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How Much Does A Bartender Make On A Cruise Ship


Modified: December 28, 2023

by Erda Roque



Working as a bartender on a cruise ship offers an exciting and unique opportunity to combine your love for travel with a passion for mixology. Not only does it allow you to see the world, but it also provides a chance to hone your bartending skills and interact with people from different backgrounds.


Cruise ships are floating cities that cater to thousands of passengers, making them a hub of entertainment, relaxation, and indulgence. As a bartender, you’ll find yourself in the heart of the action, serving up delicious cocktails and concoctions to guests as they enjoy their vacation.


In this article, we’ll delve into the world of bartending on cruise ships, exploring the factors that affect bartender salaries, the additional income opportunities available, and the perks and benefits that come with the job. We’ll also provide some tips on how to maximize your earnings and highlight the challenges and considerations that bartenders on cruise ships may face.


Whether you’re a seasoned bartender looking for a change of scenery or someone interested in starting a career in the hospitality industry, it’s important to understand the nuances of bartending on a cruise ship and what to expect in terms of compensation and lifestyle.


So, grab your shaker and join us as we set sail into the world of bartending on cruise ships!


Overview of Working as a Bartender on a Cruise Ship

Working as a bartender on a cruise ship is a dynamic and fast-paced experience that offers a unique blend of work and travel. As a bartender, you’ll be responsible for crafting and serving a wide range of beverages to passengers, including cocktails, mocktails, beers, wines, and spirits. Your role will involve creating an enjoyable and memorable drinking experience for guests while adhering to the ship’s policies and maintaining high standards of service.


One of the primary responsibilities of a cruise ship bartender is to ensure the smooth operation of the ship’s bars and lounges. You’ll work closely with the bar manager and other bartenders to take orders, prepare and serve drinks, handle cash transactions, and maintain cleanliness and organization behind the bar. Additionally, you may be involved in the inventory management and restocking of bar supplies.


Bartenders on cruise ships are part of a larger hospitality team that strives to deliver exceptional service to guests throughout their voyage. This entails providing recommendations, engaging in friendly conversations, and promoting various onboard activities and events. The work environment is fast-paced and demanding, requiring excellent time management, customer service, and multitasking skills.


While bartending on a cruise ship can be exciting, it also comes with its challenges. Long hours, a fast-paced work environment, and being away from home for extended periods can be demanding. However, the rewards of experiencing different cultures, meeting people from around the world, and exploring new destinations make it a thrilling and fulfilling experience.


In the next sections, we will dive into the factors influencing bartender salaries on cruise ships, explore the base salary structure, and shed light on the additional income opportunities available to bartenders. So, grab your cocktail shaker and let’s explore the fascinating world of bartending on cruise ships!


Factors Affecting Bartender Salaries on Cruise Ships

Several factors come into play when determining the salaries of bartenders on cruise ships. These factors can vary from cruise line to cruise line, but there are some common elements that influence the earnings of bartenders in this industry.


One of the key factors affecting bartender salaries on cruise ships is the level of experience. Typically, cruise lines offer different pay scales based on the number of years of experience a bartender has. Beginners or those with limited experience may start at a lower salary, while bartenders with several years of experience and a proven track record of excellence may command higher wages.


The cruise line itself also plays a significant role in determining bartender salaries. Different cruise lines have varying compensation structures and policies. Some cruise lines may offer higher base salaries but have stricter rules regarding tip pooling, which can impact the overall income. It’s essential to research and compare the compensation packages of different cruise lines before making a decision.


The destination and itinerary of the cruise ship can also affect bartender salaries. Certain regions or itineraries may attract more passengers willing to spend on beverages, resulting in higher bar sales and potentially higher tips. For example, cruises in popular vacation spots or with a focus on wine or spirits may offer greater earning potential for bartenders.


The size of the ship and its passenger capacity can also influence bartender salaries. Larger ships with more bars and lounges are likely to have higher bar sales, providing bartenders with more earning opportunities. Moreover, ships with a higher passenger capacity may require a larger team of bartenders, allowing for a greater share of tips.


Another factor that can impact bartender salaries is the cruise line’s policy on tip distribution. On some cruise lines, tips are automatically added to passengers’ bills and distributed among the crew, including bartenders. These gratuities can be a significant portion of a bartender’s income and can vary depending on factors such as the cruise duration and passenger spending habits.


Lastly, performance and guest satisfaction can also indirectly affect bartender salaries. Positive feedback from passengers can lead to higher earnings as guests are more likely to tip well for excellent service. Bartenders who consistently deliver exceptional customer experiences may also be considered for promotions or bonuses.


It’s crucial for aspiring cruise ship bartenders to understand these factors and their implications on salaries. Researching different cruise lines, understanding their compensation structures, and considering factors such as destination, ship size, and tip distribution policies can help bartenders make informed decisions about their career prospects in this exciting industry.


Base Salary for Bartenders on Cruise Ships

The base salary for bartenders on cruise ships can vary depending on factors such as cruise line, experience, and position. While the base salary may not be as high as what you would find at a land-based bartending job, the additional income opportunities and benefits make it an attractive career choice.


On average, the base salary for entry-level bartenders on cruise ships ranges from $1,200 to $1,500 per month. This amount may increase with years of experience and increasing responsibilities. Bartenders with several years of experience and a strong track record may earn between $1,500 and $2,500 per month.


It’s important to note that the base salary is just a starting point and doesn’t include the potential for additional income from tips and commissions. Cruise ship bartenders have the opportunity to earn a significant portion of their income through gratuities and other revenue-sharing programs.


Tips play a vital role in the overall earnings of cruise ship bartenders. While the specific policies may vary, it’s common for bartenders to participate in a tip pool, where tips are distributed among the bar and wait staff. The amount distributed to each crew member is typically based on their position and performance. The average tip income for bartenders on cruise ships can range from $1,000 to $4,000 or more per month, depending on factors such as the cruise line, itinerary, and passenger spending habits.


In addition to tips, bartenders on cruise ships may also have the opportunity to earn commissions from beverage sales. Some cruise lines incentivize bartenders to upsell premium beverages or participate in themed drink promotions. These commissions can significantly boost a bartender’s income, especially if they excel in sales and customer service.


Furthermore, the base salary and additional income mentioned above are just monetary compensations. Cruise ship bartenders also enjoy a wide range of benefits and perks, which further enhance the overall value of their employment. These benefits often include accommodations, meals, medical insurance, access to crew facilities, opportunities for career advancement, and the chance to explore various destinations while working.


While the base salary for bartenders on cruise ships may not be as high as some land-based positions, the potential for additional income, combined with the non-monetary benefits, make it an appealing prospect for those seeking an adventurous and rewarding career in bartending.


Additional Income Opportunities for Cruise Ship Bartenders

Beyond the base salary and tips, bartenders on cruise ships have various opportunities to earn additional income. These additional income sources can significantly boost their overall earnings and make their experience even more financially rewarding.


One of the primary additional income sources for cruise ship bartenders is the opportunity to participate in drink-related promotions and events. Cruise lines often organize special events like cocktail parties, themed nights, and mixology classes, where bartenders can showcase their skills and engage with passengers. These events may come with additional gratuities or bonuses, providing bartenders with a chance to earn extra income.


Furthermore, bartenders on cruise ships often have the opportunity to work in specialty bars or lounges, which cater to a specific type of beverage or ambiance. These venues may include wine bars, craft cocktail lounges, or even exclusive VIP bars. Working in these specialty areas can lead to higher tips and potentially higher base salaries, as passengers who frequent these bars tend to have a higher level of consumption and are more inclined to tip generously.


Additionally, bartenders may have the chance to take part in the ship’s beverage sales programs and promotions. Some cruise lines incentivize bartenders to upsell premium spirits, wine packages, or specialty cocktails. The commissions earned from these sales can significantly boost a bartender’s income, making it a win-win situation for both the cruise line and the bartender.


Private events and functions held on the cruise ship also present additional income opportunities for bartenders. These events may include weddings, corporate gatherings, or private parties, where bartenders can provide their services on a personal basis. Bartenders may have the chance to earn extra income from these events through service fees or gratuities directly from the guests.


Furthermore, some cruise lines offer incentive programs where bartenders can earn bonuses based on their sales performance, guest feedback, or maintaining high standards of service. These bonuses can be a significant source of additional income, encouraging bartenders to excel in their roles and deliver exceptional customer experiences.


It’s important to keep in mind that the availability and nature of these additional income opportunities may vary depending on the specific cruise line and its policies. Therefore, it’s essential for bartenders to familiarize themselves with their cruise line’s offerings and take full advantage of the opportunities that come their way.


By actively seeking and participating in these additional income opportunities, bartenders on cruise ships can significantly increase their overall earnings and make the most out of their time on board.


Benefits and Perks for Cruise Ship Bartenders

Beyond the financial aspects, working as a bartender on a cruise ship comes with a range of benefits and perks that can enhance both the professional and personal aspects of your life. These incentives make the job even more enticing for individuals seeking a unique and rewarding career experience.


One of the significant perks of working as a bartender on a cruise ship is the opportunity to travel and explore different destinations worldwide. As a crew member, you’ll have the chance to visit various ports of call and experience different cultures, landmarks, and attractions. This can be an enriching and eye-opening experience that allows you to broaden your horizons and create lasting memories.


In addition to travel, cruise ship bartenders often enjoy the benefit of accommodation and meals provided by the ship. Instead of worrying about finding housing or dealing with meal preparations, you’ll have access to crew cabins and dedicated dining areas. This convenience saves bartenders both time and money, allowing them to fully focus on their work and enjoy their downtime.


Cruise lines also offer medical insurance coverage to their employees, including bartenders. This ensures that you have access to healthcare services while working on board and provides peace of mind in the event of an illness or injury. The coverage may vary depending on the cruise line, so it’s important to familiarize yourself with the details of the policy.


Living and working on a cruise ship also means access to a range of amenities and facilities designed for crew members’ enjoyment. Cruise ships often have crew bars, lounges, and recreational areas where you can socialize, relax, and engage in various activities during your time off. These spaces foster camaraderie and allow you to build meaningful connections with your colleagues from different backgrounds.


Another benefit for cruise ship bartenders is the potential for career growth and advancement. Working on a cruise ship provides valuable experience and an opportunity to develop your skills in a fast-paced and international environment. By demonstrating exceptional performance and commitment, there may be opportunities to move up the ranks and take on more senior or specialized roles in the beverage department or other areas of hospitality.


Additionally, cruise ship companies often organize crew events, parties, and activities throughout the voyage. These events are designed to show appreciation for the hard work and dedication of the crew members. They provide an opportunity to unwind, have fun, and foster a sense of community among the crew.


It’s important to note that the benefits and perks mentioned above can vary depending on the cruise line and your specific employment contract. Before embarking on your journey as a cruise ship bartender, it’s essential to familiarize yourself with the details of the benefits package provided by the cruise line.


Overall, the combination of travel opportunities, accommodation and meals, medical insurance, access to crew facilities, career growth potential, and crew events make working as a bartender on a cruise ship an appealing and rewarding experience.


Tips for Maximizing Earnings as a Bartender on a Cruise Ship

Working as a bartender on a cruise ship provides ample opportunities to maximize your earnings and make the most out of your time on board. Here are some tips to help you increase your income and enhance your financial success:

  1. Provide exceptional customer service: Delivering top-notch service can lead to higher tips and guest satisfaction. Stay attentive, engage with passengers, and go the extra mile to make their experience memorable.
  2. Upsell premium beverages: Familiarize yourself with the ship’s beverage offerings and promote higher-priced options to guests. Upselling can increase your beverage sales and commissions.
  3. Participate in specialty events and promotions: Take advantage of opportunities to work at specialty bars or during events like cocktail parties and mixology classes. These can come with additional gratuities or bonuses.
  4. Showcase your skills and creativity: Bartending is as much about the art of mixology as it is about service. Impress guests with unique cocktails and personalized recommendations to make your service stand out.
  5. Build rapport with passengers: Establishing a rapport with guests can lead to repeat business and higher tips. Remember their preferences and engage in friendly conversations to create a welcoming atmosphere.
  6. Stay updated with the latest trends: Keep yourself informed about the latest cocktail trends and popular beverages. Offering trendy and innovative options can attract guests and increase sales.
  7. Network with other crew members: Establish connections with crew members from other departments, including entertainment, guest services, and dining. They can refer guests to your bar and vice versa, boosting your customer base.
  8. Take advantage of training and development opportunities: Expand your knowledge and skills through training programs and workshops offered by the cruise line. This can increase your value as a bartender and potentially lead to promotions.
  9. Utilize social media and online platforms: Promote your skills and the bar’s offerings through social media platforms popular among guests. This can attract new customers and create buzz around your bartending skills.
  10. Seek feedback and continuously improve: Actively seek feedback from guests and supervisors to identify areas for improvement. Strive to consistently enhance your bartending skills and provide excellent service.

By implementing these tips, you can optimize your earnings as a bartender on a cruise ship and create a successful and financially rewarding experience.


Challenges and Considerations for Bartenders on Cruise Ships

While working as a bartender on a cruise ship can be an exciting and fulfilling experience, it’s important to be aware of the challenges and considerations that come with the job. Understanding and preparing for these factors can help you navigate your career more effectively:

  1. Long working hours: Bartenders on cruise ships often work long and irregular hours. The demands of the job may require you to work late nights, early mornings, and weekends. Be prepared for the physical and mental challenges of maintaining a demanding work schedule.
  2. Fast-paced and high-pressure environment: Cruise ship bars can be fast-paced and demanding, especially during peak periods. Bartenders must be able to handle high volumes of orders, multitask efficiently, and work well under pressure.
  3. Being away from home and loved ones: Contracts on cruise ships can last for several months, which means being away from family and friends for extended periods. It’s essential to consider the impact this can have on your personal life and relationships.
  4. Cultural differences and language barriers: Cruise ships have diverse crew and passenger populations. It’s important to adapt to different cultures and languages, as you’ll be interacting with people from various backgrounds on a daily basis.
  5. Living in limited space: Crew members on cruise ships typically have shared accommodations, which means living in close quarters with colleagues. This requires adaptability, respect for personal space, and effective communication skills.
  6. Adapting to shipboard policies and regulations: Each cruise line has its own policies and regulations that bartenders must adhere to. These can include rules regarding service, guest interactions, uniform code, and behavior. It’s crucial to familiarize yourself with and follow these policies to maintain a professional and harmonious working environment.
  7. Dealing with difficult guests: While the majority of guests are friendly and appreciative, there may be instances where you encounter challenging or rude individuals. Developing effective communication and conflict resolution skills can help navigate such situations professionally and maintain a positive work environment.
  8. Limited time for personal exploration: Although you’ll have the opportunity to visit various destinations, your work schedule may limit the time available for personal exploration. Balancing work commitments with personal time requires effective time management.
  9. Physical demands: Bartending on a cruise ship can be physically demanding. Tasks such as lifting heavy cases of beverages, standing for long periods, and repetitive motions can take a toll on your body. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle, including regular exercise and proper nutrition, is vital.
  10. Isolation and homesickness: It’s natural to experience moments of homesickness and a sense of isolation while working on a cruise ship. However, building relationships with fellow crew members, engaging in onboard activities, and staying connected with loved ones through technology can help alleviate these feelings.

Understanding these challenges and considerations is essential when considering a career as a bartender on a cruise ship. By being prepared and resilient, you can overcome these challenges and make the most out of your experience on board.



Working as a bartender on a cruise ship offers a unique and rewarding experience that combines the excitement of travel with the artistry of mixology. While the base salary for bartenders on cruise ships may not be as high as some land-based positions, the additional income opportunities, benefits, and perks make it an enticing career choice.


Factors such as experience, cruise line policies, and destination can impact bartender salaries on cruise ships. However, the potential for additional income through tips, commissions, and promotions can significantly enhance earning potential. Bartenders have the opportunity to showcase their skills, provide exceptional service, upsell premium beverages, and participate in specialty events to maximize their income.


Beyond financial aspects, working as a bartender on a cruise ship offers a range of benefits and perks. These include the chance to travel and explore different destinations, access to accommodations and meals, medical insurance coverage, and access to crew facilities and activities. The opportunity for career growth and the camaraderie developed among crew members further contribute to the overall appeal of the job.


However, it’s important to consider the challenges that come with the job, such as long working hours, being away from home for extended periods, adapting to diverse cultures, and living in limited space. By understanding and preparing for these challenges, bartenders can navigate their career successfully and maintain job satisfaction.


In conclusion, working as a bartender on a cruise ship can be an exciting and fulfilling career choice for those passionate about mixology and travel. With careful consideration of the factors influencing income, maximizing earning opportunities, and understanding the challenges involved, bartenders can embark on a financially rewarding and culturally enriching journey on the high seas.