For many, the idea of working on a cruise ship is very appealing. You have the opportunity to see the world, work with an international team, live rent and bill free and get paid to do it all. Summer is the height of cruise season for travelers and workers alike, especially college students, teachers and others that have time away from their normal jobs and lives during those months. Dozens of cruise ship companies exist and each job and cruise line will be different.
Applying Directly With a Cruise Line
Go to the website of your desired cruise line. Major cruise lines include Royal Caribbean, Carnival and Princess (see Resources).
Find a link, typically towards the bottom of the page, directing you to employment opportunities labeled "Careers" or "Fun Jobs". Each site will then have a different process, but all will navigate you through the information, including contact emails and phone numbers, that you will need to start the application process.
Specify your area -- such as food and beverage, entertainment or house keeping -- of interest. Contact the appropriate hiring partner and have a resume or CV prepared.
Using an Online Recruiting Website or Recruiter
Navigate to a cruise job recruitment website such as Cruise Job Finder, Cruise Ship Job or Cruise Lines Job (see Resources).
Browse the links to current job openings on a variety of cruise liners. Select a job opening after reading all of the job descriptions that interests you.
Complete the online application process.
To obtain a job during the summer season -- May through August -- you should begin applying for positions as early as January. Positions on cruise ships open and close just like any other profession, so you may receive a job offer immediately or not for several weeks. While it is true that cruise lines typically employ onboard personnel for four to seven months, it is possible to get "short-term", or two- to three-month contracts.
The cruise industry is enormous and employees come from almost every country on earth. Recruiters for different types of cruise ship department live all over the world and can greatly improve your chances of finding a position on a ship. For example, if you are in the entertainment division, you can audition for Proship Entertainment and they will find the work for you for a percentage of your salary.