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Finding a Job in the Cruise Industry

Pros and Cons of Working Onboard

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Many people think that they would like to work in the cruise industry. There are certainly a variety of jobs on a cruise ship. After all, a ship is just like a small floating city, so there is employment to match almost all skills or competencies. Although employment on a cruise ship does allow you to travel to many different countries and to meet people of all nationalities, there are factors that you must consider before sending in your application or accepting that job. This article discusses both the pros and cons of working onboard a ship, and some of the types of jobs available. It also provides some tips on how to prepare a successful resume, application, or curriculum vitae. Please note that I do not work for any of the cruise lines, so don't send me your resume.

"Negative" Factors of Cruise Ship Employment
Do you get sea sick? Are you claustrophobic or feel badly in small, confined spaces? If you answered yes to either of these questions, then a cruise line job is probably not for you. You'll be at sea in all types of weather conditions, and if you are prone to motion sickness, working might end up being the last thing on your mind! As a cruise ship employee, your small cabin will be on one of the lower levels, and you probably won't have a port hole or window. Unless you are an officer, you will be sharing the cabin with one or more roommates. Some might describe the space as "cozy", but others might consider it extremely confining. You will also be sharing a toilet and shower with other workers.

You can forget the 40-hour week at sea. Most cruise ship employees are required to sign a contract for four to six months, and are expected to work seven days a week. You won't find any jobs on a ship that you can do during school or university holidays. All days off come at the end of the contract. You are normally expected to pay your way to meet the ship at the time of employment, but many ships will give you an airline ticket back home at the end of your contract (if you have fulfilled all the requirements of the contract). In addition, if your work has been satisfactory, you will be offered another contract (along with a plane ticket) back to the ship after being at home for six to eight weeks. If you quit your job before the contract is up or if you are fired, you will have to pay your own way back home.

Employees are usually paid in U.S. dollars while working, but do not receive any pay between contracts. The work schedule is flexible, and often demanding. Good health is definitely a requirement, and you will be required to pass a medical physical examination as a condition of employment.

"Positive" Factors of Cruise Line Employment
If you weren't scared off from the discussion above, you must believe that the many positives of working on a cruise ship outweigh the negatives. Working on a cruise ship does give you the opportunity to travel the world and to meet many interesting people. You will usually be working with a team of people who are anxious to help you learn to do your job well. You will have the opportunity to develop collegial friendships with your co-workers that can last a lifetime. Although you are working every day, there are some opportunities to go ashore and see the sites. There is even time to sit on the sand and soak up the sun and the sea breeze if you choose.

The pay varies among different cruise lines, but may not seem like much given the long hours you are expected to work. However, you get free room and food, and don't have to pay any utility bills! In addition, since you are working so much, you don't have much opportunity to spend your salary, so many employees are able to save money while working on a ship. 

Cruise lines try to have a comfortable work environment for their employees. The ship usually provides activities for the crew and a bar or gathering place to meet your crew mates on your free time. After all, if the employees are happy they are more likely to work harder to make the passengers happy!

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