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The Cruise Ship Industry Sees a Successful Future Ahead

If you want to set sail for a career in the cruise industry, now might be a great time.

There are over 800 cruise ships. Each employs between 250 and 1,500 staff. That's according to Cruise Line Resources, an online employment service.

High turnover in the industry usually means there are lots of openings for newcomers to come on board.

"It is common in the industry that a great majority of crew members only aim to work for three to nine months. This is good news for newcomers into the industry, as it always creates a huge number of vacant positions throughout the year," says Cruise Line Resources.

What Types of Jobs are There?

There are many types of jobs available on cruise ships. They are typically the same types of jobs you would find in a luxury resort or hotel.

The ships themselves are like floating cities. Often, there are over 3,000 passengers on board. The ships need many different employees to do many different things. You could be an aerobics instructor, a librarian, a hairstylist, a tour guide, a kitchen worker -- the list goes on.

While the job opportunities are diverse and plentiful, there is one common theme. Exceptional customer service is a requirement for all of them.

The cruise industry also employs many people in land-based jobs.

Kim Milner is one of those people. She works for a cruise line in its corporate office in Seattle.

"There's a lot of administrative and logistic work," says Milner. "At our corporate office, we do all kinds of things that support what happens on the ship, for example, handling reservations and marketing materials.

"Entertainment, too, is a huge area where we plan what entertainers and events we will have on the ship. We have big a department that does all that," adds Milner.

What Do I Need to Know?

Before you even try to get hired to work for a cruise company, you need to know what those companies are looking for.

You have to have excellent social skills and a great personality.

For specialized jobs, such as diving instructors, for example, you need relevant qualifications, says Cruise Line Resources.

"Appearance is important. Employees must be clean and well groomed at all times. In short, they are looking for hardworking individuals who enjoy people and take pride in themselves and their work," says the Just Cruis'n website. Just Cruis'n International is a recruiter for cruise companies.

Mark Landon has spent six years working on eight different cruise ships for four different cruise companies. He says it wasn't easy to get hired at the start of his career.

"I set out to find a cruise ship job and found a sea of misinformation. As a result, my search for cruise line employment took months, but I finally got lucky," says Landon.

Landon says he paid money for books on how to find a job in the cruise industry that turned out to be useless.

"The cruise lines are very strict about the job application process. If your resume package is incomplete, incorrect or is sent to the wrong person, it will be discarded immediately," says Landon.

Working on board a ship can be a very culturally diverse experience. Guests come from all parts of the world, as do staff. Many companies recruit staff from outside North America.

There are opportunities to advance in the industry. For example, cruise directors often work their way up through the ranks.

That's the way it happened for Jim Coston, as he writes in an online article for a cruise industry website called Cruisin'.

"As cruise director, your primary job is to coordinate with the other department ensure that all ship-related activities and events occur on time and as planned," explains Coston.

Before You Jump On Board...

You will have to have a medical exam as a condition of employment on a cruise ship. Some cruise companies will pay your transportation to get on the ship. Others expect you to pay yourself. You may be required to purchase a uniform. That info comes from Just Cruis'n International.

Wages range from $1,000 to $1,700 per month. Restaurant staff rely on tips for their wages. They make between $300 to $600 per week. These numbers come from Just Cruis'n International.

Once hired, you will likely get an employment contract that is somewhere between three weeks and 12 months, according to Cruise Line Resources. The contract could be renewable.

Accommodation in a cabin (usually shared) and food are provided when you work on a ship.

You may be able to save some money because you won't have the big living expenses of food and accommodation while working.

However, working on a cruise ship is not all fun and games.

"Cruise ship workers should realize that their situation will not be any form of pleasure cruise. That is hopefully what the passengers will have, and the crew's job is to try to make it so," says Larry Elliston. He works in the industry.

"The work is often hard and demanding, the food usually good enough, but crew accommodation is often cramped and confined," adds Elliston.

Just Cruis'n International also warns: "You will work long hours. You can expect to work seven days a week, approximately eight to 14 hours a day. Your schedule will vary from day to day."

"One has to very quickly adjust to the lifestyle, its pace, and often strange requirements -- without a sign of complaint! And when the ship is in port, one is often busier at one's job than when the ship is at sea! Shore excursions are usually for the passengers," adds Elliston.

The ships often have areas for staff to use when off duty, such as a separate swimming pool from that of the guests.

Teamwork is an important facet of working on a cruise ship. Training and safety drills, for example, are something that all staff must participate in.

Despite all the rules and regulations, having a job on a cruise ship could be exciting and adventurous. But be sure to think everything through before setting sail.


Just Cruis'n International
A recruiting company for the cruise industry

Cruise Line Jobs
Lots of listings

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