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What it's like to Work on a Cruise Ship

Updated on July 20, 2016

Life on a Cruise Ship

Do you have dreams of living on the ocean, and getting paid to travel the world? Life on a Cruise Ship can be a lot of fun, although it is a lot of hard work and extremely stressful. My wonderful fiancé Amanda and I met working on a cruise ship that traveled along the East Coast of the United States. This was our experience, and a few tips for getting hired onto a cruise ship, if it interests you.

The Independence- docked at Martha's Vineyard


The company I worked for hired me after two interviews at a conference center in Houston, Texas. I had posted my resume on a listing they had made on They called me almost immediately, and booked the flight for my training. Amanda flew in from Cincinnati, Ohio. We both attended a very brief orientation in Guilford, Connecticut. Although we were to be working at different stations (she was hired as a steward, and I as a chef) we got the same basic training at their facility.

This training was all expenses paid, in a cheap hotel, and only lasted about three days. We went over basic security procedures, overall life on the boats, and what our duties would be once we arrived at our assigned ship. This was a cake walk, and really had nothing to do with any of my jobs requirements. The orientation is actually where I met my beautiful fiancé- and luckily, we both ended up being assigned to the Independence, a relatively small ship with a capacity of about 400 passengers.

Day One

We were flown into Savannah, Georgia, (a very beautiful city,) where we were rushed into taxis and quickly whisked to the docks where the Independence was awaiting our arrival. Upon arriving at about 4 in the morning, I was quickly given a tour, and crammed my belongings into my new room, which was in the bottom of the ship. The rooms were tiny and dirty, and I would be sharing this space with three other men.

My first day as a chef aboard this ship was, in a word, hell. Exhausted from a five-hour flight, I started my first shift in less than an hour after I was aboard, and proceeded to work for over 14 hours that day. I really thought I had made a huge mistake, but it gets better. So if you get the job, stick with it! You will enjoy it, eventually.

My quarters
My quarters

Sunrise on the way to Charleston, South Carolina

This is what sleep deprivation looks like
This is what sleep deprivation looks like
Just a couple of dorks on a boat
Just a couple of dorks on a boat

Day in, Day out

From your first day to your last day, you will be working. For me, it was at least 13 hours a day, 7 days a week, for 6 months. Cooking breakfast, lunch, and dinner for the crew and passengers. With a team of only 3 chefs, this was an exhausting routine.

I do not regret my time spent working aboard the Independence. It looks fantastic on my resumè, I had many wonderful experiences with the other crew members, we have tons of new stories to tell from this experience, and I met my future wife. But the pay was relatively low for the amount of work involved, and we did not have much free time to explore the cities we came to port in. The entire crew was exhausted every day. There are no days off. Keep this in mind. If you are looking to work on a cruise, remember, it's not your vacation. You are there to work, and you will.

Providence, Rhode Island- From the Second Deck Outlook

How to: Get the Job

Finding a cruise line that is hiring can be difficult, Amanda and I both found ours by going to their websites. If you are really dedicated to finding a job on a cruise ship, you may want to get in contact with a head hunter. We also had related experience in the fields that we applied for (chef and waitress,) so keep that in mind as well. You should also try calling the numbers listed on their websites, even if you call the wrong department, they will be able to redirect you to the right place. Getting these jobs can be very competitive, for obvious reasons, so good luck to you! If you work hard enough to get this job, you will get it eventually!

Rare Free Time

On the shore in New Hampshire
On the shore in New Hampshire

Overall Experience

Our overall experience on the boat was relatively positive, we got to explore some beautiful places, lived for free, saved a lot of money, got paid to travel, and made a lot of new friends. Plus, Amanda and I have a really romantic story on how we met on the ship! I will definitely never forget my time spent on the water.

Thank You!

Thanks for reading my article! If you have any questions about our lives on the ship, or comments for me or my wonderful fiancé, please let us know! We would love to read them! If you decide to apply for the job, good luck! And have fun out there! Sincerely,



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    • grand old lady profile image

      Mona Sabalones Gonzalez 21 months ago from Philippines

      Very informative article about working on a cruise ship. You certainly worked hard, but the good thing is, you see the positive side of the overall experience, and I'm glad you found your life partner there:)

    • StreetSmartIntl profile image

      Ian Marsh 21 months ago from Guanaba, Queensland, Australia

      I always wanted to work on a cruise ship, but I get paranoid after watching the "ghostShip" movie haha. In seriousness, I had a great time reading this.

    • CYong74 profile image

      Kuan Leong Yong 21 months ago from Singapore

      Your hub made me appreciate all the service staff on the recent cruises I took. 13 hours per day for a week. Gosh.

    • profile image

      ShirleyFWilliams 21 months ago

      Working in a cruise ship can be an a new experience. That will be totally different because we spend our time in a ship which is in the middle of the sea. we can see the outside world only after we reach the port.

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