As far as life on a cruise ship… I tell everyone almost the same thing. There honestly is NOTHING like it on land. You work and live with the same people for 5-9 months at a time, you party with them, you go to port with them, and you make amazing relationships with them. But then you leave them. The crew has their own bar “back deck” where the fun people show up to everynight. Drinks are super cheap, there’s always music, it might be caribbean or latin 5 nights a week, but there’s music. You get to meet other people from outside your department and your division and that is the best part about the job in my opinion. After 5 years I can basically go to 60% of the world and have a free place to stay before I know someone from a ship. Each ship is different as far as actual parties, but they do theme parties at least once a month… most ships about once a week. A lot of people dress up and many a time there is free booze… can’t complain about that one.
The job itself depends completely what you are applying for. No matter, get ready to work 7 days a week for 5-9 months (once again depending on what position). We claim “days off” as the days we aren’t working in port so we can go to the beach or just sleep in and not have a worry about what time to show up, because we don’t start until about 5pm. No matter the position, it is a lot of work, but it pays off. The hours are definitely not like land hours. We do not work 8-5. My usually sea day (not in port) may consist of: 9-1pm 2-4pm 5-8pm and 10-midnight. They are varied hours throughout the day, but you usually don’t worry too much about it because… well you can’t go anywhere.
The countries completely depend on the ship you get. I have been lucky enough to travel around the world…literally, but some people are not. Many ships are obviously in the caribbean because it’s the cruise destination with year long great weather. However, many ships go to Europe. There are more and more going to Australia, New Zealand and Asia and during (american) summer there are more and more ships going to Alaska and Canada. I wish I could tell you where to go… but that’s basically up to the cruise line you get hired to.
All in all I have been there almost 5 years and I love every minute of it. Yes I don’t get to get off in every port because of work, yes I work 220 hours a month (minimum), yes the guests can be super annoying; but.. as I stated I have been to 40 countries and over 125 different ports around the world thanks to this job. I have met people from ALL around the world who I honestly can consider my friends and they consider me theirs. Worst case scenario, you have some terrible guests, they are gone in a week (or 2 depending on the itinerary). This life is not for everyone, but at the same time, if you are unsure if it’s for you… then you should try it. If you absolutely hate it, you can always resign and leave early, or just wait out your contract, enjoy the ports and the beach and then not go back. If you love it… well you can be like me and do for 5 years or more!
How to go about it
Alright here’s my advice for you. I work for Royal Caribbean. And to be honest, the way I got hired is not exotic or even exciting. I honestly went to www.royalcaribbean.com and found the “careers” link at the bottom of the page. I know every cruise website has a careers place to send off your resume too, but there are other options. From talking to other people on ships, many people use hiring partners, namely those from countries other than US, Canada, or England. Many of us from those 3 went straight to the website. If you happen to be from somewhere else, I highly recommend finding a hiring partner. They might charge you a bit of money; but depending on where you are from and what position you are looking to apply; there are people honestly lining up for those positions. These are the back of house (cooks, cleaners, housekeeping, etc) places where you basically HAVE to have a hiring partner to get to the front. If you are interested in front of house (youth staff, cruise staff, sports) then apply directly through the website; they are always looking for people. If you happen to be a dancer, each company hires through an outsourced company. I don’t know the names of them, but you can find them online anywhere and you would actually apply to them and have an interview with that company before you had auditions with the cruiseline. As far as Shoppies or working in the Spa, they also are brought in by other companies and not directly the cruiseships. I don’t know the shops company, but once again, you can find this or a hiring partner will get you to the front. But the spa is a company called Steiner where you would apply to.
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V Hospitality is the recruitment group for V.Ships , a great staffing agency in the cruise industry. They are constantly hiring for many positions