There are a variety of positions that involve working on a cruise ship, such as cabin stewards and deckhands. If you’re interested in having one of these jobs, you might be wondering what it’s like to work on a cruise ship. Understanding the basic elements of working on a cruise ship can help you determine if this is the right work environment for you.
In this article, we provide detailed answers to some frequently asked questions about what working on a cruise ship is like.
What is working on a cruise ship like?
Working on a cruise ship often comes with a variety of unique aspects when compared to a traditional work environment. Cruise ship staff often receive a lot of training before preparing to work as full-time employees. Some cruise lines may require their employees to complete training programs that last for several months. After they complete their training period, employees usually sign a contract to work on the ship for a specific amount of time. These contracts may last up to nine months, where employees commit to working on the cruise ship until their contract ends.
Because of the variety of positions on a ship, working on a cruise may employees the opportunity to advance their careers. For example, you might begin working on a cruise as an assistant tour manager, then get promoted to a lead tour management position. The staff on a cruise ship often comes from diverse backgrounds. This allows employees to learn about different cultures and nationalities when working.
How much do cruise ship employees get paid?
Because of the wide variety of jobs available on a cruise ship, the specific salaries for cruise ship employees vary. For example, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary for water transportation workers is $59,250 per year. The BLS further specifies that captains, mates and pilots of water vessels earn $77,130 per year, while ship engineers make $75,990 per year. A cruise ship employee’s salary may depend on a variety of factors, such as:
Type of position: Cruise ships offer several positions, and each comes with a different salary. For example, employees in leadership roles may earn higher salaries than those in entry-level positions.
Experience: Your level of work experience may determine your salary. For example, staff members with more work experience and skills may earn high salaries when compared to those with less experience.
Cruise line: Each cruise line may have different standards for the wages it offers its employees. One cruise line might provide a different salary from another line for the same position.
Tips: Service workers like servers and bartenders often earn tips from guests on the ship. These gratuities add to their salaries, often making the actual wages for service positions higher than expected.
Do cruise ship employees live on the ship?
To complete their responsibilities, cruise ships require their employees to live on the boat. Most cruise lines offer their staff free room and board throughout the duration of their contracts. They often cover the costs of basic living expenses, such as water and electricity bills. This allows employees to travel wherever the ship goes, frequently visiting new countries during their free time. Each employee in the crew quarters may have one to three roommates.
Do cruise ship employees get free food?
A majority of cruise ship lines offer their employees free food throughout the duration of their contracts. There’s typically a special kitchen on the boat that prepares food for staff members. Employees may eat in separate dining areas, depending on their classifications. For example, there might be different mess halls for the ship’s officers, employees and crew.
Do cruise ship employees work normal hours?
Depending on their roles, cruise ship employees may work unusual hours. Staff members often expect to work around 12 hours a day, seven days a week. Some employees may work early in the morning, like those who prepare food, while others work late into the night, like bartenders and entertainers. Your work schedule might depend on the specific cruise line and your position.
What type of positions are available on a cruise ship?
Here are five positions that you might find on a cruise ship:
1. Food service worker
National average salary: $29,717 per year
Primary duties: Food service workers handle the preparation, storage and service of food and beverages for the guests on a cruise ship. These professionals also make food recommendations, help keep the kitchen clean and deliver food orders to guests. They might answer any questions a guest has about food or beverage options and ensure proper storage of food according to safety regulations.
National average salary: $31,957 per year
Primary duties: A deckhand helps with the preparation and maintenance of a cruise ship. These professionals are responsible for operating equipment, repairing machinery and loading and unloading cargo or luggage. They may relay important information to crew members and assist with watch-keeping duties. They typically use various ropes, knots, radios and navigational equipment when completing their tasks. Other duties might include assisting during emergencies and using safety equipment.
National average salary: $38,171 per year
Primary duties: Entertainers host live shows and performances for the guests on a cruise ship. These professionals may contribute to a variety of acts, such as singing, magical, comedic, dancing and musical performances. They often greet and interact with passengers and assist in activities and games. Other responsibilities might include offering dancing, singing or other instrumental lessons to guests and assisting with luggage delivery and pickup at the beginning or end of the cruise.
4. Crew member
National average salary: $40,454 per year
Primary duties: A cruise’s crew members are often responsible for the planned activities around the ship, such as pool parties, game shows, trivia and themed nights. These professionals may welcome guests during embarkation day and interact with them throughout the duration of the cruise. They help motivate, inform and entertain guests. Crew members usually have a variety of duties, depending on their specific roles. A crew member might work as a sailor, hairstylist, aerobic instructor, cosmetologist or massage therapist.
National average salary: $61,738 per year
Primary duties: The cruise’s captain navigates the ship and makes executive decisions regarding its operations. These professionals guarantee the safety of the passengers and crew during trips and delegate tasks to other crew members. They may answer questions from guests during the cruise’s journey and manage the loading and unloading of passengers. A cruise captain helps ensure that cruise employees follow safety and security procedures when completing their tasks.