Expedition Leaders & Tour Guides
Tour guides and excursion leaders are an integral part of the cruise ship staff. These guides tend to specialize in the culture, history, geography and events near cruise ship ports of call.
Additionally cruise ship excursion guides are also charged with the responsibility of leading groups safely to shore when the cruise ship docks. Tour guides and expedition leaders also lead any specialized outings related to the area. Therefore, depending on the type of cruise, tours will likely vary. This means a land excursion guide or tour operator might be leading boating and fishing tours, hikes, afternoon adventure tours, shopping excursions, wine tastings, wildlife viewings, kayaking trips, surfing lessons, diving adventures or mountain climbing.
Nearly any activity you can think of that takes place at a cruise ship port of call can be the responsibility of an excursion or tour guide operator. In addition to actually running the tour, travel guides on cruise ships will often plan excursions, organize details, manage staff and demonstrate safety instructions. Although much of the work takes place at ports-of-call, expedition leaders and tour guides almost always travel with the ship, providing lectures and special information on upcoming places or events.
Cruise companies that specialize in nature tours fill tour guide jobs with people who are knowledgeable in natural and cultural history. Naturalist cruises have an intensive lecture program onboard, and the expedition leader coordinates lectures, plans and executes excursions from the ship, and also gives lectures. Experience in travel and tourism and a formal education are required. Many offshore cruise guides and adventure tour guides started as assistants or naturalists to acquaint themselves with the details of this career position. There are even some training facilities to educate tour guides and expedition leaders.
Certification or formal training will increase your chances but will not guarantee you a position onboard a cruise ship. The website, CruiseJobFinder, has good information on this topic: http://www.cruisejobfinder.com/fm/tourguides/
Contracts and pay are sometimes negotiable for adventure tour guides and tour leaders. Some might be onboard a ship until they are done traveling a specific region while others will stay onboard for many months or even years at a time. Because more training and specialization is involved to be a tour guide for a cruise ship, contracts tend to be longer. Some tour guides and expedition leaders can earn as much as $2,300 – $3,000 a month while on contract with a cruise ship.