Working on a cruise ship is a unique opportunity because it allows you to both travel and earn money. There are a wide variety of positions on cruise ships, from people who pilot and maintain ships to people who entertain and provide services for guests. Learning about possible careers on cruise ships may help you find a role that suits your abilities.
In this article, we review 53 jobs on a cruise ship and explore their primary job responsibilities and average salaries.
17 hospitality jobs on a cruise ship
Here are 17 types of hospitality jobs that are often available on cruise ships.
National average salary: $41,012 per year
Primary duties: A steward on a cruise ship keeps the guests’ rooms clean. They’re an essential part of the housekeeping staff and maintain the standards of cleanliness aboard the ship. Depending on the job description, the role of a steward may also include serving food and drinks to passengers and helping maintain the inventory of serving stations.
National average salary: $44,566 per year
Primary duties: Servers serve food to guests. They may work in one of the cruise ship’s restaurants or deliver room service. They take orders, ensure guests have everything they need for their meals and provide customer service.
3. Store associate
National average salary: $44,869 per year
Primary duties: Store associates help customers in the gift shops, dive shops, clothing stores and other retail shops on board. They help cruise ship guests find the items they need and facilitate their purchases.
4. Casino dealer
National average salary: $45,389 per year
Primary duties: A casino dealer oversees games in a cruise ship’s casino. They may facilitate poker, blackjack, roulette and other types of games. Casino dealers set up playing equipment, deal cards, collect bets and pay winners. They also notify the pit boss of any disputes.
National average salary: $47,122 per year
Primary duties: Bartenders create alcoholic and nonalcoholic drinks to order for cruise ship guests. They aim to provide excellent customer service and meet sales goals. Bartenders may also converse with customers, restock items and handle payments.
6. Activities coordinator
National average salary: $48,961 per year
Primary duties: An activities coordinator plans and oversees recreational and other activities aboard a cruise ship. They may specialize in a certain type of activity, such as performances, and help guests arrange their shore excursion itineraries. They may also provide the cruise director participation and customer satisfaction surveys for future planning purposes.
National average salary: $51,987 per year
Primary duties: Stylists provide hair and makeup services to cruise ship guests. Their services include cutting, dying, shampooing and styling people’s hair as well as applying makeup. They may also provide these services to the ship’s performers.
National average salary: $52,055 per year
Primary duties: Chefs prepare food for everyone on the ship, both guests and crew members. They create menus, cook meals and oversee other kitchen staff. Chefs also ensure that the kitchen follows proper food handling and sanitation practices.
9. Nail technician
National average salary: $53,726 per year
Primary duties: Nail technicians, or manicurists, provide manicures and pedicures to guests aboard a cruise ship. Their tasks include doing nail art, applying acrylic or gel nails and providing massages to the hands and feet.
10. Massage therapist
National average salary: $54,192 per year
Primary duties: Massage therapists use several techniques to provide people aboard the ship with therapeutic massages. They can work in a spa or travel to guests’ rooms to offer their services. They also store and maintain equipment, such as massage tables.
National average salary: $54,531 per year
Primary duties: Lecturers are speakers who provide entertainment and information to cruise passengers. They may offer instruction on ship procedures, inform guests about their destinations or speak about special interest topics.
12. Fitness instructor
National average salary: $57,173 per year
Primary duties: Fitness instructors help guests and crew members by leading them in physical activities aboard a cruise ship. They may teach exercise classes such as yoga, aerobics and weight lifting or offer individual exercise instruction. The exercises may be offered to different age groups.
National average salary: $57,912 per year
Primary duties: Tailors aboard a cruise ship are in charge of creating, altering and maintaining the costumes of the ship’s performers and other employees. A tailor can also help guests with any necessary clothing alterations and repairs.
14. Security officer
National average salary: $58,152 per year
Primary duties: Security officers on a cruise ship keep all the guests and crew members safe. They also help protect the property of the passengers and ship from theft. Security officers patrol the ship regularly and address any problems that may arise on board. They also review passenger luggage to ensure all items are permitted on board.
15. Hotel manager
National average salary: $59,963 per year
Primary duties: The hotel manager on a cruise ship provides customer service and ensures the ship’s interior is neat and orderly. They oversee all the hotel departments, such as guest rooms, restaurants, bars, lounges, kitchens, waitstaff and housecleaning.
National average salary: $66,235 per year
Primary duties: A bellperson carries luggage for guests and takes them to their assigned cabins. They may provide services such as giving directions and information, cleaning rooms, delivering room service and running errands for guests.
17. Entertainment manager
National average salary: $60,706 per year
Primary duties: An entertainment manager, also called a cruise director, supervises all the entertainment staff and activities on board the cruise ship. They manage staff scheduling, create entertainment programs and complete administrative duties.
9 technical and crew jobs on a cruise ship
Here are nine more technical and crew positions on a cruise ship:
National average salary: $34,915 per year
Primary duties: Deckhands are general laborers who help maintain the cruise ship. Their duties may include cleaning, maintaining equipment, helping with navigation and docking and inspecting mechanical operations. A deckhand also helps load cargo onto the ship and ensures the safety of those on board.
2. Boatswain’s mate
National average salary: $41,925 per year
Primary duties: A boatswain’s mate oversees the personnel in a ship’s deck department. They maintain the boat’s structure, decks, lifeboats, anchors, rigging and other important seafaring equipment.
3. Maintenance technician
National average salary: $51,090 per year
Primary duties: Maintenance technicians upkeep the machinery on cruise ships. They keep every machine and part working, from the heating and air conditioning to kitchen and guest room appliances to the ship itself.
4. Audiovisual technician
National average salary: $51,385 per year
Primary duties: Audiovisual technicians ensure that all the lights and sounds needed for cruise ship productions, such as live shows, are working properly. They may inspect, maintain and repair the audiovisual equipment.
National average salary: $54,195 per year
Primary duties: A purser, also called a bursar, manages the money on a cruise ship. They’re in charge of all financial matters and oversee other financial personnel. Pursers may handle money transactions from guests and crew members.
6. Crew trainer
National average salary: $65,887 per year
Primary duties: A crew trainer provides up-to-date instruction to all the crew members on the ship. They teach other employees about working on the ship, including guest policies, safety information, customer service practices and other important aspects of the cruise ship.
National average salary: $67,622 per year
Primary duties: The captain is responsible for everything aboard a cruise ship. They manage the ship’s personnel, ensure the safety of everyone on board and run all aspects of the cruise. Their tasks can also include overseeing navigation processes, monitoring weather patterns and managing delegation of duties to crew members.
8. First officer
National average salary: $68,179 per year
Primary duties: A first officer, also called a chief officer, navigation officer, chief mate or first mate, is in charge of a cruise ship’s deck crew. They receive a license to work as a mariner and gain experience in all aspects of navigation. The first officer maintains navigation and other deck equipment and reports to the ship’s captain.
National average salary: $100,034 per year
Primary duties: A nurse aboard a cruise ship provides health care to both passengers and employees. They may respond in an emergency, administer medication, provide first aid care and help passengers with medical concerns or issues.
27 more jobs on a cruise ship
Here are 27 additional possibilities for employment on a cruise ship in all categories:
Human resources manager
Youth activities manager
Cruise activity staffer
Shore excursions manager
Chief cabin steward
Information technology manager
Frequently asked questions
What is it like to work on a cruise ship?
The work environment on a cruise ship is fast-paced, with long hours and a high-pressure atmosphere. Depending on the job, crew members may work 10 to 12 hours a day, seven days a week, with limited time off. They provide effective customer service while handling a variety of challenges, such as language barriers and difficult passengers.
What are the challenges of working on a cruise ship?
A primary challenge of working on a cruise ship is being away from family and friends for extended periods. Crew members typically work contracts that last six to nine months, with few opportunities to return home. The living quarters on a cruise ship can also be small, with shared cabins, limited personal space and minimal privacy.
What are the benefits of working on a cruise ship?
Despite the challenges, working on a cruise ship can offer many benefits. Crew members have the opportunity to travel the world, experience different cultures and make new friends. Many cruise lines provide their staff with room and board, so crew members can save money while working. Some jobs also offer tips and bonuses, providing additional financial incentives.
8 Unique Cruise Ship Careers To Consider
Working on a cruise ship can be a unique and exciting professional path to follow, especially if you enjoy being on the water and interacting with lots of people. Depending on your specific interests, abilities and education, you may be able to pursue a number of different roles on a cruise ship. In this article, we explore eight unique cruise ship jobs and their salaries.
8 unique cruise ship careers
Below you can find overviews of different positions that you may consider pursuing on a cruise ship. It’s important to note that these salaries and daily duties may vary based on your specific role, the cruise line and the number of people who serve in a similar role.
Here are eight unique cruise ship careers you may pursue. For the most up-to-date salary information from Indeed, click on the salary link.
1. Bridge instructor
National average salary: $33,466 per year
Primary duties: A bridge instructor is responsible for hosting games of bridge for participants. They set up cards, set up tables on which the participants play and assign teams to play against each other. Bridge instructors host bridge games and ensure all participants play fairly and according to the rules and then deem winners and may reward them with some type of prize. They follow up by taking down their bridge setup and cleaning up the area.
On a cruise ship, a bridge instructor may also host other games, such as bingo and card games, in addition to board games and other fun game-based activities.
2. Grounds maintenance worker
National average salary: $40,322 per year
Primary duties: A ground maintenance worker, commonly referred to as a groundskeeper, is a landscaping professional who tends to the cruise ship’s landscape. Some ships have areas, such as recreation areas, that include real grass and real plants and it’s the grounds maintenance worker’s duty to trim, mow and maintain these areas so they’re healthy and aesthetically appealing. In this role, they also keep an inventory of all their landscaping equipment, water plants and grasses, control any weeds or pests that may be in these areas, lay grass and plant flowers and other plants.
A grounds maintenance worker also perform common janitorial duties both as they pertain to their work and some tasks that don’t. They may pick up litter, sweep the grounds and clean any roofs or gutters the cruise ship may have.
3. Golf coach
National average salary: $42,736 per year
Primary duties: Golf coaches are responsible for teaching cruise ship passages how to play golf. They may give private or group lessons to interested passengers on how to play golf, teach them skills for the game and help them refine and perfect their moves. Golf coaches may host golf games in friendly competitions for passengers to participate in, score these games and give passengers prizes if they win. They may also participate in games themselves to engage with passengers.
4. Hospitality provider
National average salary: $43,827 per year
Primary duties: A hospitality and dining professional specializes in creating a positive customer experience at a place of business such as a restaurant, bar or cafe. On a cruise ship, a hospitality provider works at an eating or drinking establishment and greets patrons and seats them. They typically answer phone calls, schedule reservations and address patron concerns and answer questions. In this role, the hospitality provider may clean and organize their area of the establishment, observe open and closed table statuses and assist with opening and closing activities.
National average salary: $49,600 per year
Primary duties: A photographer uses expertise to capture high-quality, professional-grade photos of people, places and objects. On a cruise ship, a photographer works to capture photos of moments that cruise ship passengers experience while sailing. In this role, a cruise ship photographer takes photos of passengers while at dinner, parties or other events or when they’re participating in recreational activities. Photographers take portraits of passengers, group photos and family photos. They also upload these photos to their computers or mobile devices to view them, edit them and add visual effects, such as filters or graphics.
It’s common for the cruise ship to deliver photos of passengers to the correct parties. They may charge passengers for the photos.
National average salary: $55,057 per year
Primary duties: A cruise ship diver is a professional commercial driver in the recreation and entertainment industry. They lead or teach cruise ship passengers by diving from different heights into pools or even the ocean. Depending on their qualifications, cruise ship divers may also take passengers who’ve undergone some training on special driving trips once they reach their destination.
These highly trained professionals specialize in diving while on a moving boat and they may also perform swimming shows where they perform tricks to impress passengers.
7. Recreation program director
National average salary: $72,293 per year
Primary duties: A recreation program director is a professional cruise ship member who works to create and implement a variety of different recreation programs for cruise ship passengers to enjoy while sailing. They research recreation programs that passengers may enjoy, obtain the materials and people needed to execute these programs and implement them. They also monitor all programs on the cruise ship to ensure they operate smoothly and receive reports on each program. A recreation program director also creates budgets for each program and ensures that they adhere to them.
Directors may also write up comprehensive reports on their programs to deliver them to their superiors to inform them of how they’re performing.
8. Caricature artist
National average salary: $78,640 per year
Primary duties: A caricature artist is a professional cartoon artist who specializes in drawing caricatures, which are portraits that involve exaggerated aspects of a person’s face or body. The artist paints caricatures of cruise ship passengers to take home as a memento. They typically charge the passenger for their service and may paint group caricatures.