Sailing the High Seas: Employment in the Cruise Ship Industry
As long as you know what youâ€™re getting yourself into, working on a cruise ship can provide a valuable experience. Before beginning your search, however, you should consider the realities: finding a job on a ship is tough, surviving a 12 to 14-hour workday is tougher, and surviving the occasional bout of seasickness is just plain miserable. But if youâ€™re willing to tough it out, having a job on a cruise ship offers its own unique rewards: one can travel around the world on a floating resort and get paid quite a bit of money for it!
If youâ€™re looking for a job on a cruise ship, youâ€™re going to need quite a few weapons in your arsenal as well as the patience to fill out lots of paperwork. In the end, though, the memories and the money will be well worth the time you put into it.
FILLING OUT AN APPLICATION
Before you start trying to get a job on a cruise ship, keep in mind that you should already have a few years of prior work experience, especially in the specific job youâ€™re applying for. A cruise ship is not a place where one can apply for all jobs availableâ€”in such an enclosed environment, a skilled and experienced worker is more preferable than a juggernaut. Check online with these companies or on online cruise listing sites to see if they have any vacancies.
A sure option is to use a recruitment agency: these groups winnow the pool of applicants for the cruise company by performing background checks, making sure all experience and references are legitimate, training any potential employees and arranging all necessary medical examinations.
Research the companies you are applying for, and make sure you send in a thorough resume highlighting your experience as well as your application. Since these are usually international companies, your ability to get a visa and passport are key.
If you are called in for an interview, bring your A-game to the table. Let your interviewer know your passions, pursuits, education, and motivation for the job. If this is a summer job, communicate to you interviewer that youâ€™re looking for something more temporaryâ€”nearly all cruise ship companies offer contracts for about 6 months at a time with the opportunity to extend it after a compulsory vacation.
YOU HAVE THE JOBâ€¦NOW WHAT?
So you struggled through the interview process and youâ€™re to leave their port of call in a specified amount of time! Itâ€™s now your turn to prepare for your departure.
Usually the company will set up some sort of job training classes for you, educating you in protocol, emergency procedure, and the workings of the ship. You will have to fill out the necessary paperwork with the company and the Department of State. If you do not have a passport, file for one immediately. Depending on what country your employers operate out of, you will have to fill out the appropriate paperwork for it.
If you are not a US citizen, you will not need a green card; instead, you (or your agency on your behalf) will have to file the US C1 (transit) B2 (Visitor) and D (seaman) visa with your local Embassy in order to dock at US ports. These, plus your letter of employment, will allow you to enter US territory.
You will also have to travel on your own to your starting port, and pay a travel deposit of $300-$500 to your company. This money will be returned to you when you leave.
Though you canâ€™t join the traveling passengers in their Club Med-like accommodations, once onboard, youâ€™ll have access to your own facilities, bunks, and free medical care. The job will certainly have its difficult moments, but the benefits and experiences will last a lifetime and serve well to anyone thinking of entering the hospitality industry.