Cruise Ship Departments

The following are brief descriptions of some of the main positions aboard cruise ships that will give you a general idea of the qualifications and duties of each job. Shipboard employees are typically divided into departments relating to service, passenger accommodations (sometimes called “hotel services”), entertainment, and general ship maintenance, engine work, and safety. Different cruise lines use variations on these categories, but for our purposes, we have divided onboard job descriptions into the areas of Activity/Entertainment, Deckhands, Service/Hospitality, and Personal Care.

Cruise ship on tropical beach on perfect day

A fifth category is Office, which includes those jobs commonly available in corporate headquarters. If you want to work in an office environment and avoid a nomadic lifestyle and demanding tourists, this might be the right path for you. Going corporate is a way to get travel benefits and can be your key to a job onboard a vessel at a later time, if you so choose.

The majority of offices are either in Los Angeles or Florida. However, New York, Seattle, and various European cities also have their share. If you live in or near one of these cities, you are in luck. The types of jobs available are wide-ranging and include booking agents, receptionists, sales representatives, human resource representatives, and customer service personnel. Plenty of other jobs exist as well.

Activity and Entertainment Jobs

These positions are often synonymous with “cruise staff” and deal with anything relating to passenger entertainment. This department includes hosts and hostesses, cruise directors and staff, disc jockeys, performers, swimming instructors, and shore excursion staff. These positions are considered the most glamorous on the ship, and are probably the most sought-after jobs in the cruise industry.

Deck Jobs

This department is responsible for maintaining and running the vessel. On large ships, this department usually does not have many entry-level positions open to North Americans. People working in the deck department include deckhands, maintenance workers, engineers, and officers. It is their job to motor or sail the ship, attend to the physical maintenance needs of the ship, and keep it in accordance with fleet regulations and international maritime laws. Officers are in charge of passenger safety as well. The purser (the ship’s treasurer in charge of passenger accounts, tickets, changing currency, etc.) and his or her staff are also included in this department.

Service/Hospitality Jobs

These staff members have the responsibility of managing the restaurants, bars, and passenger cabins, as well as shipboard retail concessions like gift shops.

Spa Jobs

These workers take care of the increasing number of spa and beauty shop facilities found onboard, as well as the medical needs of the crew and passengers. Jobs in this department include salon operators, cosmetologists, beauticians, medical staff, massage therapists, personal trainers, and fitness instructors.

Office Jobs

These are generally onshore positions in which employees work in the main office arranging cruises or performing general office work. These positions include secretaries, booking agents, sales/marketing staff, and clerical workers.

Most Common Jobs Chart

Most Common Cruise Ship Jobs

*Some content here has been provided by the editorial team at CruiseJobFinder. For more detailed cruise ship job information and detailed employer profiles and a list of featured cruise line job listings, visit

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