Want a job on a cruise ship? It’s not as impossible to attain as you may think. The cruise industry, now and forever, will need workers for two reasons. 1.) The turnover is justifiably high: for most people, working seven days a week for months on end, contract after contract, is just not sustainable. 2.) Considering how many cruise lines are out there, there are literally hundreds of thousands of jobs that need to be filled. Skills and qualifications play their part, but so does perseverance.
Here’s a few things to make the process easier as a whole:
Third party recruitment specifically for cruise ships
Those hundreds of thousands of employees I mentioned? Do you think the cruise line’s H.R. has the time to constantly fill all those jobs? Not at all. Most of them outsource to recruiting agencies. If you apply on a cruise line’s website through an automated system, the chances that a real human reading it are slim. Instead, do a little research to find out who the hiring partners are for the line you’re interested in. Again, they need the workers and want the applications, so the contact information for the recruiters are often easily available—some even have social media presences on Facebook and Twitter. If not, it’s nothing that a little Linkedin stalking couldn’t dig up: search for words like ‘recruiter’ and ‘hiring specialist’. Anything that puts your name in front of a real person will help.
Look for cruise industry career fairs
A lot of the crew on my ships had come by way of career fair, especially the Europeans. It makes sense, as it’s another way for the cruise lines to amass a large database of potential workers in a relatively short amount of time. Check to see if there’s going to be a fair or open auditions in a major city near you—I was invited to audition for a certain line, and the nearest city to me was Chicago, but they were also in San Francisco and Miami. Florida, especially, is a good place to narrow down your job search. After all, it’s one of the major hubs of the cruise industry.
Have relevant experience
This is just a blanket piece of job-searching advice so condescending that I can just feel you rolling your eyes from here, but bear with me a moment. For me, the position I was applying for was in entertainment. In my heart of hearts, I knew I’d be good at it because I had the experience to prove it.
For three years, while I worked a day job, I moonlighted as a trivia hostess in local pubs and bars. Incidentally, when one of the first interview questions for the job was, “Do you have two or more years of microphone experience in an entertainment industry?” I could say yes and not need to bullshit my way through it. Ask yourself if there are any side hustles or volunteer opportunities you can pursue to strengthen yourself as a candidate. A job on a cruise ship, after all, is still a job – qualifications and experience count for something.
Know another language
It may depend on the cruise line and where in the world they are headquartered, but there’s still a solid chance that you’ll need to be provably proficient in English—and that’s just baseline. The thing about cruises? You don’t travel exclusively to English-speaking countries. If you already know another language, you’re ahead of the curve. I would argue that it doesn’t matter which language you have as a second language, as long as there’s a need for it (and there’s always a need for something). Spanish, Portuguese, or an Asian language would be solid choices.
I know I’m coming across as incredibly blasé regarding learning an entirely new language, but it doesn’t have to be so daunting. You don’t need to be fluent; you just need prove that you would be useful when it comes to directing lost guests to the buffet line or selling them Bingo (always Bingo. Never forget that Bingo is a religion aboard a cruise ship, kids). Of course, the more proficient you are, the better. There’s a number of free courses and apps to help you build or polish your language skills. Personally, this Spanish Dictionary app was my god-send. You may even consider switching your Facebook to a different language—you’d be surprised at how much that helps.
Keep in mind, this is not a fool-proof way to land a job on a cruise ship, just a few guidelines. In the end, I applied for jobs for fun in my spare time for a year—I never expected anything to come from it. I treated it more as a, ‘Wouldn’t it be neat if…’ sort of daydream. I got a lot of rejections before the stars aligned. So, I guess that’s the unofficial fifth bit of advice: be patient and don’t lose hope.
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