working, but in their off hours, they go nuts.

While passengers are sleeping, there is always a raging party for the crew to attend. Even if things go awry, they know how to handle it. Somehow, they manage to sober up in the morning and work all day like nothing happened. Must be cruise ship magic!

3. There's a Lot of Training

If you're new to the cruise ship game, there's a lot of training to get through. It can last for up to 13 weeks and consists of practical and classroom classes!

During training, workers will take part in group exercises, role-play, and individual tasks. They're trained in catering and hospitality courses. This ensures that they're well equipped for the ship.

It takes a long time, but if you enjoy it and are good at it, it makes it easier to get cruise ship jobs in the future.

4. Everyone's Hooking Up

Something to know about working on a cruise ship is that everyone is hooking up. There's always talk of an affair between workers or one-night flings.

But it's not all seedy. Sometimes love does bloom and meaningful relationships form on board. People from all around the world meet on the ship, and it's unsurprising that a lot of them get along very well.

5. You'll See the World

The best part of working on a cruise ship is that you get to see the world. Cruise ships go to all corners of the world and you can visit some of the most amazing places.

While you sometimes won't be able to get off at ports, most of the time you will. You can visit different continents and do things you never thought you would.

Even though you have to work hard, being able to travel as a lifestyle makes it all worth it.

6. The Money is Good

Cruise workers get paid a lot for the work they put in. They often get paid in cash too!

You can earn up to $4,000 per month, and you don't have to pay any bills or utilities. You may not have to even pay tax since you're earning money on international waters. But make sure to check with your country of origin if you do become a cruise ship worker.

7. There are Crew Only Areas

Some ships have areas which are completely separate from the rest of the ship. They contain their own stores, gyms, restaurants, and bars. Everything is pretty cheap and you can grab a beer for only $1.50!

Cruise ship workers also don't eat the same food as the passengers. It's not as wonderful as the food for passengers, but it's cheap and not too bad.

8. They Have Long Contracts

Not only are the hours long, but the contracts are too. These contracts can last anywhere between 2 to 9 months, sometimes longer.

With longer contracts, workers can choose to get 6-8 week breaks to go home or travel. Workers can take this time halfway through their contract, but many do it all at once. Any contract shorter doesn't come with any holiday time.

If you want to do this job, you have to be okay with being away from home for a long, long time.

9. There are a Lot of Different Jobs

Working on a cruise ship isn't only for service or catering jobs. There are a lot of different things you can do on board.

You can work as a bartender or work in restaurants as a chef. You can make your hobby into a career if you're a creative type. You can become a singer, musician, or dancer.

If you've got a good attitude and some talent, a career on a cruise ship can be a great way to get your career started.

10. The Crew Will Become Your Family

When you're away from your family and friends for months on end, you need to find new ones. You'll become close to your colleagues and they'll feel more like family.

It can be strange sometimes though. You can spend months and months being very close to your crew. Then one day, you leave to join a new ship and may never see them again.

You can make friends from all around the world, and it's a rewarding experience.

Working on a Cruise Ship: Is It For You?

Now that you know what it's like working on a cruise ship, do you have what it takes? It can be a tough job with long hours, and you can get pretty homesick. But it can also be a rewarding experience where you can kick-start your career and make some serious cash.

Find this useful? Check out our blog for more great career advice!