If you found inspiration in our recent summary of 20 jobs that let you travel the world, and wonder what it’s really like to travel on a cruise ship – this article by a cruise ship entertainer* is for you!
Having a job that allows you to wake in a different country or city every day sounds like a dream for any travel addict – and it’s a reality for crew members working on cruise ships. These ships are like moving miniature cities where you get to meet people from all over the world, while being all over the world (and getting paid for it too). Food, electricity, medical costs, rent, gyms and travel amongst other things are free for employees. It is a very comfortable lifestyle; an ideal way to transition into location independence without jumping entirely into insecurity. The people you meet will become your family, and the experiences you have will blow your mind.
Crew members come in every age group, nationality and from diverse cultural backgrounds. They all have different hopes, dreams, abilities and work responsibilities, so not every crew member will share their opinion or experience with me. Being a 28-year-old, whose ultimate dream was to get paid for traveling, things are working really well. But that doesn’t mean working on a cruise ship is always easy!
Working on a Cruise Ship: Getting Started
There are many ways you can apply for a cruise ship job. All the cruise line’s official websites have a “work with us/career” button somewhere, so you can check their job offers and send in your portfolio, videos or attend their auditions. There are also cruise line hiring agencies in different countries, specialized in certain positions. Be aware though to never give them money! Real hiring agencies are supposed to be free, so research them before committing to anything just to make sure they are not a scam.
The best part about working on a cruise ship is that it requires so many job positions to make it work that you will almost always find a job that matches your experience, abilities and talents (accountants, gardeners, ice sculptors, lecturers, carpenters, doctors, hair stylists, magicians…) Alongside the experience you have, if you are fluent in English, are healthy and have no criminal records you are pretty much a suitable candidate. Most importantly, if you have a bubbly personality, I can almost tell you to start packing your bags right away!
Now, it depends on your job, but many positions require consistent contact with guests. There are many different types of guests so you have to be prepared for everything. Having good customer service values is a survival skill, and it’s essential here.
Social interaction in the workplace changes radically. You are not supposed to fraternize with the guests, and dating your work mates and drinking with your boss on land is officially frowned upon when you are a crew member, although in reality it’s actually very common and invariably great!
Working on a Cruise Ship: Reality Check
Being a crew member involves a HUGE amount of sacrifice and this is why not everyone accepts or continues with these jobs. Contracts usually last from 6 to 10 months. Your shoreside social life moves on without you and even if the fun of dating comes in the form of an international menu, the chance of finding someone who is up for a formal relationship can be even more sparse than if you were on land.
Prepare to work hard: most crew members do not get days off. During a debarkation/embarkation day, it is very normal that you work for around 12 hours. Part of your job is crowd control, safety and reacting to any type of emergencies, so expect tons of trainings and safety drills that sometime will block – without warning – your plans to enjoy your free time on port.
Sharing is another deal breaker for some. Unless you are in a very high management position, it’s common to be placed in a cabin with 2-4 people, sharing a bathroom. And while some of them will be lovely, others… not so much. There is always that risk.
In terms of salary, mine is several times better than any job I could get in my country. For other nationalities it is way less than the minimum wage. Think about whether you’re really in it for the money.
It can get from very glamorous to very hard at times. One day you will be waiting for an show, drinking champagne at the Sydney Opera House with the cute drummer from the ship’s cover band. The next morning you might be paying US$12 for a can of soda to get the wi-fi password for a crappy internet connection at the only bar on the island. If you think you could manage that then you might have what it takes!
By now you may have figured out that working on a cruise ship has its pros and cons; it’s a prime example of that typical love/hate relationship with a career.
However, I am super happy to work on a cruise ship and would not change all the places it has taken me, the experiences, the opportunities or my ‘ship family’ for anything in the world!
Would you apply to work on a cruise ship?
* Views and opinions expressed by the author do not reflect the views of her employer.
This is a guest post by Kryziz.
Kryziz is always traveling around the world taking pictures. Follow her instagram at @kryziz.