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How Is It Working On A Cruise Ship


Modified: December 28, 2023

by Anna Boling



Working on a cruise ship can be a dream come true for those seeking adventure, travel, and a unique working experience. Imagine waking up to stunning ocean views, traveling to different ports around the world, and meeting people from various cultures — all while getting paid! However, this glamorous and exciting lifestyle comes with its own set of challenges and sacrifices.


In this article, we will explore the pros and cons of working on a cruise ship, the job opportunities available, the typical work schedule, housing and living conditions, meals and food options, salary and benefits, health and safety regulations, entertainment facilities for crew members, and the cultural exchange and travel opportunities that come with working on a cruise ship.


Working on a cruise ship is not your typical 9-to-5 job. It requires a sense of adventure, adaptability, and a passion for serving others. Whether you’re considering a career in the hospitality industry, entertainment, or any other field, working on a cruise ship can offer a unique and fulfilling experience that will broaden your horizons.


Pros of Working on a Cruise Ship

Working on a cruise ship can offer a multitude of benefits and advantages. Here are some of the pros of working on a cruise ship:

  • Travel Opportunities: One of the biggest perks of working on a cruise ship is the opportunity to travel to different destinations around the world. From the sandy beaches of the Caribbean to the breathtaking fjords of Alaska, working on a cruise ship allows you to explore new places and experience different cultures.
  • Unique Work Environment: Cruise ships are like floating cities, providing a diverse and dynamic work environment. From the bustling restaurants and bars to the luxurious spas and entertainment venues, there is never a dull moment on board. You’ll have the chance to work with people from various countries and backgrounds, expanding your horizons and forming lifelong friendships.
  • Competitive Salary and Benefits: Cruise ship jobs often come with attractive salary packages, including accommodations, meals, and insurance. Additionally, many cruise lines offer opportunities for career advancement and professional development, allowing you to grow and excel in your chosen field.
  • Opportunity to Save Money: Since accommodations and meals are provided on board, working on a cruise ship offers the opportunity to save a significant portion of your earnings. Without major expenses like rent or utilities, you can save up for future endeavors or goals.
  • Diverse Job Opportunities: Cruise ships require a wide range of professionals, from chefs and bartenders to engineers and entertainers. Whether you have experience in hospitality, customer service, or even healthcare, there are likely job opportunities that match your skills and interests.

Overall, working on a cruise ship combines adventure, travel, and the opportunity to meet fascinating individuals from around the world. It offers a unique and rewarding work experience that can enrich your personal and professional life.


Cons of Working on a Cruise Ship

While there are many advantages to working on a cruise ship, it’s important to acknowledge the potential downsides and challenges that come with the job. Here are some of the cons of working on a cruise ship:

  • Long Working Hours: Working on a cruise ship often involves long hours and demanding schedules. Depending on your position, you may be required to work seven days a week for several months at a time. This can lead to exhaustion and limited personal time.
  • Isolation and Homesickness: Living and working on a cruise ship can be isolating, especially for those who crave a sense of stability or have strong connections to their home and loved ones. Being away from family and friends for extended periods of time can lead to feelings of homesickness.
  • Limited Personal Space: Crew members on a cruise ship typically have small cabin accommodations, shared with one or more colleagues. The lack of privacy and personal space can be challenging for some individuals, especially if they are used to living alone or in larger living quarters.
  • Seasickness and Motion Discomfort: The constant motion of a cruise ship can cause seasickness and motion discomfort, especially for those who are prone to motion sickness. This can make it difficult to perform daily tasks and can impact overall well-being.
  • Work-Life Balance: Maintaining a healthy work-life balance can be a challenge on a cruise ship. With long working hours and limited time off, finding time to relax, recharge, and engage in personal activities can be difficult.

It’s important to carefully consider these factors and weigh them against the benefits before deciding to work on a cruise ship. While the experience can be rewarding in many ways, it’s essential to be aware of the potential challenges and make an informed decision.


Job Opportunities on a Cruise Ship

Working on a cruise ship offers a wide range of job opportunities across various departments. Whether you have experience in hospitality, entertainment, administration, or technical fields, there’s likely a role that suits your skills and interests. Here are some common job opportunities on a cruise ship:

  • Food and Beverage: From chefs and kitchen staff to waiters and bartenders, the food and beverage department plays a crucial role in ensuring guests have a memorable dining experience onboard.
  • Guest Services: Guest service positions, such as receptionists or concierge, are responsible for attending to guests’ needs, managing inquiries, and providing exceptional customer service.
  • Entertainment: The entertainment department offers opportunities for singers, dancers, musicians, and other performers to showcase their talents through onboard shows, concerts, and interactive events.
  • Housekeeping: Housekeeping staff is responsible for maintaining cleanliness and providing a comfortable environment for guests in their cabins and public areas throughout the ship.
  • Deck and Engineering: The deck and engineering department includes positions such as navigation officers, engineers, and electricians who ensure the smooth operation of the ship’s systems, safety protocols, and maintenance.
  • Spa and Wellness: Spa therapists, fitness instructors, and beauty specialists help guests relax and rejuvenate by offering a range of spa treatments, fitness classes, and salon services.
  • Retail and Sales: Retail positions include duty-free shop attendants and sales associates who assist guests in shopping for luxury goods, clothing, jewelry, and souvenirs.
  • Childcare and Youth Activities: Cruise ships often have dedicated staff to organize and supervise activities for children and teenagers, providing entertainment and age-appropriate programs.

These are just a few examples of the job opportunities available on a cruise ship. It’s important to note that different cruise lines may have unique positions based on their specific offerings and target demographics. It’s advisable to research and explore different job listings to find the right fit for your skills and interests.


Typical Work Schedule on a Cruise Ship

Working on a cruise ship requires a different approach to scheduling compared to traditional land-based jobs. The work schedule on a cruise ship can vary depending on the department and position. Here is a glimpse into a typical work schedule on a cruise ship:


Crew members on a cruise ship often work long hours, typically between 8 to 12 hours per day. However, the exact schedule can vary based on the needs of the ship and the nature of the job. Some positions may require working split shifts or being on-call during certain hours.


Unlike a Monday-to-Friday office job, the work schedule on a cruise ship is structured based on the ship’s itinerary and operational needs. This means that crew members may need to work on weekends, public holidays, and even during times when the ship is docked at different ports of call.


As part of their employment contract, crew members are usually assigned to specific work shifts, which can be mornings, afternoons, evenings, or overnight. The exact schedule is determined by the department and position, taking into account the need for continuous operation and guest services.


While the work schedule on a cruise ship can be demanding, most cruise lines have policies in place to ensure that crew members receive adequate time off. Typically, crew members are given a set amount of hours or days off each week, allowing them time to rest and recharge.


It’s important to note that due to the nature of the cruise industry, the work schedule can be subject to change based on the ship’s itinerary, guest needs, and any unforeseen circumstances. Flexibility and adaptability are key qualities for those considering a career on a cruise ship.


Despite the demanding schedule, working on a cruise ship also provides opportunities for crew members to explore various destinations during their time off. They can participate in shore excursions, explore local attractions, and experience different cultures, making their time off more rewarding.


Overall, the work schedule on a cruise ship may be challenging and require flexibility, but it also offers unique opportunities to travel and experience different parts of the world.


Housing and Living Conditions on a Cruise Ship

When working on a cruise ship, crew members have specific accommodations provided by the cruise line. These accommodations vary depending on the position and seniority of the crew member. Here is an overview of the housing and living conditions on a cruise ship:


Crew cabins on a cruise ship can range in size and amenities. Lower-level crew members often share cabins with one or more colleagues, while higher-ranking officers may have private cabins. Cabin size varies depending on the ship, but typically includes a bed, storage space, a bathroom, and basic furnishings.


Living conditions in crew cabins are functional but compact, aiming to provide a comfortable space for crew members to rest and relax during their off-duty hours. It’s important to note that due to limited space, privacy may be limited, and cabin mates will need to respect each other’s personal space and schedules.


Cruise lines make efforts to ensure that crew cabins are well-maintained and clean. Regular cleaning and maintenance schedules are implemented to uphold cleanliness and ensure a comfortable living environment for crew members.


Living on a cruise ship also means sharing common areas with other crew members. These areas may include crew lounges, dining halls, fitness facilities, and recreation areas. These spaces provide opportunities for socializing, relaxation, and maintaining a sense of community among the crew.


Meals for the crew are typically provided in dedicated dining halls or mess halls. Cruise lines offer a variety of meal options to cater to different dietary preferences and cultural backgrounds. Some cruise lines even have dedicated crew restaurants that offer a range of cuisines.


It’s important to remember that living conditions on a cruise ship are designed to prioritize the comfort and needs of guests. Crew members work hard to ensure guest satisfaction, and their living conditions reflect this focus on guest experience and service.


While the living conditions on a cruise ship may be different from traditional land-based accommodations, many crew members appreciate the convenience and unique experience of living and working on a floating community. The camaraderie and shared experience among crew members can make the living conditions a positive aspect of working on a cruise ship.


Overall, the housing and living conditions on a cruise ship are functional and aim to provide a comfortable environment for crew members to rest and recharge during their time off-duty.


Meals and Food Options on a Cruise Ship

One of the highlights of working on a cruise ship is the abundance of food options available to crew members. Cruise lines take pride in providing a variety of culinary experiences to ensure that crew members are well-nourished and satisfied. Here is a closer look at the meals and food options on a cruise ship:


Crew members are typically provided with meals in dedicated dining areas, separate from the guest dining venues. The crew dining halls, also known as mess halls, offer a range of cuisines and dishes to cater to the diverse tastes and cultural backgrounds of the crew.


The menus in the crew dining halls often include a selection of breakfast, lunch, and dinner options. The breakfast menu may feature a variety of hot and cold items, such as omelets, cereals, pastries, fruits, and yogurt. For lunch and dinner, there is usually a choice of main courses, sides, salads, and desserts.


Cruise lines understand the importance of providing balanced and nutritious meals to crew members. Therefore, the menus in the crew dining halls typically include a variety of options, including vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free choices. Special dietary requirements can be accommodated upon request, ensuring that crew members with specific dietary needs are well-catered to.


In addition to the crew dining halls, some cruise lines have dedicated crew restaurants that offer a more extensive range of food options. These restaurants can include buffet-style stations, specialty cuisines, and even a la carte menus, providing crew members with a dining experience similar to what guests enjoy onboard.


Outside of the designated dining areas, crew members may also have access to self-serve snack stations or grab-and-go options. These offer quick and convenient choices for crew members who may have limited time during their breaks or in-between shifts.


It’s important to note that while crew members have access to the same culinary options, the dining experience may differ from the guest experience. Crew dining areas are designed to accommodate the ship’s operational needs and the large number of crew members, focusing on functionality and efficiency rather than luxurious ambiance.


Overall, the meals and food options on a cruise ship provide crew members with a wide selection of delicious and nourishing choices. The focus on variety, dietary accommodations, and quality ensures that crew members can enjoy satisfying meals throughout their time on board.


Salary and Benefits for Cruise Ship Employees

Working on a cruise ship not only provides an exciting and unique experience, but it also offers competitive salary and benefits packages. Cruise lines recognize the value and dedication of their employees and provide various perks to attract and retain talent. Here is an overview of the salary and benefits for cruise ship employees:


The salary for cruise ship employees can vary depending on the position, experience, and the cruise line itself. Entry-level positions such as housekeeping, food service, or entertainment staff typically receive a monthly salary, while more senior roles like ship officers or department managers may receive a higher salary based on their responsibilities and expertise.


In addition to their salary, cruise ship employees enjoy benefits such as accommodations and meals. Most cruise lines provide crew members with shared cabins or private accommodations, depending on their rank and position. This eliminates the need for additional housing expenses. Similarly, meals for crew members are typically provided in dedicated crew dining halls or mess halls, ensuring that employees have access to nourishing meals without additional cost.


Cruise lines also offer insurance coverage to their employees. This can include health insurance, which covers medical expenses, as well as travel insurance for crew members who may need to seek medical treatment while in different ports of call. The specifics of insurance coverage may vary between cruise lines, so it’s important to read the terms and conditions provided by the employer.


Many cruise lines offer retirement savings plans or pension schemes to help employees secure their financial future. This allows crew members to save a portion of their salary and receive employer contributions, ensuring a nest egg for retirement.


In addition to financial benefits, cruise ship employees often have access to onboard facilities and amenities. This may include recreation areas, fitness centers, pools, and even crew-only lounges. These amenities provide opportunities for relaxation and leisure during downtime, fostering a well-rounded work-life experience.


It’s important to note that while working on a cruise ship can be financially rewarding, it’s essential to manage expenses wisely. Crew members have a unique opportunity to save money since they have limited living expenses on board. It’s advisable to create a budget and plan for future expenses or financial goals.


Overall, the salary and benefits for cruise ship employees reflect the cruise lines’ commitment to providing a comprehensive and rewarding employment experience. From competitive salaries to accommodations, meals, insurance coverage, and access to onboard facilities, cruise ship employees can enjoy a range of perks that contribute to their overall job satisfaction.


Health and Safety Regulations on a Cruise Ship

Ensuring the health and safety of guests and crew members is of utmost importance on a cruise ship. Cruise lines adhere to strict regulations and implement comprehensive measures to maintain a safe and healthy environment onboard. Here is an overview of the health and safety regulations on a cruise ship:


Cruise ships are subject to international and national regulations to ensure compliance with health and safety standards. These regulations cover areas such as proper sanitation, emergency procedures, fire safety, and medical care.


Sanitation is a top priority on a cruise ship. The ship’s crew follows stringent cleaning protocols to maintain cleanliness and prevent the spread of illnesses. Regular cleaning and disinfection of common areas, cabins, and dining facilities are conducted to minimize the risk of communicable diseases.


Emergency procedures are in place to address potential hazards or incidents that may occur onboard. Crew members receive thorough training on safety drills, evacuation procedures, and the use of safety equipment. These drills are regularly conducted to ensure everyone is prepared and aware of their roles and responsibilities in emergency situations.


Fire safety is a critical aspect of maintaining a safe environment on a cruise ship. Ships are equipped with advanced fire suppression systems, early detection systems, and well-trained crew members who undergo regular fire safety training. Strict protocols and standard operating procedures are established to prevent, detect, and manage any fire-related incidents.


Medical facilities and resources are available on cruise ships to provide necessary medical care to guests and crew members. A medical center staffed with trained medical professionals is available around the clock to address any medical concerns or emergencies. Medical facilities are equipped to provide basic medical care and stabilize patients until further treatment can be obtained at the next port of call or through medical evacuation, if necessary.


Additionally, cruise lines have taken enhanced health and safety measures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. These measures include pre-boarding health screenings, frequent testing, increased sanitization protocols, social distancing measures, and improved ventilation systems. These efforts aim to safeguard the health and well-being of both guests and crew members.


It’s essential for crew members to adhere to all health and safety regulations, follow proper hygiene practices, and report any concerns or incidents to the ship’s management. By actively participating in maintaining a safe environment, crew members contribute to the overall well-being of everyone onboard.


Cruise lines continuously monitor and update their health and safety protocols to align with international health standards and emerging best practices. The safety and well-being of guests and crew members remain a top priority, as ensuring a safe and enjoyable cruise experience is paramount to the success of the industry.


Entertainment and Recreation Facilities for Crew Members

Cruise ships understand the importance of providing opportunities for crew members to relax, unwind, and enjoy their time off-duty. To enhance the well-being and overall experience of crew members, cruise lines offer a range of entertainment and recreation facilities on board. Here is a glimpse into the entertainment and recreation options available for crew members:


Crew lounges and recreation areas are designated spaces where crew members can socialize, relax, and engage in recreational activities during their leisure time. These areas often feature comfortable seating, TVs, game consoles, and pool tables, creating a space for crew members to unwind and connect with their colleagues.


Fitness centers and sports facilities are typically available to crew members, offering a range of equipment and exercise options. Whether it’s hitting the gym, participating in fitness classes, playing basketball, or even jogging on the ship’s designated track, crew members have the opportunity to maintain an active lifestyle while on board.


Some cruise ships have designated crew-only swimming pools or sun decks where crew members can enjoy some downtime under the sun. These areas provide a space for relaxation and enjoyment without the crowds of the guest areas.


Special events and parties are organized for crew members to celebrate birthdays, holidays, and other occasions. These events offer the opportunity to come together as a community, have fun, and create lasting memories.


Onboard activities and workshops are often arranged for crew members to develop new skills or engage in hobbies during their time off. These activities can range from language classes and photography workshops to dance lessons and cooking demonstrations.


Cruise lines may also provide discounted or complimentary access to entertainment shows, performances, and guest lectures available to guests on board. This allows crew members to enjoy world-class entertainment, such as Broadway-style shows, live music, comedy acts, and educational lectures.


It’s important to note that while crew members have access to these facilities and activities, it’s essential to balance leisure time with work responsibilities and adhere to the ship’s policies regarding usage and conduct.


The availability of entertainment and recreation facilities for crew members demonstrates cruise lines’ commitment to ensuring a positive and fulfilling experience for their employees. These facilities contribute to the overall well-being, happiness, and job satisfaction of crew members, fostering a sense of community and camaraderie among the ship’s staff.


Cultural Exchange and Travel Opportunities on a Cruise Ship

Working on a cruise ship provides a unique opportunity for cultural exchange and travel adventures. Crew members have the chance to interact with people from different countries and experience diverse cultures while visiting various ports of call. Here are the cultural exchange and travel opportunities on a cruise ship:


Interacting with colleagues and guests from around the world allows crew members to engage in a rich cultural exchange. Working alongside individuals from different backgrounds provides a unique platform to learn about customs, traditions, languages, and cuisines.


Cruise ship itineraries often include ports of call in different countries and regions. While the ship is docked, crew members have the opportunity to disembark and explore the local attractions, landmarks, and points of interest. This allows them to immerse themselves in new cultures and gain firsthand experiences of various destinations.


Visiting multiple ports of call during their contract duration exposes crew members to a wide range of cultural experiences. They can witness diverse architecture, taste traditional cuisines, explore local markets, and engage with the local community in each destination.


Aside from exploring the ports of call, crew members can also participate in shore excursions organized by the cruise line. These excursions offer guided tours and activities that allow crew members to experience the unique highlights of each destination.


During their time off in port, crew members can independently explore the local area, interact with locals, and engage in cultural activities. This can include visiting museums, historical sites, or participating in local festivals and events.


Cruise lines also promote cultural exchange onboard by organizing themed events, performances, and activities that celebrate the diversity of the crew members’ backgrounds. Crew members can showcase their talents, share their traditions, and learn from others in a supportive and inclusive environment.


The travel opportunities provided by working on a cruise ship allow crew members to broaden their horizons, develop a global perspective, and gain a deeper appreciation for different cultures and customs. It offers a unique chance to explore the world and create unforgettable memories.


It’s important to note that while the travel aspect of working on a cruise ship is exciting, crew members must balance their work responsibilities and ensure they follow the ship’s policies and regulations regarding time off, shore leave, and exploration of ports of call.


The cultural exchange and travel opportunities on a cruise ship not only enrich the personal lives of crew members but also provide invaluable experiences that can positively impact their future careers and personal growth.



Working on a cruise ship offers a truly unique and rewarding experience. From the opportunity to travel the world and immerse in different cultures to the competitive salary and benefits packages, the advantages of working on a cruise ship are undeniable. However, it’s important to acknowledge the challenges that come with the job, including long working hours, potential isolation, and the need to adapt to a different lifestyle.


Cruise ship employees have a wide range of job opportunities available to them, catering to various skill sets and interests. Whether it’s working in the food and beverage department, entertainment, guest services, or other departments, there are options for individuals from different backgrounds.


The work schedule on a cruise ship may be demanding, but it comes with the chance to explore different destinations during time off. Crew members can enjoy the onboard facilities and amenities, fostering a sense of community among colleagues and creating lifelong memories.


Health and safety regulations are strictly enforced onboard cruise ships, ensuring the well-being of both guests and crew members. Additionally, cultural exchange and travel opportunities provide crew members the chance to broaden their horizons, develop a global perspective, and establish lifelong connections.


In conclusion, working on a cruise ship can be an incredible adventure filled with unique experiences and opportunities for personal and professional growth. It is a career path that allows individuals to combine their passion for travel, hospitality, and cultural exchange while being part of a vibrant and diverse community. Despite the challenges, the rewards far outweigh the drawbacks, making working on a cruise ship an unforgettable and fulfilling journey.