What’s it like to Work on a Cruise Ship?


A leisure cruise is among the most popular categories of holidays today. Board a ship with a few hundred (or a few thousand) other tourists, and you’ll be whisked away to a slew of exotic destinations – and you’ll get a chance to enjoy a range of onboard activities, too.

Modern cruise breaks needn’t involve traveling great distances. You can embark onto a cruise ship in Southampton and enjoy a tour of the UK’s gorgeous coastline, taking in the island from an entirely new perspective.

If the idea of ​​frequent travel and life at sea appeals, you might seek a career on a cruise ship. But before you do so, it’s worth taking stock of some of the upsides and downsides that such a lifestyle might serve up.

Working on a cruise ship and traveling the world

For those who want to see the world, a cruise ship can seem a tantalizing prospect. You’ll be traveling from one port to another, and spending a lot of your time looking out at the open, boundless sea. In this sense, the experience is quite different from, say, working in air travel, where you won’t really get a chance to see many of the cities you’re traveling to, beyond the confines of the airport and your hotel.

Living on the ship

The good news is that your accommodation on a cruise ship is already paid for. So, in practice, you’ll spend much of your working life in pure profit. This makes it extremely easy to save money for when you decide to put an end to your career.

There are, of course, strings attached. The quality of your accommodation might vary considerably from ship to ship, and you’ll often need to share a living space with colleagues. If you make friends easily, then this might not be such a big deal; if you don’t, it might be intolerable.

working hours

You can expect to work long, often difficult hours on the ship. You won’t get much in the way of time off – and, in practice, you might find yourself working even when you’re not technically supposed to be. It might also be tricky to strike a work-life balance since you’ll be in your place of work for six, or perhaps even nine months uninterrupted. Homesickness can be a problem, especially if you haven’t spent much time at sea before.

Jobs you can expect to find on board

A cruise ship can function only with the help of many different kinds of professionals. Let’s consider a few of them.

Cruise ship patrons will expect to be entertained. This might mean musicians, magicians, comedians, or just about anything else. There is also the staff who make amenities like cinemas and swimming pools work correctly.

Medical staff are also a necessity. If someone suddenly suffers a heart attack in the middle of the sea, then a doctor will need to be available. Cruise ship doctors are in high demand, and supply is fairly low – meaning that the wages are often very attractive.

We shouldn’t forget that this is a complex piece of floating machinery. Like any other sea vessel, it will need hands on deck – and in the engine room. If you have experience, perhaps garnered during a stint in the Navy, it might come in handy here.

Finally, we should consider the catering staff in bars, restaurants and kitchens. It’s easy to get a foot in the door, but expect to work long, tough hours.


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