Follow This Simple Strategy to Triple Your Chances of Working on a Cruise Ship
Applying for cruise ship jobs is not the same as applying for shore-based positions. By knowing exactly how to apply for a job on a cruise ship, you can massively increase your odds of getting hired.
For most jobs on land, you’d probably respond to an ad or email a resume to the human resources department of the company you want to work for.
So it seems natural to approach applying for cruise ship jobs the same way, right?
But it’s not that simple.
The cruise industry is different.
You can waste weeks and months applying for a job on a cruise ship without any success, simply because you’re applying the wrong way.
In this article, we’re going to reveal how you can triple your chances of working on a cruise ship job, just by understanding more about how the cruise industry goes about hiring people to work on ships.
But to make the most from this strategy, you’ll first want to understand why the cruise industry’s hiring practices are different from most shore-based businesses.
Don’t Apply for A Cruise Ship Job Until You Read This
Cruise lines require an enormous range of skills and talents to operate their ships successfully. Even though everyone on our team has spent hundreds of days at sea, we’re still impressed by all the amazing facilities and services available on modern cruise ships.
The best way to understand the incredible variety of jobs available on cruise ships is to take a look at an example. So let’s explore a typical cruise liner such as Royal Caribbean International’s Brilliance of the Seas.
Brilliance of the Seas is a mid-sized cruise ship that can carry 2,543 passengers when every one of her 1,070 cabins is fully occupied. When you consider that the average full-service hotel has around 290 rooms, this one ship alone is the equivalent of nearly four hotels!
But we’re just getting started…
Cruise ships have much more to offer than even the most luxurious hotel or resort. Brilliance of the Seas boasts ten restaurants and cafes on board including:
- a pizzaria;
- a speciality coffee house;
- a high-end steakhouse;
- an Italian restaurant;
- an Asian-fusion restaurant, including featuring a sushi bar; and
- a Mexican restaurant.
And those are just the speciality dining options!
Brilliance of the Seas’ passengers take most meals in the main dining room, which offers multi-course breakfasts, lunches and dinners or at the more casual Windjammer Cafe, an enormous buffet featuring all sorts of salads, desserts, sides, main courses and more. And, of course, there’s also 24 hour room service!
By the way, we’re not trying to sell you a cruise, though this ship does sound fantastic!
We want to help you get the job of your dreams. And as you start to apply, it’s important to understand the amazing range of services that the employees on just this one ship provide.
So far we’ve seen that one ship, Brilliance of the Seas, is the equivalent of four hotels and ten extremely busy restaurants.
But we haven’t even scratched the surface of the phenomenal facilities available on Brilliance of the Seas.
This spectacular ship also features:
- a huge casino;
- 16 bars, clubs and lounges;
- multiple duty-free boutiques;
- a full service spa;
- a state-of-the-art fitness center;
- a rock-climbing wall;
- a miniature golf course;
- a video arcade;
- Broadway-style entertainment;
- a teen lounge and disco;
- an art gallery
- a photo studio
- and lots more.
The variety of services and facilities is absolutely mind-boggling. And the best part is that all of these fantastic services are staffed by great employees from all over the world, like yourself.
There’s still so much more to consider.
You’re probably familiar with many of services we just listed because you’ve encountered most of them on land. But being at sea adds another level of complexity altogether (and, therefore, more job opportunities).
With 2,543 passengers and 848 crew, Brilliance of the Seas is bigger than some small towns (but with a lot more fun stuff to do). Since a ship at sea obviously can’t connect to important services on land, it must provide many of the same capabilities for itself that a city provides to homes and businesses.
Brilliance of the Seas operates its own water purification; waste treatment; trash and recycling; electricity generation and communications (telecommunications, Internet) systems. And just as a city employs firefighters and police, the ship has security officers for the protection and safety of everyone on board. Brilliance of the Seas even has a fully equipped and staffed medical center!
But we’re still not done describing the impressive work that takes place on this cruise ship.
Let’s consider the responsibilities that go with actual transportation at sea. Brilliance of the Seas employs highly trained officers in the Deck Department who navigate the oceans and “drive” the ship. Her Engineering Department’s employees are responsible for operating and maintaining the ship’s engine and propulsion system.
We could go on much longer. There are many onboard operations and positions we haven’t mentioned yet (such as Shore Excursions) but you get the idea.
The bottom line is that this one cruise ship alone, Brilliance of the Seas, is similar to a small city with four hotels, 10 restaurants, 16 bars, a Broadway-style theatre, a casino, a shopping mall, and a hospital.
Her officers, staff and crew manage and operate these incredible facilities and services while travelling all over the world by sea, in every type of weather, while keeping more than 3,300 people from around the globe housed, fed and safe.
Now that’s amazing!
Let’s take a moment to give all those cruise ship employees a hand.
And remember, as magnificent as she is, Brilliance of the Seas is only a mid-sized ship. There are more than 85 cruise ships at sea right now that are even larger!
In fact, Royal Caribbean International’s brand new mega-liner Harmony of the Seas is more than twice as big as her fleet-mate Brilliance and offers an even more spectacular array of facilities and services.
How to Triple Your Chances for a Cruise Ship Job
So how does learning about all these cruise features help you apply for a cruise ship job?
Pay close attention because this is the key to making your cruise ship job search much more successful.
Because of the mind-boggling variety of skills and qualifications required to run all of these amazing facilities and services, it would be nearly impossible for the cruise line do everything themselves.
That’s why cruise lines work with partners.
While it’s certainly possible to get hired successfully by applying directly to a cruise line, most positions on cruise ships are actually recruited by hundreds of partners around the world. So you’ll want to apply for jobs with partners to maximize your chances of working on a cruise ship.
And that’s the secret to tripling your chances to get hired for a cruise ship job.
Now you might be asking a few questions, such as:
- Who are these partners?
- What do they do?
- How can I work with them to get a cruise ship job?
Smart questions. Glad you asked.
In this next section, we’re going to explain all about working with cruise line partners so that you’ll massively increase your chances of getting hired for a cruise ship job. And, you’ll save many weeks or even months of wasted effort.
The Best Way to Apply for Cruise Ship Jobs
There are two main types of cruise line partners you need to know about are:
- Concessionary Companies
- Recruiting Agencies
A Concessionary Company, also called a Concessionaire, is an outside company that runs certain services, such as duty free boutiques, on the cruise ship.
Think of this arrangement as being similar to a shopping mall with retail stores inside. The mall provides the space and the customers, while the store hires employees and provides the products and services.
A Recruiting Agency —also called a Hiring Partner or a Manning Agency—works on behalf of a cruise line (or even a Concessionary Company) to recruit staff for a wide range of departments onboard.
An important distinction to remember is that once you’ve been hired, a Recruiting Agency’s job is done. If you get hired by a Concessionaire, you actually become their employee and have an ongoing relationship with them while working on the cruise ship.
Regardless of whether you work for the cruise line or a Concessionaire, you are still responsible for working under the the same rules and regulations onboard as any other employee.
When Should You Apply Directly to a Cruise Line?
While you’re most likely to get hired by a partner such as a Concessionary Company or Recruiting Agent, in certain cases, you may still want to apply directly to a cruise line.
A cruise line is a company that operates cruise ships and market cruises to the public. Cruise lines range from global brands operated by multi-billion dollar publicly-traded corporations to small family-run cruise companies that focus on specific market niches or geographic locations.
Each cruise ship is divided into different departments, such as:
- Food and Beverage
- Photo and Video
- Salon and Spa
- Shore Excursion
- Many more.
Each department is also represented in the cruise lines’ corporate office. The corporate staff ensure that there is an adequate number of crew members onboard each ship.
Cruise lines hire tens of thousands of people a year, which is an enormous task.
So, as you know, cruise companies partner with agencies and concessionary companies to help with the hiring process and even run a department on their ships.
If you’re interested in applying for a position that’s usually staffed by one of these partner companies, your best bet to get hired quickly is to apply directly to the partner instead of the cruise line.
On the other hand, for jobs where there is only one position per ship (e.g., Cruise Loyalty Manager), the recruiting is generally handled in-house by the cruise line. Also, certain smaller, specialty cruise lines may hire for themselves.
Most cruise lines have a standalone career website or least a section of their corporate website for prospective employees. You should also know that in addition to their main career website, some of the larger cruise lines have set up additional websites for specific departments such as entertainment or casino.
For example, www.royalcaribbeanproductions.com is a site dedicated to the entertainment department for Royal Caribbean International. On this site, they accept applications for dancers, musicians, production staff, cruise staff and youth staff.
Similarly, www.oceancasinojobs.com is a website dedicated to hiring casino staff (dealers, slot technicians, casino cashiers) for casinos on Carnival Corporation’s 105 cruise ships across 10 different brands.
When to Apply to a Cruise Concessionary Company
Concessionary Companies should not be confused with a cruise recruiting agencies, although many cruise ship job applicants make this assumption. The fact is that a cruise line Concessionaire is simply a third party vendor that sells services or merchandise onboard.
For certain types of cruise ship jobs the only way to get hired is to apply through the Concessionaire. These specific job opportunities available with Concessionary Companies are described in detail below.
Retail Boutiques and Gift Shops
Many larger ocean going vessels usually boast multiple boutiques onboard that are run by specialty companies such as Starboard Cruise Services or Harding Retail. These retail concessions mainly sell duty-free items such jewelry, fragrances, cosmetics, liquor and tobacco, as well as souvenirs and personal items.
If you have sales or retail experience and are interested in working in an onboard boutique, applying directly to a cruise line retail concessionaire is your best strategy to get hired for a cruise ship job.
Salon, Spa and Fitness
Cruise lines work with several concessionary companies to provide on board spa, salon and fitness services. The largest of these companies, the OnBoard Spa by Steiner, directly employs over 3,000 individuals on more than 150 ships at sea.
If you have professional qualifications or training in hair, beauty, fitness, massage or similar, then we recommend applying directly to a spa, salon and fitness concessionary company.
Photography and Videography
Many major cruise lines outsource their onboard video and and photography services to a concessionaire, while others operate this service themselves.
Onboard photographers and videographers take photos of passengers and events and sell photos as well as photo related products such as cameras, memory cards, frames and albums.
Port and Shopping Guides
Also referred to as a Port and Shopping Presenter, this cruise job educates guests about shopping ashore through entertaining on-stage presentations. Behind the scenes, this job also supports and promotes merchandise from its partners ashore.
There are two Concessionaires that hire this position, which is most often staffed for Caribbean and Alaska itineraries. Individuals with sales experience and great communication skills can be very successful in these positions which offer attractive commission-based income.
A number of art galleries make their art available for sale through various cruise lines. The cruise ship art auctioneer holds onboard auctions and art seminars for passengers to buy art.
There are several companies based in the US that manage cruise ship art auctions and art auctioneers can make a lucrative commission-based income.
The shipboard Internet Cafe Manager is primarily responsible for ensuring the efficient day-to-day operation of the shipboard internet and affiliated services. Most cruise lines outsource this position to EMC, which acquired Maritime Satellite Telecommunications Network in 2015.
Physicians and nurses onboard cruise ships handle anything from minor illness to major trauma. Some of the major cruise lines hire medical staff themselves, while other will hire these positions through a concessionary company.
When To Apply to Cruise Line Recruitment Agencies
One of the best and most effective ways of successfully finding employment on a cruise ship is to apply through a reputable cruise ship recruitment agency in your home country.
An agency is an independent company working on behalf of cruise lines and/or Concessionaires with the sole task of providing them with personnel.
Like much of the shipping industry, cruise lines recruit crew members internationally. Many large cruise lines proudly employ individuals from more than 100 countries onboard their ships.
Cruise line human resources personnel have to help manage and train thousands of existing onboard crew, as well as administer contracts with returning crew. So, it is often far more efficient and cost-effective to outsource recruitment of new crew to local, specialist agencies who can screen, interview and hire personnel on their behalf.
The cruise lines pay their agencies a fee for each new crew member that is successfully hired and placed onboard.
Many agencies are set-up and managed by former cruise ship personnel. These recruiters understand the demands of working onboard cruise ships and are able to evaluate a candidate’s ability to be successful at sea.
Some smaller agencies work for one or two cruise lines or concessionaire clients and may specialize in providing staff for one particular department onboard. This is often the department that the owner of the agency once worked in and has the expertise to find the right staff, such as Food & Beverage, Casino, Photography, and Gift Shops.
The larger agencies will often recruit across a wide range of departments onboard and work on behalf of several cruise lines or concessionary company clients. Some cruise lines refer to these agencies as Official Hiring Partners.
Keep in mind that many cruise ship agencies have specific geographic catchment areas and they are only allowed to deal with citizens of that locality or nationality.
This means, for example, that you may be wasting your time sending your application package to an agency in the UK, if you are from another part of Europe.
However, if you can’t find an agency in your home country, consider applying to one of the larger agencies like www.VHospitality.net or www.internationalservices.fr or www.cast-a-way.com. These bigger companies generally hire staff internationally.
Also, if you work with an agency, don’t be surprised if you have two or more interviews before landing the position.
In some cases the agency may assess your capabilities as part of a screening interview and then ‘recommend’ you to the cruise line which may interview you themselves (often via Skype or telephone).
Occasionally, the cruise line will totally trust the judgment of the agency and leave all hiring in their capable hands.
One of the main advantages of applying for a cruise ship job through a recruitment agency is that the agency has a real, vested interest in helping you get a job, if you’re qualified. This is because they only get paid for each employee that actually gets hired and joins the cruise line.
Watch Out for Cruise Recruitment Scams
You must to be extremely careful when working with a cruise ship recruiting agency because there are many online and offline cruise recruitment scams.
One rule of thumb to keep in mind: a legitimate agency will not charge fees to applicants.
In many countries including US, Canada, UK, and Australia, it’s illegal for recruitment agencies to charge a fee to the applicant as the cruise line they work with should pay the fee.
Unfortunately in many other countries, it is not illegal to charge a fee and some agencies take advantage of candidates.
Try to find a recruiting agency that doesn’t charge a fee to its applicants. There are many agencies who work solely on commission. Fortunately, these are also the ones who will be the most motivated to get you the job of your dreams!
Cruise lines such as Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises and Azamara Club Cruises even mention the evidence of scams on the employment pages of their websites. They warn potential cruise applicants to be aware of scams that are enticing prospective crew members to send registration fees and copies of their passport.
Additionally, there are numerous cruise services-type websites that solicit fees, misrepresent themselves as hiring agents for the cruise lines or offer to blast your resume to cruise recruiters.
Be very skeptical if you are asked to send money. Also, be careful where you post your resume (especially if you are giving out personal details).
Get Hired for A Cruise Ship Job 3x Faster
Working on cruise ships can be the adventure of a lifetime. Cruise ships travel to more than 100 countries around the world and to all seven continents.
Cruise ship jobs offer an amazing opportunity to earn an attractive salary, save money and gain valuable career experience.
With more than 200 thousand people working on more than 550 cruise ships around the world, there are cruise job opportunities available for everyone from accountants to zoologists.
The more you know about the cruise industry and working on ships, the more likely you are to get hired. So make sure to give yourself the advantage of learning as much as you can about working on cruise ships. Start Now: Click here to get your own FREE copy of The Insider’s Guide to Cruise Ship Jobs