In few other situations will you encounter the same mix of challenges and rewards. Knowing fore from aft and starboard from port will come quickly, but expect to get lost even weeks into a contract.

In this article Evan Trout shares his honest experience of reality of life onboard a cruise ship.


1. It is a Culturally Enriching Experience

You may never have as enriching and varied a cultural experience; while guests’ nationalities may be quite unique, crew members - all of whom typically speak English, depending on the cruise line - represent 60-70 different nationalities. Still, there are many typical job hassles which you could expect to experience in any other job.


2. Working Long Hours

Most entry level jobs around the world will require long hours, and working on a cruise ship is no different. Whether you work in retail, guest relations, or most other positions, you can expect to work around 12 hours a day when the ship is at sea. 


3. Free Time to Explore New Places

One benefit most other jobs don’t have is that when the ship is at port, many departments are off duty until the “all-aboard.” This means that you get to travel and explore the world while you work, which is one of the biggest reasons people get into this industry. Getting to visit new countries is one of the main reasons why people love working aboard cruise ships.


4. There Aren't Really Any Bad Itineraries

Many crew members covet itineraries in the Mediterranean, the Baltic or Oceana, but there really is no bad itinerary out there - or the ship wouldn’t be making money. 


5. Seeing Places More Than Once

One of the joys of being crew is getting to return to ports multiple times, whereas guests can only go once. It’s typical for a crew member to not really “get” a port until having visited it two or three times.

By then, you will have found the little holes in the wall or hidden parks that make each port unique and exciting. Often it ends up being the case that some of the crew’s favorite ports are ports that most guests find boring. 


6. Ship Life Can Be Nonstop

Cruise liner deck

But at the end of the day, you’ll have to retreat back to your cabins just below where you work, and often a few minutes’ walk from any parties or other activities—ships throw parties or hold basketball or soccer tournaments for crew regularly. 


7. Close-knit Working Environment

It’s important to remember that you live and work in the same place; if you make a fool of yourself, there’s nowhere to hide, and plenty of people ready to take your job.

This rarely happens, but if it does, it happens to someone who has just started and is still adjusting or is just about to finish his or her contract and is getting careless. 


8. It Can Be An Incredible Experience

As long as you stay responsible and don’t mind sleeping in a tiny cabin, working on a cruise ship can be a great way to spend a gap year - or more - seeing the world and making some money at the same time.

If this experience appeals to you view our guide how to work on a cruise ship.

By Evan Trout