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Paid Work on a Cruise Ship: How to Get Hired

Paid cruise ship work is available worldwide, here in Scandinavia
Paid cruise ship work is available worldwide, here in Scandinavia.

If you want to change careers or just for a lifestyle change, 2023 is again a great time to get a job on a cruise ship. According to the most recent statistics, over 29 million people took cruise vacations in 2022, supplying over 480,000 jobs, almost USD 8 billion in revenue, with the industry growth projections extremely impressive. Getting hired by a cruise line requires ensuring the right person sees your carefully put-together employment package for what could turn into an excellent travel investment.

Crew agencies are generally a waste of money. Even if the agency tells you it will guarantee you a job or your money back, it will require rejection letters from the cruise companies to prove that you haven't been hired. But cruise companies don't send rejection letters.

To get hired, you first need to know what positions or jobs are available that fit your qualifications. Then, you need to know the right places to send your resume.

Americans and Canadians are generally hired for jobs that require passenger contact such as jobs at the front desk, boutiques, casinos, salons or spas, and work in entertainment, photography, or as youth counselors. Positions in the galley, restaurants, bars, and technical departments are usually filled through agencies outside of North America.

Major Cruise Ship Employers

The following websites have excellent information about their shipboard jobs:

Carnival Corporation is the largest cruise vacation company in the world, operating many different companies or "brands." Carnival Corporation hires all casino positions for all of its cruise ship brands. Go to Global Casino Operations for listings of a variety of jobs on 90+ major cruise ships.

Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd operates several lines under Royal Caribbean International Shipboard Careers, and offers a description of the international cruise ships and a job search with listings.

Holland America Line restricted who they hire for because of labor agreements in their unions. Go to their website for employment addresses for photographers, gift shop clerics, hair dressers, and entertainers: Holland America Careers.

Employment Application Process

You should send your employment package directly to the cruise line, using the addresses and contact names that you find on their employment websites. Do not send your resume via email; instead, put together a professional package that will guarantee their attention. It should include a resume, a cover letter, two letters of reference, any diplomas or awards, and a picture of yourself. Send your folder either priority mail or courier.

Tailor your resume to highlight experience of interest to the cruising industry. For example, if you are applying for a junior purser position, you should highlight hotel (front desk), banking, receptionist, or customer service experience. If you are applying for a youth counselor position, you should highlight your childcare, teaching, coaching, or nursing experiences.

The cover letter needs to be individually-targeted. Do your homework. Refer to current company information such as a new itinerary or the debut of a new ship. Also in the cover letter, say that you have a valid passport and when it will expire.

Ships cruise 12 months a year, so there is no set time to apply for a job.

One major advantage for those looking for a job is that the turnover in the industry is quite high since people generally only want to work at these positions for a short period of time for a variety of reasons.

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