Job Qualifications for Cruise Line Applicants

Some cruise ship jobs require specialized experience or education, especially for positions such as aerobics instructors, disc jockeys, photographers, and youth counselors. Others, including general cruise staff and retail positions, don’t. All, however, demand excellent customer service skills. Your best bet to break into this industry is to use the experience that you already have and market it to your advantage, but you should also be willing to accept any position for which you qualify. Once you’ve got a position working for a cruise line, you can use your contacts to move into the areas you really desire.

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Study your college transcript and resume for ideas on how best to market yourself. Do you have a strong service background? Experience in retail sales? Do you speak a foreign language or have tour guide experience? Many cruise lines don’t necessarily expect young adults to have much work experience, but they do want to be assured they’re hiring people who will be courteous and friendly to the passengers, so emphasize any experience you may have working with the public. Cruise employees vary greatly in their qualifications and previous experience.

For example, in one boutique aboard a ship in the Caribbean, we were introduced to a member of the gift shop staff (they’re called “shoppies” in the business) who had owned her own interior decorating store for eight years. She had twenty employees and did millions of dollars in business every year. Then we spoke to another employee working in the same department. She was 19 and her total retail experience amounted to six weeks of part-time work at a department store over Christmas.

Pay close attention to the type of positions offered by each company. Remember that the large cruise companies with foreign registry usually won’t hire North Americans for many of the low-wage jobs, so concentrate on the jobs that are available by checking all of the information in our cruise listings.

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