Working on a Cruise Ship: What’s It Like and What Do I Need?


If you only look at the description of a role on a company’s website, then many cruise ship jobs may seem no different than their onshore counterparts. However, the reality of working and living as a waiter or receptionist on a cruise is much different than in a normal restaurant or hotel. 

Before pursuing a cruise line career, it will help you understand that difference.

What is it like to work on a cruise ship?

Working on a cruise ship is much different than any other hospitality job. If you work at a hotel or in a restaurant on shore, you are able to go home and sleep in your own bed at the end of the day. When you’re hundreds of miles away from land, that isn’t an option. The cruise ship becomes your home and your workplace while you are on board. 

You must be ready to be away from your friends, family, and the comforts of home for long periods of time. Luckily we live in an era where it is much easier to stay in contact with your loved ones. During off hours you can utilize the ship’s WiFi connection to call or video chat the people you love back home. 

The working hours on a cruise ship can be stressful as well. You should be prepared to work every day of the week while you are at sea. This requires a certain level of mental strength but also physical health and fitness to be able to stay active and on your feet every day.

And, if you’re someone who easily gets sea-sick, a cruise ship job may not be the right choice for you.

What do you need to work for a cruise operator?

Due to the nature of their business cruise operators have a different set of requirements than traditional hospitality employers. Depending on the cruise ship you work for, the specifics may be different but there are some general requirements that apply across the sector.

To work on a cruise ship you must be 18 or 21 years old, depending on the company or role. You must have all necessary documents such as a valid passport, the required visa or work permit, and a basic safety training certificate. In addition, you need to pass a medical exam and a criminal background check before a company will hire you. Most cruise companies will also require a certain level of fluency in foreign languages, especially English.

The skills you need to work on a cruise ship are similar to those in the rest of hospitality. You should be customer service oriented, love interacting with people, and work well as part of a team. More than any other hospitality setting, cruise line staff are truly like a family as they all live together on board. That means it’s more important than ever that you’re able to get along and work well with your colleagues.

How do you get a job with a cruise line?

After two years of extremely reduced activity due to the pandemic, cruise operators are seeing a sharp increase in demand. Many cruise companies are currently looking for staff for the upcoming season so it’s a great time to get your start in the sector. 

You can find these jobs either directly on a cruise line’s website or through the jobs listings on platforms like Hosco. No matter how you apply, you’ll need to submit a CV and a cover letter selling yourself to the hiring manager.

Cruise ships have many different departments, including entertainment, wellness, housekeeping, and F&B. There are also jobs from the entry level up through management. No matter what type of background you have, you’re likely to find a position that fits your profile.

While many roles will require prior experience in the hospitality or cruise industry, there are some that don’t. Entry level cruise ship jobs that require no experience include dishwashers, cleaning staff, laundry attendants, and maintenance roles.

If it’s your dream to build your career while traveling around the world on the open seas, check out the cruise ship jobs available on Hosco today!



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