For Which Cruise Line Should I Apply?

So… You read my previous post about how to apply for a cruise ship job and now you can see on the job descriptions that there is a looooot of companies on the market…!

You know what competencies you need to apply and the process you must follow… But you don’t know which company is the best!

DO NOT PANIC! I will reassure you right now… There is no perfect or best company. All have their rules, standards, values, culture, etc. This is what you need to look for to identify the companies you like or dislike.

So… Ocean? River? Mainstream? Premium? Luxury? Ultra-Luxury? Small? Expedition? Oops, that’s a lot, huh?

Costa? Cunard? Princess? Disney? Carnival? Azamara? Aida? Royal Caribbean? Seabourn? Silversea? Viking?

Ok, ok, I stop now. I think you understand that….You clearly have the choice.

If you want to go on holidays, you must chose of course. Price, activities, destinations… But for a crew member the ships’ facilities and activities are not really important… Because you won’t enjoy them. 
So what are the criteria for a crew member??? How could you differenciate the cruise lines?

Well, basically, exactly like you chose a company you would like to work for… With a few extras 😉

Global Advice

When you apply for a company on land, you look for specific criteria and it really depends on you. Your needs, your expectations, your plans, your future. So, you will check the company values, the career path, the jobs available, the products and services, etc. And you apply when you like what you read 😉

Regarding the cruise lines, crew members are really active on social media. You will get a lot of information from them. 

However, be extremely careful when you read comments on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. In all organisations, you will find happy employees and grumpy employees… Always take a step back if you ask questions to crew members on social media. Not everything is true 😉

Specific Advice for Cruise Lines

If you read my blog for a while now, you noticed that when I talk about cruise ships and cruise lines, I always talk about a specific environment and all differences we have onboard. So, obviously, you can check a few things to help making your choice. Once again, they really depends on you and your expectations.


If you work in the Galley…. They won’t be a criteria, I guess 😉
However, if you work as a Waiter/Waitress, it will be interesting to check the restaurants.
If you are a Dancer, check the theater.
Etc. Etc. I think you understood.
These will be your work environment, so it is good to check them and see if you going to love working in the venues for 11 hours each day! All cruise lines advertise many pictures and videos of their different venues as they want to attract customers of course.

Contract lengh

There could be a difference for the same position between different cruise lines.
If you have a 6-month contract, you will earn more money than a 4-month contract in a year period, but you will be away from your family 2 extra months. Up to you.


If the dress code and your appearance are important to you, then you can check the uniforms that you will wear for your position.
If you apply for an Officer position, then you will probably be in white all day. Usually, all cruise lines give the white uniforms to officers. The main difference will be the evening uniform and the uniform for the Formal nights.

Please take this criteria very seriously. Uniforms are very important for the cruise lines and this is not a detail for them. Uniforms define the standards. It must be perfect, at all times.

Size of ships

If you start your career, I strongly recommand to try to start on a small ship or old ship.

From my experience, big and recent ships are very nice: cabins, venues, etc. Everything is still new. More things to do, etc. The temptation to start on this kind of ship is high, but, trust me, don’t do it if you have the opportunity.
Big and recent ships have a different dynamic if you compare them to the old and small ones. Simply because they do not have the same expectations from the customers and the Head Office!

High pressure is usually common on these ships as they have difficult targets to reach.

I don’t recommand to start on these ships and to get some experience on old and charming ships 🙂


I also recommand to check this one if you are not starting your first contract. If you think you will stop at each port and have a lot of free time to visit, you’re wrong.
Your first contract will be exhausting and you will stay onboard quite often to rest instead of going out just a few hours.

After 2-3 contracts, then it could be interesting for you to check the itineraries and, maybe, choose a different cruise line.

Don’t be a fool… Regarding your nationality you will need a visa or seaman’s book to travel in some countries. Not so many cruise lines will provide visas for you. You will need to do it during your vacation time. If you don’t have the expected visa then you won’t be hired or assigned to specific ships.

Benefits & Onboard Privilegies

The benefits will be hard to find online, except on social media if a crew member share them with you. Once again, be careful on what you find on social media. There might be lies and, also, benefits are different regarding the rank and the positions.

The onboard privilegies are also different regarding the rank (rating, staff, officer – and also different between officers regarding your stripes): access to the restaurants, spa, salon, theater, pools, etc.


Mmmmh. I talk about the salary only now. Why??? The salary is pretty much the same for the same position between the different cruise lines. And, for your first contract, just think about the experience 😉 Starting salaries are pretty much the same.

Very Important Notice

Now that you have some few things to check, I would like to tell you something really important.

Even if you start with a cruise line that doesn’t perfectly match your expectations, or, on the contrary you start with your dream job, I have to tell you that all ships are floating business units. Even if they belong to specific companies, the atmosphere and the dynamic on each ship is very different and unique! They totally depend on the ship’s management: Captain, Chief Engineer, Hotel Director and Staff Captain.
The entire ship will rely on how these Managers work together.

So, if you start with a very nice ship, or as we call it: a “happy ship”, where everyone is happy and work in very good conditions, it could be very different on your next assignment on a different ship, even if you stay within the same company.
And of course, the same rule applies if your first experience is a disaster. A happy ship might be waiting for you for your next contract.


Voila! I hope this post helped you a little bit. Just remember that for your first experience, the company doesn’t matter. Each ship is different and has its own atmosphere. Gain your experience and then you will be able to be more picky and to chose what you really want and need. Good luck!


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The author is a cruise ship officer and loves travelling around the world. He started the expatriation adventure in 2016. He is passionate about learning new cultures, about local food & beer. *Disclaimer: Opinions expressed are solely my own and do not express the views or opinions of my current employer or my previous employers*

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