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Cruise Ship Jobs Preview

A rare glimpse onto the employee-only deck as workers enjoy some time off.

Casino Staff

One of the best jobs on board, casino staff positions are some of the most sought after by cruise insiders. Since gambling is illegal in many ports, staff members get a great deal of shore leave. Most companies require at least one year of casino experience in at least two games to be considered. If you have the experience, go for the gold! Pay is typically salary-based.

Cruise Director and Cruise Staff

The cruise director is in charge of the cruise staff and all passenger entertainment. He or she plans and implements all social and recreational activities on board. This position is usually filled from within the company's cruise staff members. Pay is typically salary-based.

The responsibilities of the cruise staff include passenger recreation, entertainment, and general passenger orientation. People who work on the cruise staff are typically described as "people persons," since 95% of their duties involve satisfying the recreation needs of the passengers.

Applicants for cruise staff positions should be outgoing and confident, with some experience dealing directly with the public. This experience could come from traditional jobs in the private sector, or it could come from campus activities. Pay is salary-based.


A great job for those who love working outside and don't mind physically demanding labor, deckhands do most ship maintenance. This could involve anything from painting to tying the boat to a dock. The best opportunities for Americans are on smaller vessels since most large lines hire deckhands from developing countries. These are good entry-level jobs if you are up to the hard work. Pay is salary-based.

Disk Jockey

Disk jockeys are responsible for providing musical entertainment for the passengers. A wide knowledge of various musical styles is required, since passengers can have extremely different tastes. DJ's are typically considered cruise staff members, though many lines hire these workers through a concessionaire. Pay is salary-based.


Entertainers participate in a variety of passenger activities such as bingo, water sports, and other games, in addition to giving daily performances. Most entertainers have experience in one or more of the following areas: disk jockey, sound technician, musician, member of a band, juggler, magician, comedian, or dancer. Entertainers are especially in demand during the peak cruise seasons in the spring and summer. Entertainers are also needed over the Christmas holidays. Many entertainers also double as cruise staff members.

While entertainers may be hired directly through the cruise line, many are also hired through entertainment concessionaires. A VHS tape of your act is required to apply (unless you audition in person). Pay is based on both salary and tips.

Fitness Staff

These crewmembers are responsible for leading exercise programs and for acting as personal trainers for the ship's passengers. These crewmembers tend to have extensive fitness experience, as well as a background in nutrition, leisure studies, or physical education. One recent trend has been the inclusion of nontraditional health activities including yoga, dance, and water-aerobics. Some cruise lines even feature special cruises for those passengers interested in sports and fitness. Depending on the cruise line you would like to work for, you may be hired directly by the cruise line or you may be hired through a concessionaire. Pay is salary-based.

Flight Coordinator

This on-board position involves organizing the logistics of passenger travel to and from the ship. Flight coordinators spend most of their time making airline reservations, so some experience in that arm of the travel industry is helpful when applying. Flight coordinators usually work in close association with the purser's office and must be highly organized. Benefits include the ability to set your own hours and lots of shore leave. Pay is salary-based.

Gift Shop Staff

If you've ever had a job at a local retail store, you should be qualified to work in a ship's gift shop. Duties include the typical retail routine of maintaining inventory, unpacking merchandise, coding and pricing, displays, and sales. Most cruise lines look for gift shop staff members who have at least some experience in retail, especially in high-end specialty shops. Pay is based on salary and commissions.

Hospitality Manager

Hospitality managers are responsible for making sure passengers feel comfortable and have a good time while on board. Responsibilities include everything from making sure passenger cabins are cleaned properly to adjusting the volume of dinner music. In short, hospitality managers answer passenger complaints and, most importantly, try to make sure there aren't any in the first place. Applicants for this position should have extensive hotel experience and/or a degree in hotel and restaurant management. Pay is based on salary.

Hosts and Hostesses

While hosts and hostesses are technically members of the cruise staff, their responsibilities also include arranging parties and dinners, leading shore excursions, and giving port talks. Applicants should be outgoing and enjoy dealing with the public. Pay is salary-based.

Massage Therapist These employees are responsible for both giving massages and operating the ship's spa, which is usually separate from the salon. Thus, knowledge of cosmetology is often necessary. Responsibilities include giving massages, manicures, pedicures, and selling beauty products. Pay is based primarily on tips and commission.

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