For passengers, cruise holidays offer beautiful scenery, comfortable living quarters and luxuries such as spas, casinos and endless entertainment. There are cruise lines designed for families seeking action-packed activities, couples on a romantic getaway and pensioners looking to relax and see the world.

This said, part of what makes a cruise holiday so special for passengers is the ship’s staff. In fact, for those who choose to work in the cruise industry, it can offer an extremely rewarding career path – one which combines round the world travel with a fantastic, social experience and the chance to really make people smile on holiday! What could be better?

So if you’re contemplating a cruise job but don’t know where to start, we’ve put together a short guide on the kinds of jobs available, and the best way to get into a career in cruise…

Boat Staff

To keep such a massive ship in excellent mechanical shape requires a lot of specialised attention. Engineers, officers and, of course, the ship’s captain all take on leadership roles on board. These men and women are responsible for making decisions regarding steering, docking and any safety issues that may arise. Day to day, engineers will fix small mechanical problems, ensuring the trip goes ahead smoothly.

However, if you don’t have an engineering qualification, you can still gain experience working on a cruise as a crew member by applying for an Ordinary Seaman position. This entry level position will allow you to learn the ins and outs of the ship, including deck maintenance, handling the ropes and participating in lifeboat drills.

Food and Drink

The food and beverage industry on board a cruise ship is immense. There are often multiple restaurants, cafes, bars, and even nightclubs scattered throughout the ship’s many levels, giving passengers option upon option of where to dine and drink and job seekers dozens of options of where to work.

Bartenders, servers, baristas and hostesses will interact closely with the clientele while dishwashers, chefs and sous chefs remain behind the scenes. These positions will range in their requirements, from little to no previous experience up to chefs who’ve been awarded Michelin stars. A number of cruise lines, including Silversea and Oceania, have earned rave reviews for their food and drink.

Entertainment Staff

Cruise ship entertainment includes almost anything you could think of, including theatre shows, casinos, fitness classes, comedy shows, musical performances and on-board and on-shore activities like history and culture lectures and scuba diving.

As a result, there are specialised jobs for the likes of comedians, actors and yoga instructors as well as positions that require simply a good attitude and hard work ethic, including spa receptionist or stage assistant. For actors who really like to get involved in their roles, consider applying to be a character on a Disney Cruise Line ship. It’d be pretty amazing to include ‘Goofy’ on your CV!


Finally, for cruise ships to operate smoothly, they require a number of office-based employees, including accountants, marketing managers, guest relations officers and general office employees. Trained medical staff jobs are also available so if you’ve got the necessary qualifications, consider trading in your hospital scrubs for a sea-worthy substitute.

Tips on getting a job in cruise

With so many jobs available on board a cruise, all you have to do is choose the one that’s right for you. Many do not require you to have worked on a cruise ship per say, but simply have similar experience, whether that’s being a theatre stage hand or a bar tender on land. You will however, need to demonstrate enthusiasm for the hospitality industry, whatever position you’re going for, as the ship needs to function as one big team to succeed in giving guests the brilliant holiday experience they’re expecting.

Cruise jobs tend to be in high demand, so you will need to think about what sets you apart from the rest. Maybe you’ve worked as a travel rep before, or organised entertainment at your local club? Whatever job you go for, the cruise industry is a fantastic opportunity for anyone who’s ever wanted to see the world – and get paid to do so!

Featured images by Royal Caribbean. Other images by James Williams and Stan Shebs, used under Creative Commons licence.

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