How to apply for a cruise ship job?

This is a question I receive quite often now…. Now that everyone get impressed by all the places I can see in a few months… Now that they know my work environment, my salary, my benefits…

So… How can you start a wonderful like the one I live?! (Yep I’m proud of what I do, can’t you guess? 😉 )

“Well, you’re HR, I am pretty sure you can help me, right…?”

Mmmh… If you think about giving me your resume and I will hire you because I know you… You’re wrong. The cruise industry has a very specific hiring process. For most of the jobs, the companies don’t hire directly. Simply because they are keen to hire people from all over the world and they don’t have/need offices everywhere. Also because they are not the experts on all local labor markets. So they partner with manning offices or recruitment agencies that will do the job for them.

Sending me your resume won’t help at all, as I am not an external recruiter. I only deal with internal applications.

Check online and find the closest hiring agency in your country. The official agencies are given by the cruise line companies only! If someone approaches you and you can’t find the name of the company on the cruise lines’ website, then… Abort ! Abort ! It’s a scam.

However, I can give you a few tips on how to maximize your chances to be recruited!

Global Advice

– Develop your English language skills. The cruise industry is an international world. Except for a few cruise lines, all use the English language as default. Prepare yourself to understand English with many different accents! Don’t expect to hear the British or American accent only.

– Work hard on land. If you never worked on different shifts: Days/Nights, Weekdays/Weekends, Long hours, etc., you will be completely overwhelmed. Working on a cruise ship is hard. Very hard. You work minimum 10 hours per day and you don’t have any day off. Don’t apply if you are not ready.

– You are open-minded! I don’t offer the choice actually. You must be open-minded. You will work and live with more than 50 nationalities onboard and even more different cultures. A cruise ship is a mix of so many different ways of living. Filipinos, Indians, Indonesians, Ukrainians, British, Italians, etc. Strong and large communities are onboard. You will travel without going out of the ship! Just by talking to your mates.

– Don’t judge. Because of the reason I gave you just before. People have their own culture. If you are surprised about one practice or a way of living, ask! Be curious. But do not judge. Do not think people are weird because they do things, or think, differently. Don’t think you are superior for these reasons. You will get a lot of trouble. And it’s a stupid thought because you’re not.

– Basic… Look online! There is plenty of websites that will give you job descriptions, testimonies, etc. An extensive research will help you to get prepared. Also to know if cruise ship life is not for you.

– If you have a tattoo, do not lie or hide it. Some companies allow them, others allow the tattoos that are hidden by the uniforms and some companies authorize them. Check the companies’ policies. They always display them.

Deck/Marine Department

crew open deck cruise ship

– On a cruise ship, you are responsible for the ship of course, but also for a huge number of souls! Passengers and crew. Cruise lines like candidates with extensive experience on cargos or in the Navy, so they are sure you know the job and you are confident. The cruise industry is observed by the media and a mistake is… not acceptable! An incident with a container ship is one thing… A sinking cruise ship with 5000 souls onboard is another one. I am pretty sure you remember the recent story in Italy…

– You will stay most of the time on the bridge and won’t see the passengers. However, you will see some of them, on the bridge during a visit or a tour, or around the ship during a round, or just if you go to eat in one restaurant or go to the gym.
Remember that the passengers are very curious and they will stop you and ask a lot of questions about your position. So if you don’t want to talk to people, smile and share your experience, then I strongly advise you to apply for a cargo ship…

Technical/Engineering Department

propulsors cruise ship

– Same as the Deck department, experience is appreciated. Cargos, Navy, Oil & Gas industry as well. A blackout or an engine issue on a cargo ship might just create a delay in the delivery of thousands of products. A cruise ship with no power in the middle of the sea might be a different issue. Remember the recent incident in Norway when hundreds of passengers needed to be evacuated by helicopters…

– Depending on your job, you will mainly work in crew only areas or the Engine Room. So under the sea level. With no natural light. This is also something to consider if you are an “outside” person.

Hotel Department

atrium cruise ship princess

– The requirements are high! Well, depending on the cruise line of course. You directly deal with the passengers. You give the good impression and create the amazing vacation experience. The most luxurious and selective cruise lines will expect that you meet the highest standards before even starting your contract. If you don’t want to start at the lowest level I suggest you gain experience in hotels. Especially 4 or 5-star hotels. Luxury resorts as well.

– Prepare your positive attitude and your smile. They will be more powerful than your experience. We can train you about the job and the specific skills onboard but we can’t change your personality. Grumpy crew members leave bad impressions to the passengers who won’t hesitate to complain. The cruise lines don’t like grumpy crew members… If it’s not natural to smile and you apply just for the money, you won’t stay very long on the ship.
Keep this thing in mind at all time as this is very important! If you don’t smile and bring a nice experience to the guests, the company will find a position at the back of the house. You won’t face the guests. Meaning you won’t receive any tip!!!! You will feel the change on your salary, believe me. It won’t be worth it anymore to work on a ship.

– Your personal appearance will also make a difference. You will need to respect a strict dress code. 1 mistake and you will pay for it.

– English language skills will be more than necessary. I am not talking about speaking a few words. You need to be fluent.
Speaking additional languages will be a huge asset as well!

– Be prepared to share your experiences with the passengers. They are really curious about the crew members’ life onboard. They’ll ask a lot of questions about the crew areas, cabins, uniforms, salary, benefits, travels, etc.

Here we go! You obtained your diplomas and certificates. You speak English very well. You meet the requirements of your dream job. Now it’s time to apply.

Depending on your location, I strongly advise to meet the recruiters at a job fair. You will be able to ask a lot of questions. Recruiters always took the time to answer all my questions and to talk about their cruise experience. This is not like the traditional job fairs, recruiters will take the time with each candidate.

If you can’t go to a job fair, then go to the cruise line companies’ websites and apply directly to the recruitment agencies. The agencies will help you to create your resume, to be prepared for the interviews, etc.

And of course, you can always ask your questions, I’ll be happy to help 😉
Here’s a little tip to start your research: allcruisejobs

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Kevin Written by:

Kevin 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.

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