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Cruise Ship Jobs: What Happens Behind the Scenes on a Cruise Ship

Here’s what you need to know about cruise ship jobs, and the people who ensure a smooth cruise.

cruise ship jobs

(Photo: Celebrity Cruises)

Have you ever seen the movie “Titanic” and wondered, “Do cruise crews really work like that?” The answer is part yes, part no.

Every cruise ship is different (especially since 1912!), but there’s always a lot of work for the crew to keep things in order behind the scenes. To make your stay comfortable, the staff needs to run efficiently. You never know how many problems arise during a trip, mostly because there so well-managed behind the scenes.

Here’s a look at various cruise ship jobs and the lives of the people who work to make your vacation a memorable one.

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Working cruise ship jobs means lots of hours on the clock

Cruise line employment can be a stable way to make income, but it’s also incredibly exhausting on a body. Some people with cruise ship jobs work up to 300 hours in just a month’s time!

While a lot of trips involve docking in picturesque destinations, sometimes the cruise crew doesn’t get to enjoy it. When the ship is docked, many cruise crews are either looking to catch a meal off the ship or want to relax and get some rest. For most of the crew, there are no days off. They may have a few hours in the day where they can catch up on laundry, get a bite to eat or make a phone call to relatives, but that’s about it.

The food for the cruise crew is not as good as yours

Of course, you want to believe that the cruise crews get some tasty meals just like the rest of the customers on the ship. However, this luxury is solely shown to the high paying customer.

Typically, cruise crews get three free meals a day (with snacks in between). They have a specific card to get the basics like soups, salads, chicken and anything else that’s not entirely expensive.

Drinks are cheap, and it’s nice to have a good bartender to help with social events for the crew. For those looking to get away from typical deck food, they wait for the cruise ship to dock to take advantage of the cheap and local fresh foods in that country (if time permits).

(Photo: Celebrity Cruises)

Cruise line employment wages vary

Depending on the cruise line, wages for cruise ship jobs vary greatly. Think of their wages as similar to that of a server or bartender. They typically don’t get paid a good hourly rate. With that in mind, cruise ship customers have a big say so in how well a staff member gets paid.

If the customer feels that a crew member did a poor job and file a complaint, wages are automatically deducted out of their paycheck. A complaint also affects another important factor for those with cruise ship jobs – their tips. Most of the money a staff member makes goes to a specific bank account. They use ship stipends or a certain per diem for the necessities. Depending on the country, crew members work 12-15 hour days and get paid a much lower rate than the standard minimum wage.

Certain cruise services don’t hire Americans because they get paid more, which can drive costs up substantially. A cruise ship worker’s job position plays a significant role in what they get paid. The more notoriety a member has, the better the payment.

Living quarters can be tight

On the cruise, it seems that rooms are luxurious, but not for the average crew mate. There can be anywhere from two to four people in one room! Cruise crews have to share bathroom and TVs in each room. Some cruise lines have communal TVs shared by staff. This makes it hard to get any privacy away from the job. Cramped quarters can make for some uncomfortable rides, so it takes a lot of willpower to get through it.

Contracts for cruise ship jobs can last six months and up

With cruise ship jobs, you’re at sea for months at a time. Not only does that get a bit mundane but you’ll probably also get homesick. Hearing the voice of a loved one is hard, as getting a calling card can be quite expensive.

While it’s great to be able to look at the ocean and see different countries, working a seven-day schedule is not easy. Not to mention, you’ll miss precious moments with your loved ones during the holiday season.

However, some people choose the shorter contracts so that they can have a bit more rest time in between different cruise schedules. You aren’t locked into something more permanent (which works wonders for both sides).

Hidden fees and costs

Before signing on to work a cruise, there are different things each crew member must get in order. They have to pay for transportation to the ship, medical permits, work permits, visas and more. Sometimes, a country may have a labor law with certain taxes in place. This affects a worker’s wages significantly. For more low budget cruise lines, crew members may have to pay for their flight home. These costs are meant to save the cruise line money and increase the bottom line.

That is just a quick look behind the scenes of those with cruise ship jobs. Is there anything we left out or something you know from personal experience? Leave us a comment.

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