Cruise Industry Information


The Cruise industry is one of the fastest growing sectors in international leisure travel and, with ten to twenty new luxury liners being built every year, this growth has also meant an increasing number of jobs being available. If you add the American, European and Asian fleets, the number of ships sailing the oceans is more than 220 and they carry between them over 8 million passengers every year. When each new ship is launched there can be up to 1,000 new onboard positions (depending on the size of the ship). New ships tend to be staffed using existing personnel from throughout the fleet, leaving many vacancies for new applicants to apply for.

Nature of the work

Cruise Liners sail with a variety of itineraries ranging from two-day sails to three month world cruises and they visit ports in many countries, with the Caribbean and the Mediterranean being perhaps the most popular with European passengers.

Life on board is not for everyone as you will sometimes be required to share cabins with other members of staff, work long hours seven days a week, and adhere at all times to the safety rules and the discipline of the ship. You will need to enjoy being surrounded by people and be willing to put the passengers’ needs first all the time. The skills and qualities to be an excellent team player are the key to all the roles on board.

There are many benefits to working on board. There is sometimes time to sightsee around the various ports of call, so travel experiences are pretty good. There are opportunities to earn good salaries and save money, as most of your expenses on board (for example, bed, board and food) are met by the Cruise Line. There is the opportunity to meet a wide range of people from many different backgrounds and experiences, while developing your professional skills. All positions on board are normally salaried (with the exception of Gentlemen Hosts) and are paid monthly. Most companies pay a bonus to the employee when they complete their contracts. There are different types of contract available on board with most positions being fixed term for the particular season or cruise. Depending on performance you may be offered a new contract for the next schedule. Some contracts are ‘evergreen’, depending on company policy.

Qualifications and Certification

Deck and Engine Officers must hold valid Certificate of Competence, GMDSS, CPSC, Advanced Fire Fighting, Crowd Management, Crisis Management & Human Behaviour, and Seafarer's Medical Certificate.

Hotel & Entertainment Officers must hold valid mandatory STCW95 certificates, together with Crowd Management, Crisis Management & Human Behaviour (most positions), and Seafarer's Medical Certificate.

Medical Officers must hold valid mandatory STCW95 certificates, together with Crowd Management, Crisis Management & Human Behaviour, Seafarer's Medical Certificate and relevant medical training certificates. 

Jobs on board

Cruise liners are like huge hotels floating on the sea. They operate 24 hours a day and cater at all times for the pleasure and satisfaction of their passengers. Many liners have casinos, theatres, cinemas, gyms, beauty parlours, and gift shops, as well as the usual hotel operations on board. This extensive range of entertainment, health & fitness, travel & tourism, hotel and hospitality roles means there are many different types of job available for all age ranges and backgrounds. The crew onboard a ship are split into three different categories:

Deck & Engine Officers

The Officer positions are highly technical and will require appropriate certification.


These positions include crew who work in beauty salons, photographers, gift shop personnel, pursers and receptionists who usually fall under the management of the Hotel Director on board. Staff positions also include entertainers, musicians, lecturers, social hosts and cruise staff. These posts report to the Cruise Director.


Crew positions generally refer to all other positions below Officer and Staff level throughout the ship and cover mainly the hotel, and deck and engine departments. They include such position as waiters, cabin stewards, housekeeping staff, bar stewards, as well as the deck and engine ratings.

Job Descriptions

Listed below are a variety of jobs carried out on cruise ships. However, it must be noted that each cruise line has its own job descriptions and those below are a general guide only. Some cruise lines will also engage staff such as photographers, videographers, scuba staff, international host/hostess, gentlemen hosts, and members of the clergy.

Beauty Salon Staff - Most cruise ships provide beauty, spa and fitness centres that offer a wide range of treatments to passengers, such as aromatherapy massages, facials, mud baths, body wraps, spa treatments, hairdressing and make up. The qualified staff, who work in and manage this area, are usually recruited via concessionaire companies and not crewing agencies.

Bar Staff – Bar staff are expected to have had previous related beverage experience and training, know the proper cocktail mixes, drink mixes, glasses to serve each type of drink in, and the associated garnishes.

Computer Specialist – Most cruise ships have computer suites on board. Passengers are able to pick up their e-mails and access the Internet. Cruise lines also provide basic computer skills course for passengers and so a computer specialist is required to teach, provide individual help and tuition where required as well as trouble shooting PC problems, software and hardware problems. A thorough knowledge of computers, software, and computer and Internet services is required, as is the ability to communicate understanding and knowledge of computers to the passengers.

Cruise Staff & Social Hosts – Cruise staff are responsible for all passenger activities, social activities, functions, shows and information talks regarding disembarkation. They encourage participation in activities and on board games, socialising with passengers and introducing them to one another and to the Captain. They are constantly in the public eye and require energy, enthusiasm, excellent communication skills and personal presentation. Cruise Staff also assist the Shore Excursion team and the Senior Host/Hostess works closely with the Captain and Cruise Director, ensuring the welfare of the passengers is considered at all times.

Entertainers – Entertainers either form part of a production cast, made up of professional singers and dancers or guest entertainers who perform a speciality act for a short period of time aboard a number of different ships. Comedians, jugglers, singers and musicians usually form part of this group and are sourced through agencies or direct through crewing agencies. The production cast will put onlively variety shows and operate together as a dance team for the duration of their contract. Again these positions are filled either through specific entertainment agencies or direct by a crewing company.

Galley staff – Galley staff are the chefs on board a ship. They, with the management team, are responsible for operation and maintenance of the main galley and storage areas, kitchens, cafes, crew galley areas etc. They also have responsibility for ensuring that safety policies relating to food and hygiene are carried out. Chefs have to have relevant technical qualifications, and experience within first rate hotels or restaurants.

Gift Shop Personnel – These staff have responsibility for running, stocking and generally maintaining the gift shops on board. The shops generally consist of boutiques, perfumery and cosmetic shops and souvenir and gift shops. Experience in the retail industry is an advantage.

Housekeeping – Most housekeeping positions on board cruise lines are filled using employment agencies and applicants are recruited from all over the world.

Lecturers – There are two types of lecturers on board. The guest lecturer tends to specialise in a particular subject such as computers, culture, health, science, arts and crafts etc. Celebrities also fall into this category. They will only work on a short-term contract basis. The port lecturer, however, can be a full time or short term position and is responsible for tour, shopping and port information.

Medical Staff – All ships have a comprehensive medical department which will have one or two doctors and between one to four nurses.

Purser - The purser’s office is responsible for all guest relations, cabin allocations, custom and immigration regulations. They are based at the reception desk on board and generally provide first point of contact for passengers, helping to solve on board problems. They are responsible for administration on board as well accounting and budgeting work.

Production Staff - The production staff are stage managers, sound engineers and lighting technicians etc.  They support the Leisure Service Department activities and entertainments programmes.

Dining Room - The Maitre D' is responsible for the smooth service operation in this area.  Waiters should have a comprehensive knowledge of the menu and be able to advise passengers accordingly.

This jobs list is by no means exhaustive. If you require further information on what jobs are available then please contact us or go to one of the linked websites for further information.