LIFE ONBOARD

How is the life onboard?

The information below is general for most cruise companies. If you are hired, we will communicate the specific conditions and benefits provided by your employer.

There are numerous advantages about working on cruise ships, among others:

  • Saving money for a short period of time, 
  • Traveling around the world, 
  • Meeting people from many different nationalities and cultures, 
  • Developing professional skills and 
  • Gaining work experience.

Living and working on a cruise ship is for many people an unique experience, fulfilling a life-long dream to travel and meet new people. The job best suits adventurous people, who are willing to work hard  and who strive for perfection.

Jobs on cruise ships are becoming more available due to lots of new ships being put into service.

Compared to other industries, cruiselines have a much higher employee turnover rate. Many people consider cruise line jobs as life-long careers, change ships or cruise companies, go on holiday, or simply return to a job on shore. Cruise lines are therefore always looking for new staff.
Thinking of working on a cruise ship but you’re not sure of what’s involved? We have tried to answer many frequently asked questions (FAQs) to give you as much information as possible before you start applying for cruise ship jobs.

We know there’s a lot to consider. As you go through the application process, our recruiters will be glad to provide guidance, and more relevant details to answer any additional questions about shipboard life

frecuently asked questions

  • Minimum age usually is 21
  • Perfect health, which will be determined during a medical examination
  • Be fluent in English. Other languages are a plus!
  • Team player, outgoing and friendly personality, open minded and flexible
  • Professional appearance and excellent social skills
  • Ability to perform duties under pressure
  • Qualifications and experience must meet the requirements for the desired position

Regardless of the position for which you are applying, you must have a valid passport, and the ability to:

  • Obtain a C1-D visa
  • Pass a pre-employment medical examination.
  • Obtain relevant itinerary-driven visas if needed (i.e. Schengen).
  • Present the proper qualifications/certifications required, based on your role.
  • Pass a criminal background check.
  • Obtain a STCW Certification

A C1-D visa is a non-immigrant visa issued by US embassies around the world. This visa allows crew members to transit through US ports. If offered a position, the hiring company will provide a letter to support your application (LOE: Letter of Employment). This visa is not required for Canadians or US citizens or residents.

Some nationalities are required to obtain this visa in order to enter countries that are part of the Schengen territory, in Europe.

This is a combination of how quickly you obtain all your documentation and the number of vacancies that are available that would be suitable for you. It can take between 1 and 6 months.

The recruitment team will be in constant contact to keep you updated on time frame.

It’s an energetic, guest-focused environment. With an average of more than 2,500 guests onboard your particular ship, it’s an opportunity to contribute to the success of a world-class operation, while enriching your own experience. Though it can be very rewarding, it can also be challenging, and it will probably take some time to acclimate to the pace of it all. Because it’s a 24-hour operation, you can expect to work long hours seven days a week, a minimum of 10 hours per day, seven days per week. The 10 hours may be divided into split shifts of varying lengths.

In order to ensure that everyone is familiar with safety procedures (in the case of an emergency), you will be expected to participate in relevant training sessions and drills.

Contract length is usually between 4 – 10 months (depending on company, ship and position), followed by 2 months unpaid vacation.

Yes, if you successfully complete your contract, you can do as many contracts as you like as long as you have a 4 week break in between each 6 month contract.

It is actually preferred by the cruise ship companies for you to do multiple contracts. The companies invest time and money for your training, uniforms, lodging and transportation. These companies are looking for long term employees

Your initial three months on board are considered a probationary period. At any time within this period, the Company can choose to terminate your employment agreement for sub-standard performance.

Unless it is for health reasons, or death of immediate family it will be difficult for the crew member to get hired again by the same company.

In case the crew member wishes to finish the contract before the date indicated, it will be his/her responsibility to pay the airplane ticket to return to his/her country.

You will be paid at the end of the month or at the end of each cruise depending on the cruiseline/concessionaire.  You will receive your salary payments onboard the vessel on a regular schedule which will be explained onboard. Salaries are normally not paid in cash – you will receive an international debit card (such as Salary At sea or Ocean Pay), and your payroll will be deposited to your card account. The card can be used to obtain cash, or to make purchases online or in retail stores. You can manage your account online, and transfer money via Western Union for instance.

You basically have zero expenses on the ship. For onboard spending you will have a crew card which is linked to your account.

First of all, remind that interviews are in English. Then, consider that English is the official language onboard the ships, for security reasons and also because it is an international and multicultural environment. Therefore, all employees must be able to read, write and speak English. For the benefit of constantly improving your English as a second language we strongly recommend you practice its use onboard as much as possible.

Some positions have specific language requirements but in general English is sufficient. Additional language skills are always a plus!

Assignments are based on many factors, and priority is given to business need. Flexibility is key, you might be transferred to another ship as necessary.

Cruise lines offer destinations worldwide, but the biggest markets for the cruise industry are the Caribbean and Europe. Most of the cruise lines do not offer a choice for new hire employees, after one or two contracts employees get some choice of ships and destination

Yes! You will work 7 days a week and more than 10-hour days, but when you are off duty you are free to visit the ports of call. Leisure time varies between shipboard positions and cruiselines.

While off-duty, you can go ashore in your casual clothes.

When the ship is anchored and using tender boats guests are given priority to get to the land. The same occurs when returning to the ship as the last boat is only for our guests.

The large majority of crew share a cabin with one other crew member. Some positions need to share 3 & 4 bed cabins but other more Senior or Management positions have single cabins.

Space is limited onboard and cabins are no exception. Beyond having a roommate, your cabin will most often include a bed with reading light, desk, chairs,TV, DVD, phone, hanging closet with a few hangers and drawers. Each room has its own bathroom and is assigned a cabin steward for weekly housekeeping. On some of the more modern cruises cabins could be singles and you only share the bathroom.

Smoking in your cabin is strictly prohibited and will lead to immediate dismissal.

Once a week, a crew cabin inspection will be done by middle and senior management onboard. Crew Cabin inspections are announced and serve two purposes. The one is to keep the living quarters tidy and clean, the other one is to check that there are no items which require repairs. If items in your cabin are broken or don’t work any longer, follow the ships reporting system as soon as you discover a problem.

Working onboard is a great opportunity not only to grow professionally, but also to make friends from all over the world. While different cultures act differently and sometimes it takes time to adjust, we believe that being open and respectful always leads to good relationships. Communication is usually the key to get along with your roommate; however, if for some reason you don’t feel comfortable you can check with supervisor who will try to facilitate a cabin switch.

Meals are provided in assigned crew dining rooms. Meal hours are posted in the dining room areas.

Since cabin space is very limited, it is recommended that employees bring only what is needed. If you are flying, you may want to check the luggage allowance with the airline. Some suggestions would be: Clothing: underwear, jeans and/ or long pants, sweater, shirts, belt(s), shorts and t-shirts, appropriate shoes, tennis and/or beach shoes, and swimsuit Toiletry: deodorant, razors, brush/comb, toothbrush/paste, shampoo, shaving cream, sunblock. Other: travel alarm clock, medication, beach towel, camera, walkman/MP3 player, laptop, hair dryer, etc.

Objects that may represent a hazard are prohibited. Examples include weapons, clothing irons, hot plates, candles, incense, and any other items that may create a fire hazard, or are deemed unsafe by shipboard security. (Curling irons, flat irons, and hair dryers are allowed.)

Yes, there are uniforms required. Some companies will pay for your uniform, others will require you to buy your own. Almost all the cruise lines require their crew members to purchase their own shoes. There is a dress code you will have to follow, such as wear your name tag at all times.

There´s internet access onboard the ships at the Crew Internet Café. It is a prepaid service. Phone and Internet cards are available for purchase onboard each ship. It is advisable to bring your own laptop. When at sea, your cell phone will also work through satellite but international roaming charges apply and can be expensive. Internet cafes and call centers are available in most ports and offer much better results.

Yes, there are laundry facilities available for the crew.

Cabins offer US 110V and 220V outlets.

The Crew Shop is a general store for crew on every ship. It sells all sorts of things you might want during a contract and charges low prices too, such as: toiletries, cigarettes, candies, shampoo, sodas, etc.

All ships have crew gyms with weights and cardiovascular equipment.

Each vessel has a crew bar where you can meet up after work and socialize.

Cruise ships have a Crew Activity Committee that organizes many of the crew activities. The CAC organizes parties, crew bingo, shore excursions, team sports, barbeques, etc. There´s also a: Crew Sundeck and Pool.

As a service to our guests, we offer organized tours when visiting the ports. If space is available, employees are welcome to enjoy the excursions at a discounted price.

Cruiselines have a strict drug policy: Zero Tolerance. There will be random drug tests and random breath test (alcohol). Drug distribution and use is cause for immediate termination.

You must be sober when on duty, alcohol abuse can be cause for termination.

When off duty, employees are allowed to smoke in the designated smoking areas. Smoking in crew cabins is prohibited.

You will be required to complete an extensive pre-employment medical examination prior to joining the ship. In most cases, the examination is at the employees’ expense. Most probably, the examination should be conducted in an approved medical facility. Once the medical examination is complete and approved by the corporate medical department, employees will be cleared to travel. This medical documentation will then be valid for two years.

Your health and well-being are of the utmost importance. All crewmembers, are fully insured during the contracted period in accordance with your Employment Agreement. While you’re onboard, the doctors and nurses onboard will provide you medical care or assistance at not cost . When an illness or injury requires shore side medical attention, treatment and/or hospitalization, the company insurance will provide you with the recommended treatment and/or hospitalization at no cost to you until the point of maximum medical improvement.

If you have any prescriptions that have been cleared as part of your pre employment medical exam, those should be filled for the duration of your contract.

Cruise lines do not provide dental coverage except in cases of extreme emergencies. They would however, provide assistance in finding a dentist ashore, but in most cases the crew member is responsible for the cost of treatment.

Companies have a “Zero Tolerance” policy against all types of harassment, including but not limited to sexual harassment, creating a hostile work environment or by discriminating against age, race, gender, political beliefs or religion. If you or someone you know suffer any sort of harassment report it to your Manager or HR Manager inmediately.

Couples are welcome onboard but bear in mind, each applicant is assessed individually based on his/her qualifications. We cannot guarantee that you will be assigned to the same ship, since business needs take precedence.

Access to guest areas will depend on your position. Please check with your supervisor. If you are allowed to visit guest areas, please keep in mind that guests always come first! Casinos, guest swimming pools, and whirlpools are for guest use only

The company has a zero tolerance policy toward crime and weapons possession. Any employee committing a crime will be handed over to the appropriate local authorities. Possession of a weapon onboard is also grounds for immediate dismissal. The company reserves the right to conduct a search for weapons at any time without prior notification.

We strongly believe in career development. However, as expected, promotions are based on merit/performance, and fair consideration of the relevant requirements. Please do not expect that you will be promoted or transferred from that position within your first assignment, since generally the opportunity for transfer or promotion is not available until you have successfully completed at least one assignment onboard.

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