A Job On A Cruise Ship: A Dream Come True?

Are you a born adventurer, dreaming of travelling the world and possibly getting paid to do it?

Working on a cruise ship may seem like the perfect option for you. As extrovert as you are, chances are you’d fit in before you know it.

Traveling all around the globe, meeting new people, seizing exciting opportunities, enriching your resume -- all that while getting well paid.

Moreover, according to CruiseLineJobs, there will be an increase in the number of cruise ships operating, which may lead to ongoing recruitment of cruise ship workers in Australia.

Seems like a dream come true, doesn’t it?

Not that we want to shatter your dream, but: beware! A job on a cruiser is not a bed of roses.

While a job on a cruise ship is an excellent opportunity, not knowing what to expect when you apply (and therefore expecting too much) can make your experience significantly worse.

Let us walk you through the cruise ship job recruitment process, wage scale, job assortment, additional documentation, life on board, and everything relevant to forming realistic expectations and being well equipped to apply.

Available Jobs

Besides deck & engine jobs, cruise ships offer a wide range of opportunities providing a job role for almost every profession there is. From catering and personal care jobs, service, accommodation, entertainment, to office jobs -- your choice is huge.

You can work as a bartender, waiter, beautician, photographer, DJ, entertainer, shop assistant, manager, administrator… But you can’t simply choose without any professional background. Jobs on cruise ships are generally given to already experienced professionals, but they often hire less experienced workers if they do well in their interviews.

Ironically, cruise ships also offer land-based jobs: if you’re seasick, or prefer actually going home after your shift is over, you can apply to work in cruise line headquarters or their holiday sales office. Unfortunately, that job description does not include travelling the world!


According to CruiseCareers, the range generally goes between 1,700 AUD - 2,200 AUD per month. However, you can earn as much as 5000 AUD per month working on a cruise ship. Depending on the cruise line, you can be assigned a tipping job or a non-tipping job. Salaries are scaled according to gratuities.

Tipping personnel usually start with a low-base salary, making most of their earnings from the tips. Non-tipping salaries are reserved for those with less experience, or those who are not directly serving passengers, in which case you can count on a slightly higher wage.

While working on a cruise ship, you don’t have to worry about paying your rent and bills -- you’re provided with meals and accommodation. Considering that you’d be working longer shifts, there’s not really much time to spend what you earn, meaning you’ll come back home carrying bags of money.

More good news: according to the Australian Government’s Exempt Foreign Employment Income policy (23AG), you may be income tax-free. However, before you get too excited, read the policy carefully and check if this applies to the precise position you’ll be working in.

Recruitment Process

Learning more about how the recruitment process works before applying for a cruise ship job is a smart move.

In short: you apply by sending your resume and cover letter to a cruise line company or a recruitment agent. They will provide you with an application form, and if they’re happy with your answers, you’ll be invited to a job interview. If you get the job, you will receive a Letter of Employment, which will include cruise ship sailing details, embarkment date, location, and possibly a ticket to the embarkment location.

Once you get a job, you will be required to do a medical review that you’ll submit to your cruise line, and you may also be required to do an English language test.  Speaking other languages will also positively influence your application.

Before applying, think about which job suits you best, and consider your previous experience. Do not just apply for ‘any job available’ -- it will significantly increase your chances of being turned down. Instead, apply for the job you’re good and experienced at, and tailor your resume, cover letter, and application form specifically around that job post.

If you have little or no working experience, obtaining a training certificate will open the door for cruise ship jobs for you. Many registered training organisations offer practical experience during the training, meaning you will also gain experience and recommendations necessary to get the job.

Healthcare and Visas

If you get a job on a cruise ship, you will receive free healthcare if needed while on the ship. Once you sign the contract, the employer will cover your healthcare for the time period you’ll spend working for them.

Don’t forget to inform yourself of the rules and regulations of the countries you’ll be visiting while on this adventure and check if you’ll need any additional documents while there.

If you’re embarking in the US (and most cruise ships are), you will need to obtain a transit visa in order to successfully get from your flight to your new workplace. If you’re applying for the job via a recruitment agent, there is a good chance that they will handle the process of the visa application for you.

Life on Board

We hate to disappoint you before you even get there -- but don’t hope to enjoy the luxury and vacation during your work on the cruise ship.

You will be sharing the cabin with at least one more employee, and it won’t be nearly as fancy as guest cabins are. Usually, employee cabins are found at the bottom part of the ship and they don’t even have windows.

As an employee, you won’t have access to leisure compartments, and you won’t be able to enjoy the pool and other commodities with paying guests.

You will be working longer shifts that take 12-14 hours per day, making it hard to get to leisure activities even if you had full access to everything.

On the bright side, you will be able to disembark at attractive locations and get to see the ports you’re sailing into.

Watch Out -- Scam!!

We’re serious. Cruise ship scams are not rare birds. There have been many cases of cruise ship scams where a group of people assumes a fake company, and manage to take millions of dollars from pre-paid cruise trips and job applications. This comprehensive list of so far identified cruise job scams will help you to always double-check.

So, what to expect?

As you see -- a cruise ship job is not all about having fun and seeing places. But if your dream is to perfect your skills, gain new acquaintances and business connections, save some money, and see beautiful places along the way -- then it is a dream come true.

It’s not easy to get that job either -- but if you know what you want and are ready to demonstrate your passion and skills, fear not!

If you can’t decide what you’d like to do, don’t waste your time applying for ‘any position available’. Get in touch with our team instead -- our career design session is completely free of charge! Our consultants help you define what’s the right career choice for you during one call session -- no strings attached.

Once you’re in, expect to work a lot, learn a lot, earn a lot, and avoid leisure compartments -- a lot! In the end, you’ll see for yourself -- it’s worth it, and it all pays back.

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