Yes, I'm perfectly aware that a Google search has lots of sites that offer stories about getting work on a cruise ship.

However, a lot of these are trying to sell you books or videos on how to do this, or sign you up to a list. There's a reason: it's seemingly hard to do!

I've tried every couple of years since I was in university, without success. I've even emailed companies directly. Other sites say not to do this, but I've tried lots. As a travel addict, it seems like the perfect way to see more while working, and having limited expenses for 6 months to a year.

What I'm after is someone who has personally succeeded in getting a job on a cruise ship, and how they do this. Step by step. I'm mostly interested in the Caribbean but at this point I'd take anywhere.

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    First, are you qualifies on any job that can be done on board a ship? Commented Jun 7, 2012 at 1:49
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    crud, yes, I'd meant to add that as a comment. IT qualified and have done tech support. Have some wedding photographer experience (stressful as heck tho), and have worked in restaurants at a ski resort, and customer service too. Also worked as a bouncer there once, but I'm really not built for that ;)
    – Mark Mayo
    Commented Jun 7, 2012 at 2:12
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    maybe you are over qualified ;) Commented Jun 7, 2012 at 2:13
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    I think that a job on a cruisehip is much more a back-breaking work than an opportunity to visit the world. The staff does not necessarily follow the guest when they ashore. However, such a job can be a great experience for yourself. You have to get along with plenty of people from all over the world on a very restricted space.
    – user766
    Commented Jun 7, 2012 at 6:34
  • Agreed, which is the appeal. My understanding from everything I'd read is that it's long, hard hours, 7 days a week. There are opportunities to look around when in port as well.
    – Mark Mayo
    Commented Jun 7, 2012 at 7:10

2 Answers 2


I've been working on cruise ships for three years and I can say that getting a job on a cruise ship is not that hard. First of all let me tell you more on what is it to work on a cruise ship. If you want to be able to get off the ship while you are in port you have to consider one of the following positions:

  • casino dealer/slot attendant/casino cashier (casino is not working until the ship sails and is 3 miles within the sea, so you'll be able to go on shore and see everything)
  • duty free sales personnel (same as the casino, although the money is not as good)
  • photographer (nice job, but most of the time you have to work while in port and will not have enough time)
  • entertainment staff (one of the good positions, lots of fun, but hard to get as you'll need to be a good dancer or singer)
  • shore excursions (probably the best for you, as you will be in charge with organizing the excursions on the best sight-seeings and travel locations, thus you will go for free, but keep in mind that you will be responsible for all the passengers in you group and you will not have the freedom to do whatever you want)
  • Internet manager (you mentioned that you are IT qualified, so it will be easy for you to get the job. It is a good position, as it is a manager position. You get your own cabin and enough free time to go on shore, but will not be able to go for long on every port, as usually you are the only person in your department).
  • other positions (there are some positions as Fitness instructor, child care jobs, beauty and SPA jobs, Audio-Visual Operator, golf instructor, sommelier, auctioneer, etc.)

All of the positions mentioned are STAFF positions. Remember that this is what you want to be working on the cruise ships. Apart from the CREW positions, STAFF positions have more free time, better cabins, some privileges, they are allowed to go everywhere on the ship, while off duty and so on. CREW positions are most of the positions in the restaurants, cabin stewards, food and beverage department, etc. They work hard, make less money (with some exceptions) and don't get go on shore most of the time.

Keep in mind that working on cruise ships is not easy, as usually you work 10-12 hours a day with 2-3 days off per month. You share a small cabin with another person you never met before and the money is not that good. On the other side you don't pay for accommodation, food, utility bills and taxes. Also most of the ships are cruising in the Caribbean, some are going to Alaska and Hawaii and the rest are in Europe (Baltic and Mediterranean) and Asia. So if you get a ship in say Caribbean you'll most probably stay there for the rest of the contract (usually 6 months) and will be seeing 10 or 15 same ports (except if you get lucky and they send you to Europe).

Now getting a job is different for each position and each company you are applying for. It depends also which country you live in, but all of the information you need is on the cruise companies web sites. I suggest you start with the biggest: Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Princess, Holland America, Celebrity, Costa, MSC. For some of the positions like the ones in the SPA and duty free shops you will have to apply in a different site as those are usually concessionaires owned. Also bear in mind that you should not pay any fees for getting a job except for medical exams, visa and most probably your first ticket to the ship.

I hope that helps you, but if you have any questions, don't hesitate to ask.

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    fantastic answer. Some questions. I'm on a NZ (or South African) passport. Are there visa requirements and if so, is it to the parent company's country, or the countries you're visiting?
    – Mark Mayo
    Commented Jun 13, 2012 at 20:36
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    Also, what are the medical checks - do you know anyone rejected for these? I have ... some issues, but I'm stable and certainly fine to travel and work hard - I travel a lot :)
    – Mark Mayo
    Commented Jun 13, 2012 at 20:37
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    The visa you'll need depends on the countries you are about to visit with the ship. Most of the time you will only need American C1/D visa (seamen visa) just to get to the states and join the ship and will not need any more visas. If you are going to Europe or Asia you will need more visas, but the company that hires you will advise you and most of the time help you with the documents you will need. Medical exams usually include blood and urine tests and usually cost around USD 150.00 If you are healthy there is no reason to be rejected. Commented Jun 14, 2012 at 8:01
  • And would you just send your CV to each company, or did you use an agency?
    – Mark Mayo
    Commented Nov 25, 2014 at 4:41

May be Sixth Star is what you are looking for. In the referred page you can see what they offer (they literally say "We provide low cost cruises to experts and professionals in a wide range of areas" so these are not 24/7 works, so you can enjoy the rest of the cruise for a low fee).

I have not experience with them, but a friend some years ago asked to join them. They ask for references and he gave my address (we worked in the same project in the past). A girl wrote me an email asking about the work my friend did and after some weeks they decided to accept him. Unfortunatelly he couldn't travel the dates offered so I cannot give you any feedback about cruise itself.

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