Many people dream of working on a cruise ship. Navigating the seas, visiting new places, spending time with rich people, and getting a decent monthly compensation for doing it–cruise ship doesn’t seem like a bad place of work…. But how can you start working on a ship? Where should you apply? And what will happen in an interview with the cruise ship company? We will try to answer the questions in the following paragraphs.


Languages matter, experience doesn’t

Before we look at the step by step guide that will take you from your home to a board of an amazing ship, let’s talk briefly about job requirements. You do not need any special skills, or relevant working experience, to get a job on a ship.

The only requirement are your language skills–you should speak at least two languages. English and German, English and Spanish, and sometimes English and one of the Scandinavian languages, is a perfect combination for this position. You may sometimes do with one language (when you apply for job on a ship that cruises only in US waters, for example), but in such a case you will need to do really well in your interview.


Step by step guide – from your home to cruise ship

Step 1. Visit the web pages of cruise ship companies, apply for the job.

There are more than ten big cruise ship companies operating around the world, and more than twenty smaller companies. All of them have their corporate website, and with some of them, you can apply for a job online. Fill the job application, attach your resume, and do it in a right way. What is the right way? On your application, you should stress that:

  • You are used to spend a lot of time out of home, and you never feel homesick.
  • You do not suffer from seasickness, and actually feel good on the water.
  • You are used to listen to the orders, and do not mind routine and repetitive jobs.
  • To work on a cruise ship has always been one of your dreams, but you understand it goes about a difficult job.
  • You can speak the languages required for the job, on a decent level. And if you can not at the moment, you do your best to learn them before starting the job.
  • You have at least some experience related to the job (a chambermaid, waitress, etc), and if you do not have and experience, you are ready to learn and work hard.

A beautiful cruise ship on the sea. We can see blue waves and blue sky

Step 2. If you can not get a job directly with the cruise ship company, look for recruitment agencies that work with these companies.

Many companies outsource their recruitment, and there are at least seven recruiting agencies that specialize only in cruise ship recruitment. Look for the agencies that get a one time fee from the employer, agencies that won’t take a cut from your salary each and every month.

If this is not clearly defined on their website, call them and ask. In some countries you will be the one who pays the fee (which is illegal in some other countries, and agencies can not ask any money from you), but it is still better to pay a one time commission then to earn 30% less each month, just because a greedy agency takes a heavy cut from your salary each month.

You should apply with few agencies at the same time. Job search is a game of numbers, and waiting for a final reply from one agency can easily jeopardize your plan to start working on the ship the upcoming summer. Apply with three to five agencies, and wait for their reply.

Special Tip: Download the guide in a simple, one-page long PDF, and use it anytime later, even when offline:

Step 3. Try to use your connections.

Personal referral is an easiest way to get a job on a ship. Polish your address books, check Facebook profiles of your former schoolmates, look at LinkedIn, talk to people around you. Is anyone working on a cruise ship? Did anyone work there before? Do they still have the number of their supervisor, or a person from an agency that helped them to get a job? They may hand you a helping hand, or at least a phone number of someone you should call to….

If you fail to get a job directly with the company, or with an agency, you should definitely explore this option. Personal referrals count for more than 30% of new hires on cruise ships. You should not take this number lightly…


Step 4. Ace your interview.

Once you finally get a chance to talk to the HR manager, or an agency recruiter (cruise ship interviews are often done online, on the phone, or on Skype), you should try to get the most out of this opportunity. Prepare for the common interview questions, speak with enthusiasm, show them the value you can bring to their team. The following article on Interview Penguin will help you with your interview preparation:

  • Phone interview tips – Learn how to make a good impression on the phone, and how to answer their questions. Phone interview has many specifications when compared to a face to face meeting with the employer. Understand the specifications and prepare for one of the most important calls of this year.
  • How to answer interview questions – It is not only about what you say, but also how you say it in an interview…
  • Interview Success Package – Brilliant answers to thirty most common interview questions, and a step-by-step guide on how to ace your interview.
Matthew Chulaw
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