By Lauren Fairbanks
Cruise ship jobs are sought after for many reasons. One of which is that you get to live on board a cruise ship for months at a time, traveling to exotic locales on someone else's dime.
But it's not all umbrella drinks and all-you-can-eat buffets when working aboard a cruise ship. In fact, it's one of the most grueling job schedules out there. But the plus side is that the time in between contracts is generous and allows you to travel or rest for uninterrupted months and the money you can save by not having to pay rent or utilities on board can net you quite a bit of savings.
So how does one go about obtaining a coveted position on a cruise ship? Well, it's not easy, but there are some tricks of the trade that will help you gain entry into a possibly lucrative and exciting career opportunity
Be Specific About Your Work Availability in your Application
Since most cruise companies schedule workers on a monthly basis (typically 4-6 months onboard and 2 months off), it's helpful for hiring managers to know exactly which seasons you'll be available. Also, during the summer there is an uptick in the number of cruises scheduled, so there is an increased need for cruise ship workers during that time period. If you are able to work specific dates, include those in your application as well.
Choose a Cruise That Caters to your Job Expertise
Cruise ship jobs range in type and qualifications. They have a need for everything from cruises hosts to deck hands to performers. If you plan on auditioning for a performing role, make sure you target cruise lines that have a robust performance lineup. Additionally, if you have experience as a kids or youth counselor, target cruise lines that cater families, such as Disney Cruises.
Make Sure You're Passport is Updated
This would seem like common sense, but many people forget that a good majority of cruises are international and will require a valid passport when docking in other cities. If you don't yet have a passport, you're going to need to give yourself a good 3 - 4 months to allow for the application to be processed.
Apply Early for Positions
Positions on cruise ships are filled on an as needed basis, and many times former employees are offered first crack at a new cruise line employment contract. If you're looking for cruise ship employment just for the summer months, applying 4 - 6 months in advance is advisable. Check on the major cruise ship websites (Royal Caribbean Cruise Line, Norwegian Cruise Ship, Princess Cruise Line, Carnival Cruise Line) to see which new ships will be disembarking in the near future.
Lauren Fairbanks is a Brooklyn-based writer hailing originally from that far away land known as the deep South. She has covered lifestyle, small business, personal finance and career topics for various publications including Young Money, Learn Vest, She Knows, Wise Bread, and Eating Well Magazine. She's also the Founder and Editor of LifeStyler - a comprehensive guide to living in New York City on a Budget.