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Is working on a Cruise Ship a good way to see the world?


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Thorn Tree Refugee
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Joined: December 20th, 2010

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Tags: cruise ship, cruise line, travel, make money, save
  • Added on: December 21st, 2010
I just graduated college and of course have student loans. I was thinking of working on a cruise ship because I really want to travel, but at the same time I can save money because I won't have to worry about housing and food. Did anyone do this, how did it work out or if you have any input at all please I'd love to hear it?

Not the first Travis

Future Expat
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Joined: May 27th, 2004
Location: Mah-Jongg, Mexico

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  • Added on: December 21st, 2010
I haven't done it, but a friend of mine from Ireland did. He loved it. Made quite a bit of money, got to see lots of ports, made great friends. Only drawback might be that the crew on ships tend to head straight to the bar when they're in port. I guess it's quite a party group. He's a bit of a boozebag now, but then he's Irish, so maybe that was in the cards all along. :lol:

Seriously, he loved it and still has friends he visits in different parts of the world that he used to work with on the ships.


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Thorn Tree Refugee
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Joined: February 10th, 2010
Location: Albuquerque, NM

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  • Added on: December 27th, 2010
I was just wondering about this! I'm pretty much in the same boat as you (lol pun?): trying to figure out what I want to do after school, wanting to travel but also wanting to save money! Working on a cruise ship seemed like a decent enough idea but I don't know that much about it-- so I'll be stalking this thread. 8-)

travel droppings

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Lost in Place
Posts: 86
Joined: July 7th, 2009

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  • Added on: January 8th, 2011
After working on ships for 3 years, I suppose I am qualified to answer this question. Yes, ships are a great way to travel to different places in the world. You meet loads of great people and yes, you drink a lot. More than I ever drank in College, in fact. I worked for 2 different lines on about 6 or 7 ships. I saved a lot as well.

Getting the job is simple enough. What are your skills? What do you want to do onboard? Get your resume together for that job. Remember, every ship is like a town, thus they need to hire people to do every job you could imagine. Accounting, musicians, cooks, spa staff, front desk, shore excursions sales, shop sales, IT, etc.

For the cover letter, it helps to make a new one for each cruise line you apply to. Mention somewhere that you would be a good fit for their line because you can relate to their clientele. I never had an in person interview, just over the phone, and got hired right away.

I went to college for video production, so I got a job as the broadcast technician.

Go to each cruise lines official website and find the "career" section or the "employment" section. They have onboard jobs listed there.

Onboard, you work 7 days a week, and are generally on call when you arent working. Towards the end of my ship career, I was only putting about 2-6 hours of actual "work" per day. That was on Holland America cruise lines.

If you want to have fun and party, get a job on carnival, royal or norwegian cruise lines. If you want an easier job go to Holland America. Their old clientele doesnt move very fast, so the work is easy. I recommend working for Royal or Norwegian though. Get your sea legs and live it up with a bigger crew and bigger ships, then apply to a different company that pays more. Thats how you move up.

One of the huge downsides with ships is that you never really get to experience each place. You are only in each port for a matter of hours, so you can go on tour or explore by yourself. Or what I generally did, get a couple friends, find the nearest bar with the least amount of passengers and drink ourselves silly.

In the caribbean, I didnt care that I had such a short amount of time off because I never really cared to travel there. When it bugged me was in Europe when I wanted to go inland but couldnt because I always had to be back onboard. Sometimes you get an overnight or two in port, like in Istanbul, so you can go further in and experience things or just stay out partying in Taxim Square until 4am. (that's hard to do during Ramadan, by the way)

Another sad part is the amount of waste that goes on with cruise ships. They waste so much food every day it is really disappointing. They also are known for dumping waste and creating lots of pollution. One of the jokes, I think, is how the new ships are being sold as "the cleanest in the industry". Thats correct, but only because the industry is such shite, you dont have to try very hard to be the Cleanest.

Also, know that the crew is not mistreated, nor are they underpaid. Even the cooks, servers and housekeepers are making a grand or two a month. A lot of people feel sorry for them, but they work hard and they play hard. Especially at the monthly crew parties with free drinks for everyone.

As a member of the officer staff I had a room steward clean my cabin every other day and do my laundry and I tipped him $20 per week. Multiply that by doing at least 20 other crew cabins and he is doing OK on tips alone. And the passenger stewards get paid more. Not too bad, even by USA standards.

Over all, I am incredibly glad I did it, and if anything happens to me financially, I know I can always go back and will always have a job at my home away from home.

Let me know if you have any questions. Also check out this article I wrote about my time working onboard cruise ships. Let me know if you have any questions.
Work and Travel Abroad: A few ways I have worked my way around the world
All Ways Australia - Photos and tour reviews from the Outback


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Thorn Tree Refugee
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Joined: February 25th, 2011

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  • Added on: May 13th, 2011
I'm not going to be able to say much that hasn't been said in the last fantastic post since I've never worked on a cruise ship myself.

However it is something I've read quite a bit into recently. The general consensus I got was that you have to be the type to want to work hard and play harder. How much you work will depend on your role (I believe waiting staff and the like work the longest hours), but it seems that after each shift is finished, everybody drinks.

Don't know if this was mentioned, but you will live in a very small, shared room, most likely with no window. But you're probably not going to be spending much time in there anyway.

So yeah, if you can put up with a complete lack of privacy, don't mind hard work, and like to drink alot, it could be the right job for you!

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