Cruise Ship Employment
read carefully the following section before you
e-mail us inquires. You might be able to find the
fact that most of the major cruise lines are
based in the United States, the information and
requirements listed below apply to these
1. Can I apply
for employment with a major cruise line in case I
live outside the United States?
Yes, all the major cruise lines
hire crew members from all over the world.
Although these cruise lines are based in the
United States, they are all registered in Panama,
Liberia or the Bahamas and the employment
regulations are slightly different.
2. What kind of
official documentation is required in order to
obtain employment with an U.S. based cruise line
(i.e. passports, visas etc.)?
U.S. and Canadian citizens need
just a passport, valid for at least three months
after the end of the contract. All other
nationalities need a C1-D U.S. seaman's visa,
which is easy to obtain (it takes about one-two
business days) from any U.S. consulate abroad.
3. What are the
health requirements i.e. immunization, medical
Once offered a contract by a
cruise line, all applicants must pass a medical
examinations by designated by the particular
cruise line physicians (cruise lines have their
own list of physicians for every country).
Applicants will be responsible for the cost of
the examination (about 60-70 $US), some cruise
lines might reimburse crew members for that cost
after joining the vessel. Immunization generally
is not required, sometimes it is offered onboard
4. What about
healthcare and dental coverage while onboard a
There is a full health coverage
onboard the ship, U.S. citizens are covered
ashore, as well (in the USA only). It is
recommended to buy a travel medical insurance
before joining a ship, which sails outside the
U.S. ( as most of the ships do). Cruise lines do
not provide dental coverage except in cases of
extreme emergencies. They could provide
assistance in finding a dentist ashore, but in
most cases the crew member is responsible for the
cost of treatment.
5. Is the crew
member responsible for transportation to and from
No, in case you are offered a
contract by a cruise line, they will be
responsible for the return air transportation
between the nearest international airport to your
home and the port of embarkation, wherever in the
world that port will be. Since cruise lines are
flying thousands of people every day (passengers
and crew), they get tickets from the airlines at
a very low price.
6. What are the
tax laws regarding income earned on a cruise
U.S. citizens get taxes
deducted directly from their pay checks, any
other nationality crew members have their own
responsibility to declare the income earned on a
7. Do cruise
lines provide benefits i.e. paid vacation,
pension plan etc.?
No, cruise lines do not provide
paid vacation or pension plans.
8. Is the food
and accommodation free for crew members onboard a
cruise ship and what are the living arrangements
Yes, this is what makes a
cruise ship career financially attractive and
compensates for the lack of employment benefits
(paid vacation etc.). Crew members almost do not
have any expenses while onboard a vessel. Living
arrangements vary by cruise line, but mostly by
shipboard position. Senior officers enjoy single
cabins, in general two employees share a cabin
with a shower, WC and a TV set. The best
accommodations are reserved for passengers, of
there uniform requirements? If so, who provides
Yes, there are uniforms
required, provided by the cruise line with a very
few exceptions (Guest Entertainers, Guest
Musicians). There is a dress code for every
evening onboard a cruise ship i.e. formal night,
semi-formal night or casual night. Crew members,
working in passenger areas of the vessel are
expected to follow the dress code.
10. Do crew
members get to see the ports which the ship is
Yes, crew members are free to
visit the ports of call when they are not on
duty. Leisure time varies between shipboard
positions (Guest Entertainers could perform once
or a few times a week, other positions require
six to eight hours work a day), after all
applicants get paid by cruise lines to work on
11. Are there
any recreational areas on a cruise ship for crew
Yes, every modern cruise vessel
is equipped with a crew fitness center, a crew
recreation room (simply crew bar) and a crew deck
with a swimming pool and jacuzzi. In general
cruise lines are taking a very good care of the
well being of the crew members, since it could
affect the quality of work and passenger service.
12. Are the
employees allowed to purchase goods onboard
cruise ships and do they get any discounts.
Yes, crew members enjoy duty
free prices onboard a cruise ships, they also get
up to 25% discount on goods purchased in the
onboard boutique shops.
13. What are
the policies of cruise lines towards use of drugs
Zero tolerance, crew members get fired, disembarked and
submitted to local authorities immediately with
no exceptions, regardless of ship's location.
There are also frequent drug tests performed
onboard, any applicant thinking of drugs use
while on a ship, should simply forget about
cruise lines employment. There is no way
14. What is the
standard length of a contract on a cruise ship?
Most cruise lines offer minimum
four to six months contracts, depending on the
cruise line or/and position, contracts could be
extended or employees could take time off and
then go back for another contract.
15. What are
the regulations regarding premature termination
The contract with a cruise line
will be automatically terminated at the date
stated on the contract as an end date. It could
be renewed by mutual agreement between employee
(contractor) and the cruise line. In case the
employee (contractor) wishes to terminate the
contract earlier than the end date, the employee
(contractor) will be responsible for the cost of
transportation going back home. In case a crew
member gets fired from the job, the cruise line
will be responsible for the return
transportation, but in this case the crew member
can not return to the same cruise line for
16. What are
the destinations for cruise ships and can
employees choose a destination that they would
like to work (Southeast Asia, Caribbean, etc.) or
is that up to the cruise lines to decide?
Cruise lines offer destinations
worldwide, but the biggest markets for the cruise
industry are the Caribbean (all seasons), Alaska
and Europe (in the summer). Most of the cruise
lines do not offer a choice for first time
employees, they hire wherever they have openings,
after one or two contracts employees get some
choice of ships and destinations.
17. Are the
crew members expected to perform some duties
other than their work onboard?
Some cruise lines require all
the crew members to participate in weekly safety
drills (demonstrating safety equipment to
passengers, life jackets etc.)
18. After all,
what are the plus and minus sides about working
on a cruise ship in general?
Cruise Ships Employment is not
suitable just for every person. There is a great
amount of discipline and hard work required.
Applicants should be "team players" and
enjoy working with people, to be able to live and
share relatively limited space with fellow crew
members, to work away from home for a long period
of time (a few months) and before everything else
to be very much service orientated. There is
nothing more important than quality of service
onboard of a cruise ship. Passengers are always
right, even when they are wrong.
On the other hand there are
numerous advantages about working on cruise
ships. Saving substantial amount of money for a
short period of time, traveling around the world,
meeting people from many different nationalities
and cultures, developing professional skills and
gaining working experience.
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Ship Employment Agency - All rights reserved