Cruise Concessionaires and Placement Companies
Don't limit your job hunting to just applying with the cruise lines. Concessionaire and placement companies are responsible for hiring a large percentage of cruise ship employees.
The main difference between the two services is who you work for. If you go through a concessionaire, understand that they are your employer, not the cruise line. Concessionaire companies rent out space on the cruise ships. This relationship is similar to the way large shopping malls have a variety of retail stores inside, each governed by its own contract with the mall owner. Think of the last concert or sporting event you attended. The hall or stadium is not providing the food and beverages or the employees who serve them. Instead, they hire a concessionaire to handle all these details. Similarly, on a ship, beauty salons and gift shops are typically run by concessionaire companies. They pay the cruise line rent and in return the concessionaire is responsible for running the entire operation, including hiring personnel, stocking supplies, managing the staff, and of course making a profit!
When you work for a placement company they are doing exactly that, placing you. They are the intermediaries and who they place you with will become your employer, not the placement company. Once you are placed by an agency, they are out of the picture and all negotiations, contracts, rules, regulations, and other details are handled directly between the cruise line and the employee.
Placement companies also differ from concessionaires in that they hire for all types of cruise staff positions, especially the non-skilled ones. Concessionaires typically hire only specialized staff such as food and beverage workers, hair stylists, masseuses, casino workers, and retail clerks. Placement services keep names and resumes on file so that they can provide employees for cruise lines on short notice.
The amount of people these companies hire or place can vary greatly from month to month and year to year. Smaller concessionaire companies may hire as few as 10 employees a year, with the larger companies hiring up to 1,000. As with any other business, employment depends on openings. If a cruise line expands, adding more ships to its fleet, or increases the scope or duration of its itineraries, it creates a need for more staff. Concessionaires work hard to get new contracts, while placement companies face the challenge of finding suitable applicants who will satisfy and keep their clients (i.e., the cruise lines) coming back.
Contract lengths also vary, but this has more to do with the cruise line you work for than anything else. As one employee who found her job through a placement company notes: