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Is there a feasible way to take a one year break from a IT job and work as a crew member on a big ship?
How can one go about this?
I am a recreational sailor and know intermediate sailing, coastal navigation, radio handling and all that stuff. I think this could be the experience of a life time.
Where should I look? I imagine getting it would be hard since obviously this is a lucrative job.

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What country are you from? Can you be more specific in the question? –  VMAtm Aug 23 '11 at 15:31
    
I am in Canada. Looking to take a one yr break from work and maybe work on board a crusie/cargo ship as a galley member. Not expecting pay, just the experience of being on the seas. –  Kaushik Aug 23 '11 at 15:32
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What a great travel question! –  hippietrail Aug 23 '11 at 18:30
    
Not sure if this is what you are looking for, but I had a couple buddies who hung around their nearest freight port until a barge took them in. –  Ginamin Aug 24 '11 at 1:12
    
Thanks. What do you mean 'hung around'? :) –  Kaushik Aug 24 '11 at 14:44
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2 Answers 2

up vote 7 down vote accepted

"Big ships" (e.g. cruise ships), have very specific needs. Your chances of getting a job with one of them soar if you can meet one of those needs.

"Recreational sailor" probably doesn't "cut it" in this regard. Sailing ships need professionals.

Most ships have computer and internet services. Your best shot may be at an IT role, but there may be more applicants than places. If you have hardware maintenance experience and are handy with tools (you're sailing experience suggests you are), you might be able to land a job in general maintenance. If you have an "esoteric" science backround (e.g. in electrical engineering), that could be helpful.

Otherwise, you'd need to get job in some form of "customer service." This could be manning the booking desks, or even cleaning rooms or "waitstaffing." Make it clear that you expect very little pay, just "room and board" and some walking around money. You will be competing for these roles with candidates from developing countries.

As for contact, I'd stay away from the agencies, which have their own interests and not yours. Most of the shipping lines like to recruit at key ports (not in the U.S.). Vancouver comes to mind for a Canadian. Otherwise London, Amsterdam, Hamburg, Hong Kong. Maybe somewhere off the beaten track such as Gdansk or Oslo.

Good luck.

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A friend signed on as "IT" for a cruise ship, and it mostly consisted of showing the customers how to use email. And it's hard work. –  DJClayworth Sep 26 '11 at 21:26
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You have a couple of options, one easier than the other.

A site like http://www.findacrew.net/ posts jobs all the time for smaller boats / yachts. These roles are less likely to be IT roles, but you never know.

Secondly, cruise ship jobs are almost always through agents like http://www.cruiseshipjob.com/ - it looks easy and simple but it's really hard to get responses (I was after an identical role a few years back, gave up in the end).

Actually, 3rd option as well - you can apply directly to the ship companies themselves, IF they have a careers page. For example, Carnival Cruise Lines has http://www.cclcareers.com/ for their online job listings. They used to have a section with interviews with IT guys about their time on board which was fascinating reading, but I can't find it off hand now. Long story short, pester, try all lines of communication, and with a bit of luck you may get in. Let me know how if you do ;)

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Thank you Mark. Those are great suggestions. –  Kaushik Aug 23 '11 at 16:56
    
What other roles do you think you can do except IT since it is hard to get IT role? Just a curiosity... –  Kaushik Aug 23 '11 at 17:05
    
Well I was looking at photography at the time, but there's even chef, burser, passenger liaison and more. Spend some time reading the careers pages on these ships and you find there are all sorts of crazy roles - these are basically floating cities, even hairdressers are required! –  Mark Mayo Aug 23 '11 at 17:25
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Sounds like a way to go! Thanks sir...sorry mate! –  Kaushik Aug 23 '11 at 17:27
    
You are right: cruiseshipjob.com does look simple –  Kaushik Aug 23 '11 at 18:50
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