Cruise Ship Worker

Cruise Ship Worker Image

A cruise ship is in many ways like a floating city. Passengers are on board for many days or weeks and need a wide range of services. The ship usually has several different departments, which support a wide range of jobs. Ship’s officers and crew look after the general running of the ship. The captain is in overall command of the ship.

The Work

Ship's Officers and Crew

As a deck officer or engineering officer, you would be responsible for:

As a ship’s rating (deck, engine room or catering), you would:

As a ship’s telephone operator, you would:

Purser's Office (or administration)

As a purser, you would be responsible for:

As a purser’s assistant, you would:

Hotel, Catering and Bar Staff

On a cruise ship, hotel staff takes care of the cleaning and upkeep of the areas used by passengers, such as cabins, dining rooms, recreation areas and bars. Members of the catering department work shifts to provide food and drink for the passengers and some crew.

You could work as a:

Most of these jobs are the same as they are on shore – see the Hospitality, Leisure and Tourism section for more specific details.

Cruise Activities and Entertainment

Many different jobs are available in this department of a cruise ship.

As a cruise director you would:

As a cruise assistant (or assistant cruise director) you would:

A wide range of people provide entertainment and activities. You could find work as a:

Other Facilities

On most cruise ships there are services provided by outside companies (concessionaires). They include facilities such as:

The jobs in these areas are the same as they are on shore.


Most cruise ships employ health professionals to look after passengers and crew. There are opportunities if you are a:

Most of these jobs are the same as they are on shore – see the Health and Medicine section for more specific details.


Pay rates vary depending on:

Some cruise ship jobs are well paid, but others have a low basic salary, which you are expected to top up with tips. Your salary may also be tax free. You will have your accommodation and food provided.

For details of merchant navy salaries, see the job profiles on Merchant Navy Deck Officer, Merchant Navy Engineering Officer and Merchant Navy Rating.

For details of salaries for other jobs, for example Hairdresser, see the relevant job profile.


Depending on the terms of your employment, you may not be allowed to use the facilities provided for passengers and may not be given time off at every port.

Workforce Employment Status

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Useful Subjects

Getting In

Because of the wide variety of jobs that exist on cruise ships, entrants come from many different backgrounds and train in many different ways.

You can find jobs advertised on specialist recruitment websites such as, as well as individual cruise operator and general recruitment websites.

Workforce Education Levels (UK)

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Job Outlook Scotland


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Job Outlook Scotland and UK

2.1 %
  United Kingdom
3.5 %

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What Does it Take?

You need to be:


Getting On



The following organisations may be able to provide further information.

Merchant Navy Training Board (MNTB)
Website (2):
Twitter: @careersatsea

The MNTB can provide information on the shipping companies and training groups which operate training schemes for ratings and officer cadets. The MNTB websites also have useful careers information.

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