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February 1, 2018

What’s It Like To Work On A Cruise Ship?


Are you interested in joining the thousands of worldwide employees who are proud to be working on cruise ships? Working on a cruise ship offer employees a career like no other, where they are individually supported, empowered, and recognized.

Working at sea can be a challenging new opportunity. Here are answers to some essential questions you might have when considering cruise ship employment… but please remember always be aware of your own company policies!

What are the requirements for onboard employment?

While specific position requirements depend on the job you are interested in, there are some essential requirements that all crew must meet to work onboard:

  • Be 18 years of age or older
  • Hold a valid STCW certificates for the following:
    • STCW Reg VI/I section A-VI/1-2 in Fire Prevention and Fire Fighting.
    • STCW Reg VI/I section A-VI/1-1 in Proficiency In Security Awareness.
    • STCW Reg VI/I section A-VI/1-1 in Personal Survival Techniques.
    • STCW Reg VI/I section A-VI/1-1 in Proficiency in Elementary First Aid.
    • STCW Reg VI/I section A-VI/1-1 in Personal Safety and Social Responsibilities
  • Be able to pass a criminal background check
  • Hold a valid passport
  • Have a ENG1 medical check
  • Meet the English fluency requirements relevant to your position

What is a STCW 95 + 2010 certificate?

This is the compulsory certificate required to work on commercial vessels over 24 meters in length.  It includes all of the essential codes of conduct and key skills such as Sea Survival, Fire Fighting and Ship Security, giving you the necessary skills and qualifications to kick-start your career in this prestigious industry. It is available as a 5 day intensive course through The Bristol Maritime Academy.

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How do I get a medical certificate?

This extensive examination is at the employee’s expense and can be conducted through a recognised doctor found here:

You’ll be advised which one is closest to you. Once this is completed and approved by the cruise ship company, you are cleared to travel and work onboard.

Which ship will I be assigned to?

Shipboard employees are scheduled to vessels based on operational need. This means you could be assigned to any vessel in the fleet depending on where a position is open at the time you are travel-ready. After your first assignment, we will be able to provide details about the next assignment after your leave period.

Do I need travel insurance?

Whilst you will be covered by a form of insurance on board the cruise ship, we suggest you purchase basic travel insurance to cover the cost of lost luggage or injuries that could result from shoreside activities.

Always be aware of your own company policies. 

How long will I be onboard?

Contract lengths vary by position but range between four and ten months. After each contract you will receive vacation before your next assignment. Your daily work schedule while onboard will depend on your particular position.

Will I have my own room?

Accommodations vary depending on the ship and position. Those in non-management positions generally share a cabin with one to three other roommates whereas those in most management positions are entitled to a single cabin.

Can I visit the ports while working onboard?

If you are not scheduled to work during the time the ship is in port, you can disembark the ship with your supervisor’s approval. Occasionally, there are crew-specific activities or tours to participate in.

Safety requirements dictate that a certain number of crew members be present on each vessel at all times. As such, there may occasionally be times when, although not scheduled to work, you will be required to remain onboard while the ship is in port.