If you've got a taste for adventure, especially of the seafaring variety, working on a cruise line might be the perfect career option. Even better, there are a wide variety of cruise ship jobs available, from tour manager to entertainment coordinator to photographer, to suit all levels of experience and education. Whether you're fresh out of college or of retirement age, there's a cruise ship job that might be right for you.
For the highest-paying positions aboard cruise ships, a bachelor's degree is needed. Managerial positions such as cruise directors and their assistants and production managers require university education. In most other positions, experience can trump education. Jobs such as naturalist, photographer, shore excursion manager, entertainers, dance instructors and casino staff all stress previous hospitality experience and especially cruise experience over any particular type of training or education. Certification may be required for select positions such as water sport instructors, lifeguards and dive instructors.
If you're just out of college with no travel experience you may find it difficult to find a position. Cruise ships are looking for staff who have traveled and are comfortable in diverse environments. Volunteer experience with different cultures, a few weeks of backpacking or a stint abroad working will all make your CV look more attractive. Customer service experience is also invaluable, whether it be in a call center or restaurant or as a receptionist. Specific office experience such as in human resources is key to landing coveted front-office jobs on cruise ships, jobs that tend to pay better and deliver more benefits, free time and privileges. Another option for college-age applicants is seasonal employment.
Your CV and Cover Letter
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In addition to highlighting previous hospitality service or other customer service experience, your CV and cover letter should mention personality traits that would serve you well in a cruise environment. Examples might be working well under pressure, a high comfort level with diverse environments, people skills and love of travel. Make sure to detail any traveling you've done and foreign language ability. Include your education as well as relevant hospitality certificates or college training. As with any CV, make sure it's typed, keep it to 1-2 pages maximum, include your current address and phone number and a professional photo if required, and send it in a standard format such as Microsoft Word or PDF. Whether on the CV or separately, be prepared to list two or three references with their names and phone numbers.
Do your research so that you know what specific job you want to apply for, then check the careers section of cruise company websites. Whether you apply online or the company sends you an application, be sure to tailor your CV and cover letter to the job you are applying for. If the job search is successful, you may be asked to sign a six-month contract that may be either extended or renewed, depending on your performance. You likely will be required to get medical exam to obtain a certificate of health. Also, if the cruise line that hires you calls at ports outside the United States, you may need visas for those countries.
Alana Vye is a Canadian writer living abroad. She had a Bachelor of Arts in English literature from the University of Toronto and has worked in online marketing and publicity. She's also an avid traveler who has visited Asia, Europe and Central America.