Some of the most coveted positions in the marine hospitality world are cruise ship chef jobs. For those passionate about the culinary arts, these careers offer exciting new avenues, higher-than-normal pay – for developing countries at least – and excellent exposure.
So how do you get a job on a cruise ship?
The first thing to do is to determine whether or not you are indeed cut out for this type of job. Understand the environment you will be working in and how ready you are for it. Cruise ship chef jobs involve working seven days a week for between four to six months, and often 14 hours a day.
This also means often working through holidays such as Diwali, Christmas and New Year, and being far away from family at this time. You will get a couple of months off between contracts but there is no guarantee that these will coincide with the holiday season back home.
Staff live at sea for the entire duration of the contract. Those with a tendency to fall sea sick often might want to consider how this might affect their work. Mild seasickness is common and you get over it and used to it quickly. But more persistent conditions can become a liability.
Another factor to consider is being away from family, friends and familiar people for months on end. Communication back home is limited but certainly available. You will have to make do with short calls that depend on internet connectivity most days.
The next thing to do when trying to get a cruise ship chef job is to check whether you have the qualifications, experience and most importantly, aptitude for the job. Do you want to be a chef? Do you have a passion for cooking good food, presenting beautiful dishes, serving people and interacting with them?
Check cruise ship company websites for various posts and check the qualifications and experience required. Some positions ask for a year or two of similar work experience in a shore-based job. If you don’t have the requirements, you can work towards it and perhaps land a better position on board instead of having to start at the very bottom of the hierarchy.
While it is possible to get cruise ship chef jobs by applying directly, it is probably a better shot to go through recruitment agencies. Do your research on various cruise ship recruitment agencies and be aware of fly-by-night operators and scamsters. Good recruitment agencies like Kamaxi Overseas Consultants work with reputed cruise ship companies, and you can always cross reference information.
Always check the position you are applying for and tweak your CV to reflect the work experience, volunteer work and qualifications they want in a prospective employee. For example, it helps to highlight that you handled the dessert bar at your local café if you are applying for the job of a pastry chef, even if you had more experience cooking Chinese food at a pan-Asian restaurant.
The final process to get a cruise ship chef job includes a preliminary interview to check whether you are suitable. If you are not shortlisted for the job, the recruitment agency will inform you of your shortcomings so you can work towards it.
If you are shortlisted, there will be a technical interview to grasp your knowledge of the job at hand. After this, you will be interviewed by the cruise ship company – as opposed to being interviewed by the recruitment agency in earlier rounds.
Once you are selected, the recruitment agency will inform you of all the necessary documents required and how to process them. These include visas, STCW, police clearance, medicals and vaccinations, seaman’s book, etc.
You will then receive a joining date and a short orientation of what to expect during travel and on your first contract on board.