Working in a cruise is a job that will give you endless opportunities to travel around the world while earning a good salary and saving a lot of money because you won’t have to spend it on accommodation and food.
In this post, Carla Scaltritti from Argentina tells us about her experience earning a job position and working for 2 years at one of the largest 4 cruise companies in the world.
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- Type of program: work abroad on a cruise ship.
- Cruise company: I found a job at one of the largest four cruise companies in the world.
- Location: I went on 3 different routes (Northern Europe, The Mediterranean, and South America).
- Website: I found this job through CAUX hospitality which is a website targeted to Argentineans and people living in Latin America but there are a lot of websites where you can find jobs or you can apply directly in the “Careers” section of cruise companies.
- Duration: I worked for 2 years at the cruise but with different contracts that lasted different periods of time. For example, a contract could last from 4 to 9 months with a 2-month vacation break. Generally, if both parties are happy after your contract finishes, you sign a new one for another period of time.
- Eligibility Requirements:
- Age: you must be at least 18 years old.
- Nationality: nationals from any country can participate.
- English Level: the level of English required will depend to a large extent on the position to which you are applying, however, it should be possible for you to have a simple conversation. Keep in mind that the interviews are in English so if you can not have a conversation there is no point in applying.
- Educational level: generally, you don’t need a degree to apply, but if you are applying for a managerial position you will need it.
- Previous Experience: it is preferable to have previous job experience in cruises or related to the job position for which you are applying but if you don’t have it you can start by applying for a position which requires less experience and after your contract ends apply for a better position.
- STCW certificate: after you get the job contract you are required to get the STCW certificate which is needed to work on any commercial vessel at sea (superyachts, cruise ships, and offshore vessels). It is the minimum legal requirement for all crew and is essential knowledge used to protect the lives of the crew and guests onboard. Read here my experience obtaining the STCW certificate.
- Finance: you will generally earn in dollars and salaries will vary depending on the position you take but are usually between 1000 USD per month for a bartender to 2000 USD per month on the reception. Fortunately, you will also have to consider that you will not spend money on accommodation and food (you will only have to buy water in the cruise and buy an internet package if you want to) so you will be able to save money and travel around the world.
*Traveling for a short time
- Can you sign just 1 contract? Yes, but the idea is that after you finish your contract and enjoy your vacations you sign another one. You are not obliged to sign but the ideal is to hire committed candidates with the intention to do more than 1 contract.
- Can you travel in just one direction? generally no, the cruise will depart and return to the same port (you cannot leave the cruise at the middle of the route because then the company would have to hire somebody else to cover your position). Only when “crossing” is done at the end of the season the cruise moves one way.
2. Application Process
Enter CAUX hospitality website
On cauxig.com have a look at all the available positions; you will be able to see the position name, company, salary, contract length, and experience requirements. Regarding contract length, if you see for example “6 x 2” that will mean that you will work for 6 months on board and take 2 months off.
*You can also apply directly on the cruises’ website careers section.
Look for a job that matches your skills
I looked for a job in which I was qualified to apply and that satisfied my interests. In my case, I had the advantage of knowing many languages so I applied for a job at the reception.
Have an Interview with CAUX and then the cruise company
You will then have a Skype interview in English with a recruiter from CAUX and another interview with the cruise company in which you are going to be asked some questions about your previous job experience, education, etc. The interview with the cruise company can also be made on a special website in which you need to answer different questions recording yourself in a video.
*Process your visa(s)
If a visa is needed in some ports and you want to get off the cruise, you will need to process your own visa. However, if you are going to the USA, the company will process the visa for you.
Get you STCW Certificate
As mentioned in section 1, the STCW certificate is the minimum legal requirement for all crew to work on a cruise. Your company may pay for the course for you or you will have to pay for it. I took a 10-day STCW course in Buenos Aires, Argentina at Scholorum Nautas school. But most probably if you search on internet, you can find a school in your country . If you want to know more about my experience obtaining the STCW certificate, read this post.
Sign the contract and send the required documents
Scan and send your contract and passport. You will sign the original contract onboard upon arrival to the ship.
The whole application process lasts around 2 to 6 months depending on the cruise company and almost every time you will be able to do it all online (the interview can be done via Skype).
It is difficult to get a job because a cruise ship is a 5-star hotel so you need to be very professional and give your best during the application process but do not forget that you will earn a great salary and you will be able to travel the world without spending money.
3. My Experience
a. My Story
I have always liked to travel and live abroad! I was studying English Translation in Argentina but I got tired of it because it was getting very difficult; so I decided to quit and embark on an exciting new adventure working at a cruise ship for two years.
b. Working at one of the top 4 cruise companies
Top 4 largest cruise companies
- Carnival Corporation: is a British-American, USA-based cruise company.
- Royal Caribbean: is a cruise line brand founded in Norway and based in the USA.
- Norwegian Cruise Line: is an American-Bermudian company headquartered in the USA.
- Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC): is a global cruise line that was founded in Italy and has its headquarters in Geneva.
I worked a total of 2 years in this company with different contracts. Depending on your nationality is the duration of your contract. A contract generally lasts from 5 to 7 months; however, it can be reduced or extended.
I traveled on 3 different routes: Northern Europe, Mediterranean, and South America.
- Northern Europe: Germany, Denmark, Russia, Finland, Norway, and Estonia.
- Mediterranean: Italy, France, Greece, Portugal, and Morocco.
- South America: Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay.
My favorite route was Northern Europe because I was able to improve my German skills and German guests are polite and they cruise a lot so they understand more the general standards of the cruises.
I liked the Mediterranean route too and I will never forget the time when we were in Ibiza and I went with a friend to a Hi Ibiza club to see Lost Frequencies and Martin Garrix, who are very famous DJs. That was one of the most amazing nights I have ever had.
I also never thought I could visit places such as Montecarlo, Santorini, Athens, Constanta and so many other cities that I was able to visit with the cruise.
e. My position and activities
I had to work every single day 8 hours per day. I worked at the reception and my tasks were all guest service related.
I consider it was a difficult job because we had to work many hours and it was very demanding; however, remember that you will be there only to do your job, and you won’t have to worry about other activities like cooking and paying for bills. So basically you have a great environment to have a great performance.
f. Free Time
I had some free time during the evening/morning (depending on the shift) and I used it to go to the gym, watch movies, take a nap, or go outside to do some sightseeing.
g. My coworkers
My coworkers were all friendly and we worked in teams very well. The fact that we were from different nationalities made it more interesting. I am so happy to say that I made so many incredible and loyal friends.
We also had crew parties once per week where we were able to dance, drink and make new friends.
h. My room
I had a cabin that I shared with one girl and I decorated it with postcards from all around the world that I was collecting. For me it was not difficult to sleep when the sea was rough; the movement was in fact good because it made me feel sleepy.
i. The food
I was able to eat a broad variety of food from awesome chefs in a buffet style. Usually, we ate at the staff table, but there are three tables: crew, staff and officers table.
I only had to pay for water to be able to take it to my cabin or to the back office but the water in the table was for free. But I didn’t have to pay a lot; it was only around 0.60 USD per 1.5 lt. bottle.
4. General Opinion
- Great salary: over $2000 USD and you can save around 95%.
- Languages practice and development: I was able to practice my German, Italian, French and Portuguese.
- Exploring the world: I was able to visit 20 countries and cities I never thought I could visit!
- Meeting people from all over the world: from all continents and so many different cultures.
- Intensive work: over 8 hours per day but some other departments work 11 hours every day.
- Sensitive tasks: some tasks were really sensitive such as medical related issues, lost luggage, and guests conflicts.
- Stressful but rewarding: a lot of work but a lot of money.
To get a job
- Have a good English level: before you start looking for a job make sure your level of English is good because then you will have to prove it in your job interview.
- If possible, learn another language: Consider learning another language because this will open you the doors for many more opportunities if you want to travel on different routes.
- Prepare yourself before start working: ask or find information about life onboard since it could be quite different.
During the job
- Have a healthy diet: you are going to have a lot of delicious food available so try to keep a healthy diet.
- Enjoy the job: try to do a good performance and also try to have a good relationship with colleagues since you are going to share a lot of time with them.
- Visit several places: try to go out as much as you can so you visit different places and get to appreciate this advantage of the job.
Afterwards I decided that I wanted to become an English teacher abroad, so I decided to get the CELTA certificate in South Africa and work in Vietnam (you can also read all about my experience studying the CELTA course here).
In the Work Abroad section, you can find more experiences earning internships and full-time job positions abroad! If you had a similar experience and want to inspire others to apply please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
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