What’s It Like to Work on a Cruise Ship?

About a week ago I came across an ebook that was written by one of my favourite travel bloggers Earl Baron (Wandering Earl), but more important than the book and what this post is going to be about is the subject of the book which I think is something a lot of people are going to be very interested in.

I've been on the road for almost 9 years now, tried my hand at more than 10 different jobs, all the while on the lookout for more so I can't believe I’ve never heard anything about this one! If I had, there is no doubt I'd have been applying right away.

The subject is working on cruise ships. And I really think this might be the perfect job for all those people stuck in their home countries, working their arses off motivated only by the hope that they can save enough money to travel more. As well as long term travellers like myself, or anyone who just wants to see 20 different countries while saving huge amounts of money! I know, that covers a lot of people!

Cruise ship at night
Photo by Alistair Young

So, what is it like to work on a cruise ship?

Basically what I learned from Wandering Earl's book was; you can work for a cruise ship doing just about any job you can do on land, have all your living expenses such as accommodation, food and health insurance completely paid for and therefore save around 90% of your wages. Most importantly get to spend your free time in a different country almost every single day! So of course, you can see why this had caught my interest!

Ok, it's not just a vacation... It's a job, and you have to work quite hard, but it's a job where you get to travel, A LOT! And as it's a job you get paid, also quite a lot.

Here are some of the positives and negatives.

I'll start with the negatives:

  • Hard work, you'll get to play hard with your fellow crew members but you'll also have to work very hard, often around 10 hours per day while dealing with the high expectations of passengers.
  • No full days off, rather you will be given half days off, usually while the ship is in port.
  • You have to wear a uniform every day.
  • Not much private space. You'll usually share a very small cabin with another crew member.

Now for the positives:

  • You get to wake up in a different country almost every single day and spend your free time on the beaches of the Caribbean, admiring the ancient pyramids of Egypt, or maybe exploring the romantic cities of Europe!
  • You'll meet, work and spend your free time with people just like you; young, fun and hungry for travel!
  • You can save huge amounts of money, most people earn and save around 1500-3000USD per month.
  • Unique work experiences.
  • Most cruise lines offer special crew facilities such as crew bar, gym, events and even free language or business courses.
  • Promotions are extremely common, most people are promoted once or even several times in their first contract.

Cruise in Norway Photo by eGuideTravel.com

Who can get a job on a cruise ship?

Well pretty much anyone! The only requirements are:

  • Good spoken English. You don't need to be a native but you should be able to converse in English without any problems for most positions on board.
  • Outgoing personality.
  • Good health.
  • No criminal record.

Of course having specific skills or experience such as working in bars/restaurants, working with children or language abilities will help you but they are really not necessary as long as you approach the company in the right way.

Cruise bartender Photo by Prayitno Hadinata

So how can you apply?

Applying for cruise ships is not quite as simple as applying for a normal job. So it is important to do your research before you start. As cruise ships usually hire 100s of crew each month they tend to get overwhelmed and be very unorganized with new applications. Each cruise line has a different preferred method of applying, but most will have a recruitment page on their website which will give you more information. Also it is important to consider which cruise line to apply for. This is where Earl's book comes in.

About Earl's book

Get paid to travel on a cruise ship. I actually purchased this book myself as I am looking for ways to cross the Atlantic next year after my big South America trip, and also because I thought it might be useful information to share with my lovely blog readers πŸ˜‰

The book is 176 pages long and goes through absolutely every single detail about working on a cruise; including what to put on your resume and cover letter, how to apply and follow up on applications, what to say in the interview and of course what life will be like after you get hired. I was really impressed by the amount of useful information Earl gives.

It also includes detailed information for almost every known cruise line, including how well they treat their crew members, as well as contact details and instructions on how to apply for them and job descriptions for 70 different positions that you can apply for, including their average wages to help you chose which cruise line, and which position is right for you.

So to anyone who is serious about working on a cruise ship, reading this book is definitely the way to get into it!

The book costs $25 but I think that is very cheap considering how much money you can make from working on board a cruise. It also has a 30 day money back guarantee, so if you don't like it for any reason at all you can simply mail Earl and he will give you a refund.

Click here for more information about working on a cruise ship


Have any questions about Earl’s book or working on cruise ships? Ask away! If Earl is not able to come by and answer them I will do my best to answer them myself.

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Posted in Money, Popular, Tips & Advice
19 comments on “What’s It Like to Work on a Cruise Ship?
  1. Musto says:

    Can anyone apply to work on a ship or only American and eu citizens?

    • Dan Norris says:

      Yes, anyone can work on a cruise. As long as your English is good enough to communicate with the passengers.

      If you are not a US citizen you will have to apply for a US marine visa but I believe the cruise line will handle all the papers for you.

  2. Nina Vaxanski says:

    Ill get one and hopefully meet you on the board.
    When I was kid, i had a dream to be a captain on the ship and cried when i was told, i couldnt achieve this, becouse it’s male’s job. Now I found out I can find something apropreate for me too. πŸ˜€
    Very nice post with a lot of usefull tips. Awesome. You inspired me πŸ™‚

  3. Ana Mohar says:

    Thank you so much for this info! I have been thinking and researching slowly how to work on a cruise ship since I’ve gone for a cruise on it (which was like 5 years ago)!
    Finally something structured and I love love you for posting this, I hope I get to work on a cruise ship in a few years’ time and I’ll be prepared by then thanks to you!

    • Dan Norris says:

      You are welcome Ana πŸ™‚ Though I think this post is just about what it would be like to work on one, the good and the bad. If you are serious you should really check out Earl’s book, it is definitely the most structured and informative guide around!

  4. Cruise Ship Job Vacancies Philippines says:

    Basically, just what the doctor orders. This is a one stop shop article for those who are interested in finding a job or career in the cruise ship. This is helpful and very informative. Thanks for sharing it brother πŸ™‚

  5. Neil says:

    I’m a Filipino (from Philippines) do they also accept people that are not from the US?

    I really want to travel and this seems a good opportunity for me.

    Thanks πŸ™‚

  6. behafte kahsay says:

    i want this job!!!!

  7. Ahmet says:

    great article and great ebook, thank you for sharing!

  8. Juan says:

    This is my dream.

  9. Fernando says:

    Hola,thaks a lot for the useful info.
    Can I apply for two diferentes positions at the same company?
    I am a massage therapist and worked for a while for P&O.Also have experience as assistant Waiter.
    The other thing is…Can I get the book in the Canary Islands? Thanks for ur help

    • Dan Norris says:

      Hi, sorry for the late reply. But yes you can apply for as many positions as you want, in fact Earl actually recommends this, but as I know most companies will only hire you for a single position at a time.

      And Earl’s book is digital so it can be purchased anywhere in the world πŸ˜‰

  10. Nchai Kuleile says:

    Dan man, I really love to work at the cruise ship. I need your advice.I am a Mosotho from Lesotho country in south Africa, aged 25 and completed my high school. I don’t know where to search or what to do. But next year I hope I find myself in a cruise ship somewhere. What do you subject or recommend I should do?

  11. Jacob says:

    Thanks for your candid review, seems like a great book for people looking to forge a career on the oceans πŸ™‚

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