The straight facts about working on a cruise ship
Travel the world, make new friends, get paid to travel, have new experiences… it’s easy to imagine how great it would be to work on a cruise ship. Even so, with such an exciting new career path there are some aspects of working at sea that may be considered as negative. To make a well-informed decision, it’s important know some of the “pros and cons” to cruise ship jobs:
Travel the World on a Cruise Ship!
Pro: The biggest reason why people decide to work on a cruise ship is for the opportunity to see the world. Cruise ships visit the world’s most exotic and beautiful ports. You may have always dreamed of cruising the Caribbean, learning to surf in Maui, riding an elephant in Thailand, eating pizza in Italy or getting close to penguins in South America. It is possible when working on a cruise ship.
Con: Unfortunately, you don’t get to choose which ship you are assigned nor which itinerary to go to. You may also end up spending three summers in a row in place you are tired of seeing (ie. Alaska). Furthermore, when your ship is in port you may not get the time off that you need to experience what you really wanted to see and do.
How Long are Working Days and How Many Months at Sea?
Pro: Although you may work six to ten months, getting two months off between contracts can be great for some people. Typically, you’ll work every day of your contract, though it is possible to be scheduled (or switch shifts) with a long break between shifts. The days that you have an extra long break present opportunities to get ashore and experience what you want.
Con: The hours can be long, averaging about 11 hours per day. This means that you may work 13 hours one day and nine hours another day. You are typically signing a contract where you work seven days a week for the whole contract which may be over six months in length.
Cruise Ship Jobs Salaries
Related Article: Cruise Ship Jobs Salary
Pro: For some nationalities the amount of pay is one of the biggest advantages to working on a cruise ship since what some crew make working onboard is way more than what could be earned in their home country. In addition, there are plenty of cruise jobs that enjoy a high salary once you have more experience and a higher rank. Also, keep in mind that crew don’t have to pay for accommodation or food.
Con: Unfortunately there are many cruise ship jobs that don’t earn a high salary, including most entry level positions. It may be discouraging to divide the amount paid by the number of hours worked.
Expenses While Working on a Cruise Ship
Pro: The lack of onboard expenses that you have when working on a cruise ship make the amount of your actual salary seem higher. You don’t have to pay for food, accommodation, and commuting costs which is huge if you have a land based job. You also have access to free onboard entertainment, free shore excursions and free laundry service. In addition, the crew bar has cheap drinks.
Con: Although the food is free, you may get tired of onboard menus, the officers or crew mess, or even the fact that you can’t make your home cooked meals. Plus, you don’t have the opportunity to see new releases at the movie theater. Add in the fact that it can be a challenge to save money when there’s so much duty free shopping at your disposal.
Code of Conduct on Cruise Ships
Pro: Since most cruise lines are big corporations, this means that they spell out their rules and expect you to follow them. You know what you are expected to do, what not to do, what to wear, etc. There is a hierarchy of who to report to and how to report issues. When crew members aren’t performing or behaving to a top standard they aren’t renewed for another contract. This is good news for those that work hard and behave themselves.
Con: Not everyone can handle living and working under such a strict code of conduct. At times it may feel like a military institution rather than a cruise ship. Even your free time is monitored as even excessive drinking is not tolerated.
Make New Friends From Around the World
Pro: Consider that many of the latest cruise ship have more than 1,000 crew members from different countries working onboard at one time. You will meet people in the department that you work in as well as your roommate and other crew around the ship. Many of these friendships will span years and sometimes crew members fall in love.
Con: You may not like everyone that you come into contact with on the cruise ship. Plus, you are living in an environment where everyone knows everything about everyone else’s business. If you don’t get along with your roommate this could lead to other problems. If you DO make friends or fall in love, getting a second contract together may prove to be difficult.
Sharing Your Cabin While at Sea
Pro: For someone coming from a college or university environment, living with another person may not seem like a big deal. In fact it’s nice to have someone to “come home to” and share your day with. Typically your roommate becomes one of your new best friends as sharing such a limited space can bring people together.
Con: Just as limited space can build a friendship, it can also be one of the biggest challenges of working onboard. You may get put with someone that you don’t like or is culturally (or sexually) different than you. They may not be as clean as you or too OCD about how they like their cabin and work space. Either way this may be one of the biggest challenges of a cruise ship job.
Life Away from Home on a Cruise Ship
Pro: Many people choose to work on a cruise ship because they want to escape from the day to day grind of a land-based job. Others want the excitement of living and working in a completely new environment. Other benefits include no more long commutes to work and no more transportation expenses. You also don’t have to decide what to wear because you have a uniform and only a few “other” clothes to choose from.
Con: This can also be one of the toughest parts of working on a cruise ship considering that contracts can be six to 10 months in length. Leaving friends and family behind can cause homesickness. Homesickness can mean an increase of expenses on internet cards and phone calls to stay in touch.