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How to Apply for Cruise Ship Jobs

Working in a cruise ship is one of the most unique and fulfilling experiences. You get to travel around the world and see the world’s most beautiful cities – for free! Cruising is a fast growing business and is expanding every year. This creates a lot of jobs for individuals who are in the hospitality industry.


how to apply for cruise ship jobs


So how do you apply for cruise ship jobs? First of all, let us look at the lobs available in cruise ships.


Which Jobs are Available in Cruise Ships?

As you will know by now, a cruise ship is a floating hotel or resorts, whatever you want to call it. A large chuck of the jobs available are within the hospitality sector and include the following:


Food and Beverage

  • Baker

  • Bar Back
  • Bar Manager
  • Bartender
  • Buffet Server
  • Butcher
  • Busboys
  • Chef de Partie
  • Cocktail Server
  • Dining Room Head Waiter
  • Dining Room Manager
  • Executive Chef
  • Food and Beverages Manager
  • General Cook
  • Maitre d' Hotel
  • Pastry Chef
  • Sous Chef
  • Wine Steward



  • Cabin Steward/ess
  • Chief Cabin Steward
  • Chief Steward/Housekeeper
  • Laundry Staff


Hotel Administration

  • Accountant
  • Bellman
  • Computer Systems Manager/IT
  • Gift Shop Manager
  • Gift Shop Sales Assistant
  • Hotel Manager
  • IT Staff
  • Program Coordinator
  • Receptionist

And many more.


Which are the Top 10 Largest Cruise Lines?

Here are the top 10 largest cruise lines in the world where you may find a job:

  • Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC)
  • Carnival Corporation
  • Royal Caribbean Group
  • NCLH – Nowergian
  • Genting Hong Kong – Dream Cruises
  • Disney Cruise Line (DCL)
  • Hurtigruten AS
  • Virgin Cruises
  • Fred Olsen Cruise Lines
  • Marella Cruises


Do Your Research

Before you even apply, do your research about the cruise ship. Remember that just like hotels, cruise ships are different in terms of what they offer and the clientele they attract. Also do a research about working in cruise ships and the challenges you may have to deal with. Read blogs written by people who have worked in cruise ships, talk to friends who have worked there. Here is a great blog that talks about the pros and cons of working in a cruise ship. 


Cruise ship crew life can be intense: long hours, no days off for months, lots of rules, demanding guests, small living quarters and little to no privacy. But working on ships also allows you to travel to places some only dream of while making some amazing connections with fellow seafarers from all over the world.


Here are some of the pros of working in the cruise ship:

  • You get paid to travel. How amazing!
  • You save money - You live where you work, so you don’t spend your money on rental and travel to and from work, electricity, water, etc.
  • You get free medical care.
  • Flights to and from the ship are provided.
  • You get 6 – 8 week vacations between contracts.
  • You get crew discounts.
  • You get international connections.
  • Your CV gets a major boost.


Here are the cons of working in cruise ships:

  • You don’t get off days. Contracts are 4 – 9 months.
  • You work long hours.
  • You are always on standby.
  • If you have sea sickness, do not consider working in cruise ships.
  • You are in a confined space.
  • Mandatory certifications.
  • You are working while others are on holiday.
  • You have to meet very high customer expectations.


Qualifications and Experience

Make sure you have the right qualifications and experience for the job you are applying for.  Update your CV to demonstrate your suitability for the job. It is much easier to get the job if you have experience in a 5 star hospitality establishment.


Recruiters have only a few seconds to look at your CV so make sure you prepare a clear, brief, informative and well styled CV. If it is difficult to read or find out about you, they simply will not bother. Remember, there are thousands of other CVs waiting for their attention.


Do not be the jerk of all trades. For example:

if you have some experience in catering, apply for relevant positions within the Food and Beverages department;

  • do not apply for senior positions if you have no or little previous experience; and
  • do not apply for jobs which require qualifications you don't hold – you will be wasting your time and the recruiter’s time.


How to Apply?

Once your CV is ready there are several ways to look for a job on a ship:

  • You can apply directly to a cruise line on their website or to their official hiring partners throughout the world. This is often the best way to see real time jobs.
  • You can apply through a concessionaire - a company contracted to operate spa, retail, photography or entertainment on the ship.
  • You can apply online via a dedicated job board such as All Cruise Jobs. As well as uploading your CV to All Cruise Jobs, be proactive and search and apply for relevant jobs on the site. Sign up for regular job alerts (jobs by email) to find out about new job vacancies.
  • You can attend a Cruise Job Fair – this is the ultimate networking platform to meet face to face with many leading recruiters in person, hand out your CV and discuss job opportunities and your experience.


You must consider that you will need to have a STCW Certificate to work in a cruise ship. 


What is STCW Certificate? 

STCW is an acronym for ‘Standards of Training, Certification, and Watchkeeping.’ It was first introduced in 1978 to set a standard set of rules, regulations, and safety standards for marine training internationally and they were amended and updated with STCW ‘95. Today, it is mandatory for every seafarer to undergo STCW Certificate Course if they wish to work on a commercial vessel – such as a merchant ship, ferry, cruise ship, or a superyacht. 


Since the STCW 2010 came into effect, you will have to renew your certificate every five years. You will have to go through revalidation courses to constantly update yourself with the knowledge and guidelines. This is done to keep the seafarers updated with the latest security and survival techniques. Refresher Courses are shorter in duration.


What do you learn in STCW?

It takes more or less 11 days to complete an STCW. It is a set of multiple basic safety courses that are required for you to complete if you aim to work on commercial vessels including cruise ships and yatchts. This training covers five basic aspects of marine safety.

  • Fire Fighting and Fire Prevention (FF&FP).
  • Personal Safety Social Responsibilities (PSSR).
  • Proficiency in Designated Security Duties (PDSD).
  • STCW Proficiency in Elementary First Aid (EFA).
  • Sea Survival – Personal Survival Techniques (PST).
  • Let’s understand each of them individually.


Fire Fighting and Fire Prevention (FF&FP)

FF&FP training runs for 3 days and covers theory and practical training. In this training, you will learn about the necessary precautions to minimize fire hazards, what conditions may cause fire, and how to control/extinguish them aboard ships. This training includes practicals on how you may act in such situations. These practicals will give you a clear idea of how to use firefighting equipment, breathing apparatus, safety during such situations, and rescue operations.

Training mainly includes:

  • Fighting and extinguishing fires.
  • Minimising the risk of fire.
  • Maintaining a state of preparedness to deal with such situations.
  • The Fire Triangle: Elements that cause fire and explosion.
  • Classification of Fire and applicable extinguishing agents.
  • Types and Sources of Ignition.
  • Location of fire-fighting appliances and emergency escape routes.
  • Fire and Smoke alarm system.
  • Live fire-fighting.
  • Use of breathing and other safety apparatus.
  • Rescue scenarios.
  • Personal Safety & Social Responsibilities (PSSR)
  • Personal Safety & Social Responsibilities (PSSR) is a mandatory offshore training course that covers basic safety and general social responsibilities as a seafarer. It is a 2-days course that covers the following basics:
  • Understanding and complying with emergency procedures.
  • Understanding safe working practices.
  • Contributing to effective human relationships on the ship.
  • Understanding orders and your duties as a seafarer.
  • Types of emergencies that may occur.
  • Knowledge of shipboard contingency plans in response to emergencies.
  • Basic environment protection and anti-pollution measurements.
  • Social responsibilities.


Proficiency in Designated Security Duties (PDSD)

Proficiency in Designated Security Duties is required to work on ISPS (International Ship and Port Facility Security) compliant vessels, such as international passenger ships, superyachts, and cargo ships of 500 tons and above. This 2-days high-level course was introduced in STCW 2010 that provides detailed and high-class training with onboard security. This is a mandatory course for all seafarers since 2010.

In this course, you will learn about:

  • How to maintain a ship’s security plan.
  • Recognise security risks, threats, and how to counter them.
  • Regular security inspections of the ship.
  • Proper use of security equipment and systems. 
  • Other information includes the ISPS Code, Introduction to Maritime Security, Key Threats, Plans, Policies & Procedures, and Communication & Reporting.


STCW Proficiency in Elementary First-Aid (EFA)

STCW First-Aid course is a 2-days course that covers all the basic theoretical and practical first-aid knowledge for emergency situations. All the seafarers should have first-aid knowledge in case of emergencies on board. This course consists of:

  • Dealing with casualty emergencies.
  • Basic Life Support (CPR).
  • Casualty transport.
  • Priorities of Treatment.
  • Shock management.
  • Bandaging.
  • Tending to wounds, bleeding, burns, and scalds.


Sea Survival – Personal Survival Techniques (PST)

STCW Sea Survival or Personal Survival Techniques (PST) is a 2-days course that focuses on how you would keep yourself safe and alive in dire situations. This course will cover theory and practical for demonstration and training purposes. A candidate willing to take this course must be physically and medically fit and they should have a document stating the same. This is a mandatory course for seafarers.

Personal Survival Techniques consists of:

  • Introduction to life-saving equipment and how to use them.
  • Emergency situations one may face onboard.
  • Equipment in Survival Craft.
  • Principles concerning survival.
  • The practicals may include:
  • How to use a life jacket.
  • How to use an immersion suit.
  • Proper diving techniques from various heights.
  • Flipping and correcting inverted rafts in the water while wearing safety equipment.
  • Boarding a life raft and proper methods to do so to increase the chance of survival.
  • Keeping afloat.
  • Properly using drogue or anchor.
  • Operating radio and other location devices.


If you would like to get the STCW Certificate, click here


Which Websites Advertise Cruise Ship Jobs

Here are a few useful websites that advertise cruise ship jobs:


Cruise ship Recruitment Agencies in South Africa

If you are in South Africca, here are some recruitment agencies that you can contact to land a job in cruise ships. They also help recruit Zimbabweans, Namibians, Swazis and other nationals close to South Africa.


Cruise Alternatives

Hiring agents in SA for Carnival Cruise Lines, Celebrity Cruise Lines, Holland America, Norwegian Cruise Lines, Royal Caribbean and Silversea Cruise Lines. Email info@cruisealternatives.comcvs@cruisealternatives.com  or phone 012 654 5030


Gourmet Recruitment International

Gourmet Recruitment International specialises in hospitality job and hiring for Holland America Lines, Seabourn Cruise Line, SeaDream Yacht Club, Norwegian Cruise Line and Crystal Cruises. Click here to see the latest jobs they have available. They also have a Twitter page (in the name of Samantha Hurley, the owner) and Facebook page - these social media pages are well worth looking at, as additional jobs are listed there which are not listed elsewhere. Email them at cruise@grisa.co.za. Whilst they are based in South Africa; they also take applications from Namibia and Zimbabwe.


Atlantic Medical Recruitment

Atlantic Medical Recruitment is suitable for those who are members of the medical fraternity. Email russell@shipsdoctor.co.za or phone 082 376 1175.


Blue Ensign

Blue Ensign are the agents in SA recruiting for Cunard, Holland America, P&O Cruises, Princess Cruises and Seabourn. Email them your CV, a copy of your passport and relevant certificates as well as two references to info@blueensign.co.za. For more info phone 021 556 7658. Blue Ensign are based at number 21 Blaauwberg Road in Table View, Cape Town.


Are you planning to work in cruise ships or you are already working? Have your got a cruise ship job through this article? I hope this blog helps you. Please leave us a comment below.


There are a number of distance learning courses you can also take to boost your chances of finding a job in cruise ships. Enrol now and live your dream!


Leave a comment. 


Kind Regards, 


Samkeliso Nkwanyane

Hospitality Coach, Speaker and Consultant