I been working at sea for over 19 years and worked on many cruise liners Royal Caribbean cruises, Regent seven seas cruises, Princess cruises Disney cruise line and Silversea cruise line. I had a crazy life and have so many wild stories but I will get into that later on during my life and tell you the most outrages things I saw and did but first I want to try give you as much knowledge to how to work on a cruise ship and what the life onboard is like. I have done this so called blog and I’m not good at this so it might not be in the best order but I tried so enjoy and more to come …

Let me tell you about working on a cruise ship.

The best way to start it is by applying for the cruise liner itself. They are safe and will always have your details stored on the system for a rainy day or an emergency if needed.  It can be very time-consuming to search and find all the online applications, so I have done this for you and added most of the cruise liners under one page. 

Working on a cruise and living on a cruise ship is great for some but not for others so. Going to the actual Cruise ships website is the best place to start and search. Once you there search for the career tab. Most of the time it is located at the very bottom of the page. Be patient as you will have to spend a good 20 – 25 minutes in filling out all the required information they need.

You will be given or sent application forms if the recruitment agent of the cruise line company like your resume. Read the forms carefully and fill them in but express yourself concisely and clearly. Attach the resume and send it all. If the cruise lines are looking for a person with your qualities, education and experience, you will be invited for interview.

You have so many cruise liners to choice from like Disney Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean Cruises, Princess Cruises , Carnival Cruises, Celebrity Cruises and so many more. In trying to get a job on a cruise ship you are going to be up against a lot of stiff competition. Any official qualifications or good experience in your chosen field will help your application forms stand out above others.

If you have graduated from college or university with relevant, professional qualifications – for example, as a pastry chef or beautician – then these are the types of things recruitment companies will be looking for so make these qualifications obvious. Cruise ships also like to take on returnees because they already know that person and are happy with their work. These people are your competition but even these staff were first time applicants at some time.

General Positions

  • Food & beverage workers (e.g. bartender, waiter, chef, etc.)
  • Housekeeping
  • Human resources/staff training
  • Gift shop (usually contract work that is arranged externally)
  • Guest Relations
  • Medical (usually contract work that is arranged externally)
  • Spa (usually contract work that is arranged externally)
  • Technicians


  • Casino
  • Cast members (e.g. singer, dancer, performer)
  • Cruise staff (in charge of entertainment for adults)
  • Youth staff (working with teens and pre-teens if a youth program is in place)

Deck/Engine Positions

Deck and engine work is more technical, usually requiring specialty education and training. Such jobs include:

  • Security
  • Deck hands
  • Engineer
  • Captain

Same as a cruise liner application, we have approved agents worldwide who assist the cruise liner in finding the appropriate staff they need. Finding an agent in your country will help a lot as they have been in the business a long time and can really assist you in preparing yourself for interviews and helping you with your paperwork and many others things that need attention.

Depending on the agent, some of them are very good, and I’m afraid some aren’t. If you have an agent, they will require many documents from you to process and store your data on their system for review.

It is a long process with agents as they will have to interview you, they will call you for an interview so they can know you better as a person and your qualifications. They will also assist you with your CV and required documents, photos, medicals, training courses needed etc.… Agents normally do full checks on your CV and background checks as they will be held responsible if you are hired and have for example a criminal record. Some agents will ask for a once off fee, but it depends on the type of agent. Crew life at sea recommend you check your documents and think about if this is still something you want to do , Do you want to work on a cruise ship?

Mostly, cruise line recruiters will come to your country to do recruiting, and they will contact their approved agency and let them know the dates and locations. This is the time when the agent will contact everyone on their system on their shortlist and inform all to be ready for this day at this location for a face to face interview. Once this day is over, you will be contacted by your agent within a couple of weeks or so with your result and what’s next if you were successful.

Working with third party agents can be very dangerous as most of them are not approved agents but recruiters trying to start or become part of the recruitment business. Applying online through Gumtree, ads, certain apps and search engines are very skeptical and not guaranteed.

From my experience and others, I have noticed most of them are scams and just bad people trying to lure you into their evil way to try and take your money and offer you back nothing in return. 

Another positive way to get an opportunity is to join as many cruise liners and get notifications of when they will be in your country doing recruitment events and recruiting for all types of job descriptions. Here, they will travel around the globe going from one country to another getting hold of all their approved agents telling them when and where they will be in order to start their interviewing process.  

Most of the time if you are with an agency from your country, they will be in contact with you and call to inform you of a face to face interview with the cruise line recruiters.

Normally, the agency will then assist you in everything you need and let you know about how you should be dressed and how you should present yourself as they will try to give you much help and tips, of course, because they already made a profit from you being hired.  This is a great way to get a job as you are being hired by the direct recruiter for that cruise line.

If you notice they have an event like this outside your area or maybe in a country nearby and you’re desperately dying to work on a cruise line, and it’s also your dream, I suggest you do whatever it takes and travel to that event and introduce yourself accordingly…

I can’t stress this enough always, and I mean always follow up if you can or whenever you can. You have to remember that these guys are so busy, be it an agent or a cruise liner or even a good lead from a friend, follow up.

They have so many CVs to look through, so many people they have interviewed, so many job description to look at, it’s just a lot of information and most of the time, it sometimes slips their mind, and they forget about you. Once you send that short reminder email, it activates in their brain again about what had been discussed or agreed or whatever it may be, following up is a huge key. Most of the time a follow up email sent to someone actually puts them in a position to have to reply whether it is good or bad.

The fact that if you apply and just forget about it and wait for it is to be afraid of a loose situation in most cases, you have to push and push to get answers and especially in the cruise industry as it is growing rapidly. Try to have a little notebook or something and write every email you send to or agent plus a date and after a couple of days or a week whatever you decide, follow up and mark it on your notebook and continue until you get answers.

Remember one thing, for example if you trying to sell cookies, say door to door and you’re always getting people saying no, no, no, you will want to give up but that’s when you say no and continue, knock on 100 doors if you have to and I promise you, you’ll sell your cookies.

So this is one of the most important things I find too. If your CV is not up to standards, they will look at it and in 6 seconds put you in the no list; they won’t even have to continue to read further as they have thousands of Cv’s to go through. They know what they are looking for and if you don’t get professional help to fix your CV and make you stand out, you will lose that opportunity nowadays.

It’s a tough world out there, and you have to be better than the rest to get that shot….

I would recommend spending some time and effort to get your CV professionally done. We have a service that provides free reviews on your CV, and then we have a small, easy fee to rewrite and redesign your CV to make it look more appealing to the cruise industry. If you would like to read more about this, go to www.crewlifeatsea/cvservice

You will have to do a STCW 95 training course before you can actually join. What is the STCW course all about?

The STCW 95/2010 course is a legal requirement for all crew working commercially at sea. It provides hands-on training, enabling crew to safely assess and perform safety related tasks in the event of an onboard emergency.

The Basic STCW Courses consist of the following:

Competence in Security Awareness, Elementary or Medical First Aid, Personal Safety and Social Responsibility, Personal Survival Techniques and Marine Fire Fighting and Fire Prevention.

This training is given in accordance with STCW 95, Tables A-VI/1-3, A-VI/1 and 4 of the STCW code. (Five separate STCW certificates) This course is compulsory and you have to do this in order to work at sea. Always Be advised this is not a cheap course and the cruise companies do not reimburse you this money back at all in any way possible.

The certificates only expire after 5 years and then when you renew it after 5 years you only have to do the refresher course but be advised this may differ in other countries and its not easy but the renewal one is easier. .

After a successful interview and your training certificates emailed back to your agent your cruise recruiter will inform you that you need to get a medical exam done before you are officially hired to work on a cruise ship and the medical is a big part in the recruitment area.

Crew Life at sea know that all cruise ship crew must be medically, physically and mentally be fit for the job that they are employed to do. This includes being fit to perform emergency duties if required and able to deal effectively with isolation from friends and family.

The doctor must attest to the overall fitness of the potential employee and sign a certificate saying so. These medical exams are conducted to identify medical conditions, examine previous medical history, detail any injuries, identify substance abuse and overall make an assessment that the crew member is fit to work on a cruise ship. Doctors will also assess a crew member’s mobility, balance, strength, and endurance. There must not be any physical disability issues.

Some Cruise ships vary when it comes to medical exams, they have different procedures throughout. Most companies want you to do your medical exam at their approved clinic or doctor.

Some good advice is to bring your most common medication you take at home for basic illness and any that you specifically need for yourself but always be ready for anything.

Once you have completed all the requirements and sure to continue further, your agent needs from you they will send you your sign on documents, Letter of Employment, Flight details, Hotel info and Contract. You will have to review your contract and read it over a couple times and if satisfied sign it and send it back.

A lot of information will rush through your emails. Firstly, to be able to travel abroad, you will need a valid passport with at least 6 months expire date. Apart from the passport, it is recommended to have other ID documents with you all the time. Do you still want to work on a cruise ship?

Most staff on cruise ships do not come from the same country from where the ship is registered. Therefore many crew that  have to or need a valid visa to work on a cruise ship. If your ship embarks from a port in the USA or you have a stopover in one of the US ports, you will need the appropriate visa.

Every port has All you need is your letter of employment and apply for C1/D visa at the US embassy in your country. These visas allow you to enter the USA for a limited time (usually 30 days) only when your ship calls to a US port. This will depend on your ship as it could be anywhere at the time and dependent on its location.

Please keep in mind U.S visa can take some time so book appointment online asap.Very important to apply when you receive your documents.

Once you have completed all the required requirements that your approved agent needs from you they will send you your sign on documents, Letter of Employment, Flight details, Hotel info and Contract. You will have to review your contract and if satisfied sign it and send it back.

Firstly, to be able to travel abroad, you will need a valid passport. Apart from the passport, it is recommended to have other ID documents with you all the time.

So read your ticket  carefully and understand it and check the DATE and the TIME, you don’t want to get to the airport on the wrong day because you read your air ticket incorrect. Make sure to be there 3 hours before in case.

Once you ready check in your luggage and then say your good byes and you off through customs. When you have gone through customs and passport control you can go to your assigned gate and then relax till you board or shop, now it’s real …You going to some country you might have never been before too to work and travel the world so embrace it cause it is truly an experience never to be forgotten.

Flying has its up’s and down’s so be ready. Its a very long journey with loads hours and very tiring so have some snacks with you at all times during your journey.

Take along some exciting and fresh reading material, sleeping tablet whatever will help you get through the long flights. Crew life at Sea has seen some unfortunate things so stay safe. Working on a cruise ship  and the traveling can be hard sometimes too, it’s a lot of energy drained out in short time.

During connection flights always make sure you know what gate to go to and what time flight leaves and don’t take your time, always know exactly whats going on.

If you miss a connecting flight you can surely turn your adventure into a nightmare. If so they should book you in to a hotel and re-book your flight for the next one but this just makes a ripple of problems for you the cruise liner and everyone connected to your hire process.

Don’t give-up , never give up

You may have come a long way in your quest to secure a cruise job and i’m sure it was not easy but the tides of bad luck swept you away from your port of success. No agency has scheduled you for an interview yet or you weren’t able to pass the screening process which could be the case on most times. For these reasons, you feel hopeless and about to quit but don’t.

Okay, take a break but keep your head above the water and always stay on top. As a line in one favorite poem of ours says, “Rest if you must, but don’t you quit!” So member this quote.

We knew a lot of people who failed at their first , second and even third attempts but they never gave-up. One of our friends told us that it took him ten years before he was finally accepted as a photographer. In ten years’ time, he annually submits his resume on the same agency which hired him. He did it while gaining work experience here and abroad.

If any storm delays your trip, patiently wait until it’s over. You can always sail again to reach your ultimate destination in life and continue your goal. Renew your hope, and learn how to bounce back every time you fall and never give up.




 International Labour Organisation (ILO) decided that uniform regulations concerning the medical examination of seafarers were needed at all costs due to issues occuring out at sea. Convention No. 73 declares that a person employed on a ship must have, i repeat must have“…a certificate attesting to his fitness for the work for which he is to be employed at sea signed by a medical practitioner.” 

The ILO also states that all crew member  whether be in Asia, Uk , Anywhere be “…in good health and not likely to endanger the health of other persons on board.” Consider that crew members live close to each other on board and may have contact with passengers. Therefore if a crew member had to acquire a real strong contagious disease it would endanger the health of their fellow crew members along with passengers and this would cause huge outbreak if not seen too.

All cruise ship crew must be medically, physically and mentally fit for the job or else they will not be able to work out at sea and  that they are employed to do what ever they are instructed when it comes to medical as it is a huge part for seafarers. This includes being completely fit to perform  any or all emergency duties if required and able to deal effectively with isolation from friends and family and be able to work according to the regulations. The doctor must attest to the overall fitness of the potential employee and sign a certificate saying so or else he or she will not be able to work out at sea at all.


STCW stands for ‘Standards of Training, Certification and Watch-keeping’. STCW came into force in 1978 as Governments agreed to standardize all the training around the world to help each other be safe. STCW Basic Safety Training, as it is known today is required by all seafarers  with no exceptions when it comes to sea and who are working onboard commercial ships or Super yachts. Basic principals of the STCW convention were that all crew must receive basic training to cope with emergencies on-board and help create confidence they need. This basic training would last around a week and would include the following:

  1. Fire Fighting and Fire Prevention – practical course that teaches you how to use the fire fighting equipment on-board your ship in the event of a fire.
  2. Personal and Social Responsibilities – course that introduces the safety procedures on-board, your responsibilities, living and working on-board a ship.
  3. Personal Survival Techniques – course of survival techniques, abandoning ship, equipment found on-board. This course includes a practical session in a swimming pool.
  4. Elementary First Aid – course of practical training on basic first aid, resuscitation techniques and practical first aid techniques.
Fire Fighting


To work on board a major cruise ship, all crew members must have a valid passport and applicable visas to work onboard. Find out who requires what documents, such as the C1/D visa, and  you must apply for them.

On average 80% of cruise lines indicate that on their website’s employment pages that all crew members from all diversity must have a passport that is valid for at least one year from the date they join the ship or else will not be accepted. If you are just starting the cruise job search and think this is what you looking for in life make sure that you are in the process of getting your passport if you haven’t done so already or else you will decrease your opportunity. Renew your passport if it is within six months of its expiry date.

Most cruise lines try to make it a requirement that crew members will be able to successfully obtain a US C1/D visa once they receive all the documents from agent. The reason for a crew member to have this US visa is so that they will be able to join a ship in the United States as no one can enter with out a valid visa or be able to transit through a US port.

After the successful interview and following your assignment  you will receive many emails and paperwork that will need to be filled in and sent back , plus need to a given to the vessel, you are given an Letter of Employment (a letter confirming that you’ve been hired) by your manning agent or cruise line. You will need this letter in order to apply for your C1/D visa at a US Embassy/Consulate in your home country and don’t forget it at home.

Visas will always be at your own expense and can cost around $100 or more depending on country, some company’s may reimburse you so keep receipts in case. Before joining a ship on future contracts always be ready, remember to make sure the visa is still valid for the whole contract.

The visas are renewable for as long as you are employed but always check it and make 100% sure it’s valid. A Seaman’s Book is required nowadays for most Cruise Liners and normally its a Bahamian one but now they are many types. Although it is not certified or sometimes compulsory a travel document, it is record of career certification and experience  and shows your loyalty at sea which proves useful during future visa applications.