Types of Cruises

To most people, a “cruise ship” implies a big white ocean liner loaded with all the pleasures of paradise. For the most part, they’re right, and it is this image that most public relations firms and advertising agencies promote, mainly, because it sells. It turns out however, that for many job hunters in the cruise ship industry, large cruise liners are the only ships applicants know about. What these applicants don’t know is that “Love Boat” style cruise vessels (150 or more crew; 500 or more passengers) are only a part of the cruise ship industry.

Those interested in working onboard a cruise ship should consider all of the available options in the cruise industry, from the ocean liners and luxury riverboats, to specialty sailboats and yachts. Simply put, there are a number of different types of cruise ships with which to find employment.

On the following pages we have outlined the different types of cruise ships in the industry. We will cover jobs and information for applicants interested in the big ocean liners as well as the smaller boats. Discover the main differences between large and small cruise ships and learn about the different types of cruises that exist by region.

Expand your cruise ship industry job search as you learn about:

  • Large ocean liners
  • Small cruise ships
  • Alaska cruises
  • Caribbean cruise ships
  • European cruises
  • Specialty cruises like eco-cruising

Large Cruise Ships

Large cruise ships are the big ocean liners you see in posters and are some of the most popular ships in the industry. When you talk about cruise ships with the general public, they will probably think of an ocean liner. These large passenger vessels can hold thousands of passengers at a time, in addition to hundreds of crewmembers. While large cruise ships vary in the exact number of passengers and crew, you can always expect to find: modern facilities, incredible amenities and hundreds of people enjoying the height of luxury.

Entry-level employees who work on large cruise ships will normally have only a few responsibilities. Although responsibilities will change from time to time, the jobs on a large ship tend to be more specialized than on smaller vessels.

Small Cruise Ships

Small cruise ships can vary extensively when it comes to size. They can range from ships carrying less than 500 passengers to yachts that hold a maximum of 10 people.

Small cruise ships, in addition to carrying fewer passengers, also carry fewer staff members. As a result, the responsibilities of the staff on a small ship will vary more than on larger ships. For example, the deckhand on a small cruise ship will certainly be responsible for cleaning the deck, but he might also be responsible for a portion of the cooking, other cleaning duties, helping with minor repairs, acting as a captain’s aid or leading excursions with the guests.

Small cruise ships are becoming increasingly popular because small ships can access some of the more remote locations that ocean cruise liners are too big to reach. Additionally, passengers on small cruise ships tend to enjoy a more intimate relationship with the crew and the ships activities.

Job hunters should keep in mind that finding work on a smaller ship can be difficult. Because there are fewer positions available on a small ship, and jobs tend to go to applicants with boating experience, finding an entry-level position can be difficult. That isn’t to say it’s impossible. However, because small ship crewmembers have more responsibilities, they tend to be hired based on a number of different skills. For instance, a worker on a small ship can hold a naturalist job while serving as the captain too. Others will be deckhands, who also help sail the ship, in addition to performing ship maintenance.

Here is a list of some popular, small cruise ship lines:

  • Un-Cruise Adventures
  • Lindblad Expeditions
  • Hurtigruten
  • Quark Expeditions
  • Maple Leaf Adventures
  • BC Ferries
  • Captain Cook Ferries
  • Discovery World Cruises
  • International Expeditions

Keep in mind there are many others in the industry. If you’re interested in gaining work experience on a boat and care less about cruising and more about the open seas, consider working on an Alaskan fishing boat. These boats set sail with new hires each year. Take some time and explore jobs in the Alaska fishing industry for more information.

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