9 Best Jobs on a Cruise Ship – Get Paid to Travel

If you are interested in getting a cruise ship job, there are many options to choose from. Each job has different pros and cons to consider. To help you decide, we have compiled the best jobs on a cruise ship.

To be on the list, we considered three factors: the work involved, salary, and job satisfaction. Of course, some jobs will have an advantage over others in certain aspects, but all are worth considering. Keep reading to learn more about the best jobs on a cruise ship and which job is right for you.

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Cruise Ship Departments

Before we look at specific jobs, let’s first take a look at the different departments of a cruise ship to help narrow down your choice. There are 4 main departments to choose a job on a cruise.

1. Personal Care Staff Department

For those in the personal care staff department, the cruise passengers’ well-being is the main priority. Their job’s nature is the same as those you see in cities except that they work on a ship.

Beauty therapists, fitness instructors, hairstylists, manicurists, massage therapists, physicians, and nurses are under this category. See our article on cruise ship nurse salary if you are interested in becoming a cruise ship nurse.

2. Service and Hospitality Management Department

Also known as “hotel management jobs” in the cruise industry, positions in this department render direct services to passengers. These services include housekeeping, serving food and beverages, laundry, and other related assistance.

Cooks, receptionists, cabin stewards, and bartender staff all belong to this department.

3. Activity and Shipboard Entertainment Department

Jobs in this category are responsible for coordinating the daily shows and activities on board. They make sure that all passengers participate and enjoy the recreational activities provided.

Cruise director, social host/hostess, gentlemen host, and entertainers are in this category.

4. Deck and Engineering Department

People in this department are usually working behind the curtain of the cruise industry. They are in charge of keeping the ship running smoothly. These are the crew members who work side by side with the captain.

Knowledge about safety maritime laws and regulations are their expertise. Included in this department are the captain, engineer, chief officer, and electrician.

Keep in mind that there are lots of other jobs available on a cruise ship. The job that fits best for you depends on your personality, background, and interests.

Next, I’ll list the 9 best jobs on a cruise ship and describe each one so that you can get an idea of which is right for you.

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9 Best Jobs on a Cruise Ship

best cruise ship jobs

1. Cruise Ship Captain

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The cruise ship captain serves as the overall leader of the cruise. Being the captain is not an easy job knowing that the lives of thousands of people are in their hands. However, being a captain offers plenty of benefits. The captain is often recognized during special occasions and is introduced to prominent people aboard. The captain is a vision of respect and authority that everyone holds in high regard.

Since the captain is the chief commander in the ship’s navigation, cruise lines ensure that all of the basic comforts are met from food, drinks, and accommodations.

Their every word can also be instant power on board. If the captain feels the need for a break or wants to attend one of the cruise ship’s major events, they can ask the Chief Officer to take charge of their duties. A captain also earns a lot of money – at least $10,000 per month. 

But as they say, great power comes with great responsibility. Remember that whenever mishaps occur on a cruise, the captain is the first interrogated. If you do your job carefully, there’s nothing to worry about, and you’ll surely enjoy these benefits.

2. Gentleman Host

A gentleman host is one of the best jobs on a cruise ship for guys who love to dance. Gentlemen hosts work directly with passengers. They usually work at night during social events. Since most cruises have more female passengers than male passengers, they introduced the concept of gentlemen hosts.

This job requires you to know all types of dances, primarily the formal ones like the waltz, foxtrot, swing, waltz, and ballroom. All you have to do is dance with single female passengers who have no one to dance with.

Considering that you mostly work at night, you have a lot of time to do your thing during the day. You can also join passengers in the port destination or relax in your cabin before a night of dancing.

3. Entertainer

Entertaining shows are one of the cruise ship’s highlights. Many passengers choose which cruise ship to take based on the shows that are performed on the cruise. These performances can include singing, dancing, acrobats, or all of the above.

If you love entertaining and have strong people skills, this job could be great for you. This job is especially good if you have a background in music or live theatre.

People who work in the entertainment department have to practice a lot before their performances. They also have hundreds or even thousands of eyes watching them. A single mistake can wreak havoc on the whole presentation.

But the experience you can have and the friendships you can gain as a cruise ship entertainer outweigh these drawbacks. The sense of accomplishment and pride is priceless every time the curtains close at the end of the show.

Each show is followed by a celebration of the team for a successful performance. Though exhausting, you’ll probably look back with these memories once the cruise is over.

4. Shore Excursions Manager

A job as a shore excursions manager is the best fit for adventurous people. You get the chance to try the shore excursions packages you are offering. You will experience them first-hand before the customers as a trial service. In return, you have to make sure that these tour packages are conducted in a way that is true to the sales package.

As you are required to present these various packages onboard before reaching port, you need to convince them that you know what you are selling. Imagine, people are paying thousands of dollars for these tour packages, and you get to try them out for free. You are receiving your salary and at the same time experiencing exciting tour activities as one of the job requirements.

Of course, you have to make sure that you offer something that sells. You need to choose shore excursion outings and events that the cruise passengers will enjoy and appreciate when it comes to price and value.

I think this is one of the best jobs on a cruise you can get. You will be able to have fun in the different cities you go to, all while making money.

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5. Youth Counselor

Are you great with kids and able to keep them occupied with various activities? Well, this is the job for you. Synonymous with babysitting and childcare, this job requires you to accompany children aged 3-17. You need to make programs and games to keep them from getting bored while their parents are enjoying more mature activities.

Often similar to being a nanny or babysitter, you might need to clean after the kids or serve them meals. Since kids can only join cruises during their summer or winter vacation, this is ideal for college students who have a childcare background.

If the parents wish to take their child with them during shore excursions, it will surely be your lucky day. No kids mean no one to take care of, so you can take this opportunity to have a rest or walk around the cruise ship.

If the parents give permission to accompany them for onshore excursions, you can explore the tour packages with them for free. You will have to look after the children while onshore, which can be even more work, but it will be an experience to visit the different destinations. 

Not all areas are accessible to crew members. But this rule doesn’t apply to you if you’re with passengers. So, you have the chance to go and try things out because you are with the kids. If they go swimming, eating, dancing or watching the cinema, you might be able to try these activities also!

6. Social Hosts and Hostess

Those who have strong people skills will surely like this job as they are constantly in the public eye. You will regularly socialize with people and will serve as the mouthpiece for the ship. Duties involve greeting the passengers as they board and disembark, acting as masters of ceremonies, assisting shore excursions, and giving port talks.

I’ll tell you right away that this is a demanding job. You need to be available whenever passengers need your service. It means working long hours during the day or even at night. However, you can meet different people, including occasional celebrities. You can even make friends with them.

You’ll enjoy the experience of meeting acquaintances boarding the same cruise line again. Not only that, but you’ll also have the opportunity to attend special events that are only exclusive to a few passengers.

If rest time makes you think twice about having this job, there is good news. You will have your day off while in port as passengers will go onshore. This is your chance to get a good sleep and relax before the passengers board the ship again.

7. Cruise Director

As a cruise director, you are one of the most visible crew members. The job involves mostly doing administrative tasks, including managing and supervising the rest of the cruise staff department.

This job offers extreme pressure, and at the same time, utmost satisfaction if done well. You must have strong organizational skills in coordinating people and events. It means being busy all day before, during, and after events. You have to make sure that deadlines are met, and everything is prepared before events.

Being a cruise director might be a nerve-wracking experience, but I’m certain that you’ll find this fulfilling in the end with the right staff on your team. As a leader, you’ll set the mood of the whole department. You’ll have the opportunity to make friendships as you work with your team every day. 

After each rigorous practice and successful show, people mostly inquire about the name of the crew director. So you’ll be the one who will meet interested well-known people as a representative of the whole department. This will be your chance to build a great portfolio if you want to climb higher in the entertainment industry.

8. Bartender

What makes bartending fun on a cruise ship? Aside from mixing drinks, you get to listen to your customers as well. You need to have social skills to converse with your clients while covering all aspects of the beverage service set by the cruise line.

This cruise ship job will teach you to manage time and multitask. Sometimes, you have to work for long hours continuously to serve your clients. Despite this, you will meet hundreds of people from different countries and cultures. You will have a brief glimpse of the world as you meet guests from all walks of life. So this job can help you make lots of friends as you try to put a smile on their faces.

It also offers you the chance to go ashore and see beautiful places during your day off. Not only that, you can earn tips and save money as your daily expenses for your basic needs are covered by the cruise line.

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9. Fitness Instructor 

Last but not least on our list of best jobs on a cruise is a fitness instructor. If you want to travel to different places but can’t afford to pay for cruises, being a fitness instructor on a cruise ship may be the answer.

While helping, motivating, and guiding others to stay fit, you can see different places at the same time as most cruise lines position gyms on decks with panoramic views.

The process of becoming fit should not be boring. Therefore, it is also your task to make different workout programs. You need to be creative and stay abreast of the latest fitness developments to keep your clients coming back.

More cruise ship passengers want to stay in shape while on the cruise. This is why more cruise lines are recruiting plenty of fitness instructors. Unlike other cruise jobs, this cruise ship job is available for people ages 18 to 40, or even in their golden years, as long as they stay fit and healthy.

Remember that each job offers a different experience for each person. Use this list of best cruise ship jobs to help narrow down which job is right for you.

Related reading:

How Much Does a Cruise Ship Captain Make?

How to Get a Job on a Cruise Ship with No Experience

How Much Do Cruise Ship Workers Make?

How to Become a Cruise Ship Captain