Working on a cruise ship is an amazing experience that you will never forget. However, before you apply, you must realize that most jobs on cruise liners can be very difficult and demanding. There are certain pros and cons to consider.

The embarcation day

Embarcation day is the day you will never forget! You will be picked up from the airport and taken to the port. You will feel tired because of the long trip, but excited about the new experience ahead. In front of you will be a majestic ship and you will feel extremely small in comparison. The port authority will take your passport to check if you are on the expected crew embarking list. Sometimes you have to wait a couple of hours before somebody will take you to embark. In this time you will have the opportunity to speak with some of your new colleagues, who you will probably only see the first week, during the familiarization and safety training. An officer (the Crew Purser) will escort you to the ship. When you are finally inside, an unsmiling security officer will ask to open your luggage in order to check what are you bringing on board, and will ask some questions. Your first negative impression may be “this is a prison”, but they are just doing their job. You will be escorted forward to the crew office, in order to complete your registration. Then somebody—a friendly voice—will call you by name; this is your “buddy”, a colleague from your assigned department who will help you during the familiarization period.


The Pros

  • When working on a cruise ship you travel to many attractive destinations and see interesting places. Although you spend most of the time aboard, there are some chances to go ashore and see the sites.
  • You will meet people from all over the world and may forge some enduring friendships.
  • You can earn good money. But be careful – even on board it is very easy to spend money.
  • You sometimes miss your family and will want to keep in touch with your friends by internet. As crew, you will get an internet discount, but onboard even discounted internet access is very expensive. In most of the ports of call there is a seaman’s club, where you will get internet access for free. If this is not available in the port and you can go ashore, visit a bar or a shopping center where you can easily connect to free WiFi.
  • Onboard you get free accommodation and food, and do not have to pay utility bills. The companies organize the welfare activities for the crew members. Furthermore, you will find the following facilities for exclusive use by crew: a swimming pool, bar, gym, and disco.


The Cons

  • You will work long hours: 10–12 hours a day, 7 days a week.
  • Accommodation for the cruise staff is very modest. On newer ships, two people share a cabin and a bathroom; on older ships, crew cabins can be designed for even more than two people. You will have to give up some of your habits and get used to those of your roommates, some of which you may not appreciate. Smoking, alcohol and wet food are not allowed in your cabin (dry food only). Most crew cabins are situated on one of the lower decks and do not have windows. The crew cabins of the major cruise lines have televisions.
  • You will be at sea in all types of weather. If you suffer from severe seasickness, perhaps you should find a job ashore. Light forms of seasickness, however, are common amongst even experienced seaman.
  • When you sign the contract with a cruise line company, you will usually complete a course on work safety, first aid and hygiene. You get free medical care in case you get ill on a cruise ship. Your employer—the cruise line—will pay for your health insurance for the period of the contract. This duty of care is based on international conventions regarding employment at sea.
  • Cruise line staff can use the various leisure facilities on most ships, such as the gym, swimming pool, bar and meeting room. These facilities are only for the staff. Most employees do not socialize with the passengers during their free time. They are not allowed to use the facilities for the passengers