Most of us do not have unlimited time to travel -- work always gets in the way. But what if you could combine work with cruising by getting a job onboard a ship or within the cruise industry? Whether you've always wanted a career onboard or have never even considered it as a possibility, you might be surprised at the diversity of cruise ship jobs -- perhaps even one that matches your skills and interests. If you're looking for career inspiration, see our categorical list of cruise ship jobs below.
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Updated January 8, 2020
1. Sailing and Navigation
If you enjoy the ocean, lots of responsibility and navigating large objects by using nothing more than the position of the stars (and thousands of dollars of seriously high-tech equipment), you might be a good candidate to become a cruise ship captain. Although captains get all the glory, they also have teams of officers to help them with operations on the bridge. You start low on the totem pole and rise through the ranks until you eventually call the shots.
This considerably broad category of cruise ship jobs can be divided into two parts: hotel services and food services. The former includes everyone from hotel directors and room stewards to the helpful people who work at the reception and shore excursions desks. Meanwhile, food services encompass waiters, maitre d's and chefs of varying skill levels. Not to be forgotten are the food and beverage director and the folks who make sure everyone onboard has clean sheets and towels.
But what if singing, playing an instrument, dancing, juggling, acrobatics, magic, comedy or dressing as your favorite cartoon character are more in your wheelhouse? Not to worry -- nearly all cruise ships need performers to help passengers fill their post-dinner hours. In addition to these more well-known cruise jobs, you might also consider other entertainment-related positions, which include that of a cruise director (if you have an outgoing personality and like to host events) or a costume, set or lighting designer (if you've got a knack for behind-the-scenes creativity).
There's nothing that says you have to be a teacher or doctor to work with kids. If you thoroughly enjoyed your babysitting days, want to work in some of the most state-of-the-art childcare facilities around and have one or two years of experience working with children in a teaching, childcare or recreation capacity, you might consider employment as a youth counselor on a cruise ship. You'll run activities for the little ones, possibly accompany them to select meals and shows and maybe even be asked to do some late-night babysitting while mom and dad enjoy a bit of alone time.
Most ships have onboard doctors and nurses to deal with cruisers who become ill while sailing. Although you'll only be able to treat routine, non-life-threatening ailments, you'll get to use your medical training to help passengers and crew members while enjoying life at sea.
6. Recreation Management
Sure, there's someone at the water slide, zip line and rock climbing wall to help you take the plunge or get properly suited up, but have you ever thought about joining them? If you enjoy facilitating fun while having a blast yourself, recreation management aboard a cruise ship might be for you.
7. Health and Wellness/Cosmetology
For those who want to ensure people look and feel their best, onboard jobs abound. From personal trainers and yoga instructors to hairstylists and massage therapists, the majority of cruise lines offer many positions in their spa and fitness facilities. They also need trained professionals to perform services such as Botox, acupuncture, teeth whitening and other medispa treatments.
8. Maintenance and Logistics
Whether you're a jack of all trades who's great at fixing things, the guy who drives forklifts full of provisions below deck or a college graduate with an affinity for bow thrusters and Azipods, cruise ships require constant upkeep and planning to make sure things run smoothly. Decks need to be washed and painted, cabin sinks and air-conditioning need fixing, and engines need to continue operating efficiently.
9. Crew Care
Crew members have lives, too. In that vein, there's a special group of cruise ship workers who cater to the crew. They plan social events, prepare meals, tidy up crew areas and make sure everyone has clean linens, towels and uniforms. On many ships, there's even an onboard tailor who's in charge of mending uniforms with tears or missing buttons.
10. Art and Design
Imagine being able to put your name to an interior design concept for a lounge or restaurant that will be seen by thousands. When it comes to ships -- new-builds in particular -- design is an integral part of the cruise experience. From the way the vessels are conceptualized and constructed to the furnishings and works of art with which they're decorated after completion, there's always something that can be done by creative minds with a sharp eye for aesthetics.
Although these types of jobs -- much like those in the aforementioned art and design realm -- might have you behind a desk more often than on the high seas, you'll still deal with all things travel-related. Cruise lines are in need of folks to help with operations at the corporate level, including sales, marketing, public relations, fleet logistics, accounting, human resources, itinerary planning and brand management, just to name a few. And let's not forget about all those hardworking individuals who help you find your cruise line's shuttle at the airport or check you in for you sailing when you reach the terminal.