Life Onboard Cruise and River Ships

Everything you need to know before you start your job on board cruise and river ships

Employment Uniqueness on board
Employment Uniqueness

Life onboard is a unique and unforgettable experience. At the beginning you might feel a little lost, but also very excited. Try to keep a positive attitude towards all the new impressions and you will soon enjoy your time onboard. Keep in mind that the entire team welcomes you onboard and is looking forward to meeting you. Working on a ship means you live and work onboard. This also means it is 7-day work week with 10+ combined hours per day.

Job type on board
Job type

Employment on a cruise ship is definitely a full time position. However, due to the intensity of shipboard work & life, it is on an assignment basis.

You will work 7 days a week on the ship, more than 10-hour days. When you are off duty you can go to the crew gym, your cabin, crew area and watch large screen T.V. or if the ship is at port, you can get off and enjoy the sights.

Assignment Duration on board
Assignment Duration

Assignments vary depending on positions and companies. It can be anywhere between 4 months through 8 months. For cruise ships the duration of the contract for a management level staff is between and 3-4 months on rotation (with 1 or 2 months off). For non-management positions there is between 6 and 8 months onboard / 2 or 3 off. The contracts on luxury river passenger ships are season 8-10 moths, during the contract the crewmembers have paid vacation between 4 and 10 weeks.

Travel Documents on board
Travel Documents

Valid passports are needed for all crewmembers. Make sure that your passport is valid for the duration of your contract period. Those that are for a cruise ship need to have STCW certifications plus valid seaman passport. Those that are not US citizens, US Permanent Residents or Canadian will need to obtain a C1/D visa.

STYLE on board

Service Teamwork lead to excellence. STYLE is the customer service concept that all employees take pride in supporting and role modeling. All employees must work together to make our guests feel special. If you have a “can –do” attitude, then you have STYLE.

Each individual has special skills and knowledge. Effective team members need to know two things: "When to ask for help" and "When to offer help".

Ask for help when you don’t have the necessary information, skills or time to serve the guest well yourself. Offer help whenever you can. Look out for co-workers who may need the information, the skills, or the extra person power you can offer. You must always offer high quality and time-efficient service to the guests.

Languages on board

The business language is English, however onboard French, Spanish, German are also used with a whole lot of different languages. If you have a good ear, you might pick up a language or two. In addition, usually onboard there are several language courses. Considering that most of the guests onboard are English speaking, we have to keep this mind when we talk and especially laugh and joke. Guests travel to exotic places with us because they feel safe and secure and know that they are among friends. If we speak a foreign language around them we destroy that feeling.

Living Space on board
Living Space

Living space can vary based on ship and the positions. While the management level position will have a single room, non-management will be sharing with roommates. Although the room is small, you will have a comfy bed, a shared TV, personal closet space and full bathroom. Since your cabin is your new home while onboard, take care of it as if it was your own home. You’ll have clean sheets and fresh towels! You will be responsible for keeping your cabin clean. You will have 2 or 3 roommates. Due to the lack of space, make certain that you and your roommate(s) discuss what is needed and necessary for your mutual existence. Most likely they will be from a different country.

Laundry on board

There is washers and dryers on the ship for you to take care of your clothing, and also ironing area.

Uniforms on board

The company provides the uniforms depending of the department and position. Companies require a conservative, businesslike image. Since you will be representing the company, it is essential that you take pride in your personal appearance at all times. Whenever in uniform you are projecting the company’s image; therefore it is important to always make sure it is proper and complete. Personal hygiene and cleanliness must be practiced by all for the common good.

Food on board

You will receive four delicious meals a day at no cost to you. You will have half an hour for each mealtime. Meals are buffet style in the crew mess. All crew meals are served in the crew, petty officers and officers mess rooms. Please respect the opening hours, smoking and non-smoking areas, dress code and personal hygiene while using these areas.

Relaxation on board

There is a common room where the employees can gather to play games, share experiences and even to watch a movie. In some ships, they even have an Internet Café just for the crew to check in with what’s going on back at home. Part of the benefits of being a crewmember is not only being able to live onboard, but also having the opportunity to travel and visit exciting and exotic ports.

Ship amenities on board
Ship amenities

Ship amenities are for the guests. Some crewmembers will have access to the guest areas while others will not. However, if you want to use any amenity in the guest area, you must ask your manager for permission. Guest suites and corridors are off limits to all employees unless for duty purposes. Only use areas officially assigned to officers, staff and/or crew for sunbathing. The ship personnel are not allowed to use guest elevators. The crew can enjoy their time off in crew bar with colleagues and friends.

Bills Payment on board
Bills Payment

It is recommended that you pay your bills via internet, however, there is also a wire transfer for a fee.

End of assignment on board
End of assignment

Each assignment concludes with a performance review. Based on the evaluation you will be asked to return. In some cases you can be even provided with a return assignment before you even leave the ship. Every cremember receives an evaluation of his performance every three months. One month before the end of contract sea service certifications and final evaluation can be requested.

The best employees can be promoted based on their excellent service evaluations during the period.

I want to be somebody on board
I want to be somebody

There is career growth through internal promotions. You can apply for promotions on the ship as they become available. The work onboard offers enormous opportunities for development. Every three months onboard there are different pre-qualification courses or additional training for people who want to change departments or get a promotion to satisfy their high ambitions. Onboard the maxim is valid "You have to try in order to receive".

Drug policy on board
Drug Policy

On the ship are conducted random drug tests and searches. Drug distribution and use is a cause for immediate termination.

Harassment Policy on board
Harassment Policy

Zero tolerance of any kind of harassment on board. Every crewmember and manager is responsible for creating a positive work environment free of harassment. If you are ever in any situation that violates the harassment policy please, report it to your manager or any authority figure on the ship.