In 2017, former cruise crew member website Crew Center estimated that around 250,000 people worked on cruise ships. Cruise ship companies can employ anywhere from a few dozens to more than a thousand crew members on a vessel depending on its size. So what does everyone do on board?
Cruise ship jobs largely emulate hospitality jobs, so you can be assured that if there’s a job at a resort, there will probably be a similar one on board. Large cruise ship companies such as Princess Cruises, Carnival Cruises, Royal Caribbean Cruises, Norwegian and others tend to list the employment opportunities they offer by department.
One of the main departments is Food & Beverage, and this is where many job-seekers from developing nations find their feet. Here, they are looking for people who enjoy being creative with food and drink, and also those who are good with customer interaction. Cruise ships jobs for bakers, chefs, bartenders, utility personnel, stewards and more come under this department. For those in positions that require customer interaction, for example a maitre d’, for knowing a foreign language can be especially helpful.
Some cruise ships have job opportunities for specific talents. Only recently, Viking Crew was looking for an experienced and qualified molecular cuisine chef with senior sous chef experience. Opportunities like these allow cruise ship chefs to experiment with food and use the physical and chemical transformations that occur during the cooking process to create exciting experiences.
Another sector that sees many crew from South Asian countries is housekeeping. This department is responsible for maintaining cleanliness across guest areas, including rooms and open decks, and also help with providing laundry service. They are most busy when a new voyage begins, needing to ensure rooms are ready for embarking guests, help disembarking passengers with their luggage and new arrivals with theirs.
Job opportunities here include utility cleaners, laundry stewards, housekeepers or stateroom attendants, and sometimes even what TUI Cruises calls a dresser – personnel responsible for looking after the housekeeping needs of the artist ensemble on board, from helping them get dressed or changed quickly between shows, cleaning up backstage and also ensuring they have food and drink.
The pursers department includes roles that connect with guests a lot. They are most often seen in roles on the front desk where they ensure high quality customer service, answering telephone calls, assisting guests with shore excursions or account queries, and resolving issues. These roles offer great progression into hotel management.
In addition, there are departments that deal with anything and everything that will help improve the guest experience and overall safety. The cruise staff team, for example, schedules innovative and exciting activities every day for guests, including cooking demos, zumba classes, games, themed parties, hosting karaoke and more. In a similar role are those engaged with youth programmes and baby-sitting. They are classed together with entertainment shows such as dance troupes, bands, performers and other artists, as well as retail, wellness departments and casino where staff help sell unique gifts – often tax-free, spa packages and ensure they have a great time at the slots respectively.
Dozens of people also work behind the scenes in non-hospitality cruise ship jobs. These include crew who help keep the ship running smoothly – engineers, technicians, navigation officers, information technology and computer specialists.
Other various cruise ship jobs include photographers and videographers who help guests document their holiday, production technicians who help entertainment troupes with stage management, and the medical staff who aid those who feel ill and also offer emergency paramedical treatment.
Tying all of these together is the human resources department which works with the shore team to look after crew and ensure the cruise ship has optimal staff conditions on board at all times.