After three and a half years of cruising the world, mainly on the Queen Elizabeth 2, I ended up traveling to over fifty countries and six continents around the world. If you’ve ever wondered how to get a job on a cruise ship, then keep reading so I can share with you the secrets on how to do the exact same thing.
Many people wonder what it’s like working on a cruise ship and are even more curious how to get a job on one. You might be thinking it’s like an insider’s secret! In a way it is, but it won’t be when you finish reading this article. My first job on a cruise ship came when a cruise employment agent contacted a friend of mine who was unavailable to work, so my friend told him to contact me and the rest is history. I’ve also got jobs for several friends who ended up traveling the world, but for the people who don’t know me, it’s okay because I’ll show you how to do the same thing in a different way.
Here is exactly how it works. For every department on a ship, there is someone who oversees that department. That person reports to someone on land in the corporate offices for the cruise ship company, whether it is Princess, Royal Caribbean or Carnival. Now here’s the hooker. That person in corporate works with an agency or contractor that hires people by qualifying them before come aboard the cruise ship. This is what happens 70% of the time. 20% are hired through the companies that are on-board contractors. These can be the on-board shops, art auctioneers, photographers or other third party revenue vendors. The other 10% are people who contact the cruise ships directly for certain positions such as Sales Specialists, Printers, Disk Jockeys and people who have jobs that only involve one or a few people.
When people are hired through an agency, there’s a fee that’s paid by either the cruise ship or the employer. Usually this fee is paid by the cruise ship. It’s a way to hire a third party Human Resources to take care of all the logistics and coordinate with the corporate office and employers on-board. This only makes sense because there are many logistics of hiring, ticketing and travel guidelines. From there, the third party agent or administrative assistant from the corporate office will be just a phone call away for anything you need until you join.
There are plenty of jobs to choose from with the amount of ships at sea nowadays. For instance, one cruiseline will have more “entertainment” jobs, as to where another ship may have more “hotel services” positions available for you to choose from. Obviously you’ll be working, but you’ll also be traveling. To get days off in ports and spend as much time ashore as possible, work out schedules with your fellow co-workers. You may be thinking that sounds like a daunting task, but trust me, it’s no biggie and takes about thirty seconds before everyone is happy. If you work in certain departments, like the entertainment department, your department gets to make your own schedule. Other departments, like casinos and shops aren’t allowed to work while in port (not a bad job to have)!
If you can, try to get a job on a ship that has a big fleet or that has alot of destinations. When I was with Premiere Cruise Lines, I transferred cruise Lines three times in four months, so instead of going to just two countries, I went to ten. Another example is Princess Cruise Lines, which has several ships that all follow a similar protocal throughout. That way, crew can transfer from one ship to another with ease and confidence.
You would be quite suprised to see how many resources and agencies can help you get a job on a cruise ship. You’re probably thinking, “How would I get a job out of the thousands of people who apply?”
Okay, here’s the secret. Those thousands of people you’re thinking about are thinking the same thing, so they don’t even apply! You wouldn’t believe the shortage of staff cruise ships companies always have. If there isn’t a job immediately, one will open up within three months because that is how the contracts work out with multiple ships. There was NEVER a day when all the jobs were filled in ANY department. Department heads are ALWAYS asking the agencies if they have found anyone to fill the position. In many cases, positions don’t even get filled! Many crew have to EXTEND their contracts because the agencies can’t find the right people, because everyone is wondering, ” There must be several people who would get the job before me,” or they just simply don’t know the people to contact.
Many people ask me everyday how to get a job on a cruise ship, after all, I achieved my dreams by twenty-four and have seen several others do the same. What I always tell people is simple. Get a database and resource guide so you can contact these hiring agencies and corporate offices directly. From all the resource guides I’ve seen, nothing compares to the one I came across awhile ago, which was Neil Maxwell Key’s resource site. He used to travel the world on cruise ships as well, but took it a step further to gather all the resources anybody could need to get a cruise ship job.
If you’re looking to do what only your friends and family dream of, then go get a cruise ship job. People are fascinated by the concept and will always be asking you what it’s like traveling the world and getting paid for it.