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How to Work on a Cruise Ship, Part One: The Trials

Sunday, January 10, 2016

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  • Pre-interview paparazzi shot

    Pre-interview paparazzi shot

Written by Zoey Ross

So you want to see the world while working on a cruise ship. You dream about adventure, and your Tinder profile says you love to travel. You’ve been to the Caribbean, and maybe Europe once or twice, but you want more.

It’s not an easy job working on a cruise ship, and in many ways the challenges you’ll face will be new and unconventional. Can you go six months without seeing your friends, and family? You’ll have internet access, but it will be expensive, or limited based on where you are and what job you have. Do you get sick easily? Are you a picky eater? Are you prone to claustrophobia or seasonal depression? Off the bat if you said yes, 100 per cent to any of the above questions maybe this isn’t for you. If you weigh your values, desires, and needs honestly, you will thank yourself in the long run.

You’re the judge of the first trial. Are you ready to embrace a new form of blissful chaos on the oceans of the world? Are you ready to sweat, grind, and see sights so majestic that you’ll weep as if you saw the face of a God on earth?

To get any job on a cruise ship you’ll need some type of education or experience. There are a huge range of employment opportunities aboard a cruise ship. It takes 2000 or more people to operate a cruise ship that hosts 3400 – 3900 passengers. Some positions on board are retail associates, dancers, stewards, cooks, cruise recreation staff, security personnel, food servers and much more. It takes a village to run a ship.

The process to get an interview to work on a cruise ship was surprisingly easy. Many, if not all cruise lines have a third party company that helps with the recruitment process. Cruise lines hire people from all over the world. Page Marine Crews is the company that brought me in for an interview.

On March 17, 2013, St. Patrick’s Day, I entered a skyscraper on Adelaide St. in downtown Toronto. This was the second trial, and I knew my capabilities would be judged. We all waited in a group, and filled out paper work at a board table while waiting to be called. I think my blazer, and positive attitude I brought was just as important as my skills that day. You have to be a people pleaser on a cruise ship. If you look frumpy, or unpleasant or, your uniform is not correct you will have an officer tell you immediately to leave the passenger area and arrange yourself properly. The job takes showmanship, and it should start at the interview.

Two quick, generic meetings and I was out of there. It truly was just a relay of skills. I interviewed for Video Producer and Cruise Staff positions. I was lucky enough to score well on both, and opted for the Video Producer position. Both have merit, but being a Video Producer is next level amazing. It only took a week to receive the conformation that I had been selected as a candidate.

Being good at the job you interviewed for, and having a positive attitude isn’t enough. You have to be seaworthy. A regular doctor won’t do. You have to report to a private medical facility selected by the cruise line for a full physical evaluation. This is where heartbreak can happen. You’ve been offered a job on a ship, but fail your medical exam. I have a friend who was actually accepted before me, but for medical reasons he was turned down. Luckily he was able to join a ship a little under a year later. The rational given is that you need be able to work in a cruise ship environment, and be able to perform the necessary safety responsibilities you have as a crew member. I passed the trials, but not everyone is so lucky.

After a month of paperwork, the call came – I was flying to Sydney in two days. I left the girl I loved at Pearson International Airport, and got on a plane for the first time. It was the start of something bigger than I ever imagined.

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