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Step by Step On How To Get The Job

Types of Shipboard Positions

Resume & Interview Tips

Ship Life


The Captain

Deck and Engine

Hotel Department

Cruise Staff

Steward Department

Food and Beverage

Galley Jobs

Bar Department


Types of Shipboard Positions

Shipboard personnel are ranked into three groups: Officers, Staff and Crew. The ship's Master is the Captain. The Captain is the highest-ranking officer and has absolute command and control of the ship, its passengers, staff and crew. Here is a brief description of the three shipboard personnel groups: 

Officers are licensed professionals hired to navigate, operate and administrate the ship. They are considered senior personnel and generally will have their own cabins. 

Cruise Staff are directed by the Cruise Director and work with passengers in the following areas: cruise programs, children's activities, entertainment, casino, gift shops, fitness facilities and spas. Cruise staff have the privilege of being allowed in certain public areas when off duty, but they must adhere to the shipboard rules and regulations that apply while in public areas. 

Crew Members are the many people that maintain the workings and operations of and within the ship from the Food/Beverage and Steward Department to the Deck & Engine Department. Crew members are not allowed into public areas while off duty. They are free to spend time in crew designated areas and in the ports of call. Crew positions are usually filled by citizens of the flag country where the ship is registered or by those hired through agencies in non-industrialized countries where low wages prevail. 

Each cruise line has specific application procedures. If these procedures are not exactly followed, you will just be wasting your time (and money if you are mailing your application).  As the crewing supervisor is going through the resumes, he or she will weed out any applications that did not meet the specific requirements. Among the first resumes to be thrown out are those that are incorrect, incomplete or sent to the wrong person. Not only is it important to send your resume to the appropriate person, but also to know which positions are available for you. 


Crew positions are usually filled by those hired through agencies in Latin America, the Caribbean, the Philippines, Indonesia and Eastern Europe.  Canadians, Americans and British may be hired for crew positions, but long hours and low wages make it undesirable to even consider such positions.

Most Canadians, Americans and British on ships hold positions in either the purser's office or in the cruise staff department.  When you have found a position of interest, confirm the title given by the cruise line for that position. Some cruise lines will refer to an Assistant Purser as a Receptionist. Be sure to use the proper position title to avoid confusion. An easy and quick way to find out the position title is either by calling the cruise line's employment line or by checking their website. 

To help you decide which position is right for you, think about your skills and relate them to a position. It is important to have some experience in the position that you wish to obtain for the cruise line to consider your application. Think about it from their side, the less training that they have to invest in you the better for them. It's all about their advantages for hiring you. Also realize that if you haven't worked on a ship before, it's unlikely that you will be hired for a high-ranking position such as Cruise Director or Hotel Manager. The officers and staff that hold these positions have worked hard to climb their way up the ladder of stripes. Their pay is better, but the work hours can be much longer and the responsibilities also much greater. These people are often no longer interested by the excitement of traveling. They enjoy their job but it is often the only life they know after so many years at sea.



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The Captain

The Captain is the ship's Master. All departments must answer to the Captain. Every crew member strives to please the Captain and carry out his orders. When you join the ship for the first time, introduce yourself to the Captain. Let him know what position you have onboard and that you are going to be the best crew member onboard his ship. 

The Captain's right hand man is the Staff Captain. He is the one who would take over the ship if the Captain became incapacitated while at sea. The Staff Captain is also the "sheriff" onboard the ship. If you fail to comply with ship rules and regulations, he will be the one you will report to at Captain's court.   Back to Menu

Deck and Engine Department

The Deck and Engine departments are responsible for the maintenance, navigation and engineering of the ship. Individuals interested in working in the Deck or Engine department should look into attending a marine training school that will teaches the elements of seafaring. 

Deck Department
The job positions within the Deck department require knowledge of ship radios, Morse code and general ship maintenance. The starting positions within the Deck department are known as Ordinary Seaman or Able-Bodied Seaman. Once the required job skills have been mastered, promotion within the Deck department is possible. Deck department positions are as follows: 

The First Officer is in charge of the navigational watch and keeps maintenance records for all navigational equipment. When necessary, the First Officer can make corrections to charts and pilot books. He or she is also responsible for the supervision of the maintenance of the ship's lifeboats, rescue boats and tenders. Inspections and maintenance of the ship's portable fire fighting equipment and proper operation of watertight and fire screen doors are also the First Officer's responsibilities.   The Second Officer is a watch-keeping officer in charge of a navigational watch or in assisting a First Officer during such a watch. The Second Officer is also assigned some of the First Officer's tasks.  The Environmental Officer serves as an environmental specialist with the responsibility for overseeing the company's environmental policies, procedures, and systems onboard each ship.  The Ordinary Seaman is responsible for cleaning, painting and general maintenance of the ship. Able Bodied Seaman: The Able Bodied Seaman is responsible for deck and lifeboat maintenance.  The Safety Officer is responsible for crew safety training, passenger and crew safety drills, abandon-ship procedures and supervising the maintenance of all lifeboats and tender boats. Security Officers are responsible for enforcing security procedures onboard the ship. Duties include checking identification of all passengers and crew boarding the ship, inspecting luggage and carry-on articles. This is often an entry-level position and if you apply be sure to emphasize any security training and experience that you may have. The Radio Officer is licensed and certified to operate all navigational electronic and computerized equipment.  The Carpenter is responsible for the general interior shipboard maintenance and repairs and for all carpentry woodwork on board. The Upholsterer is responsible for re-upholstering of all the ship's furniture.     Back to Menu

Engine Department
The Engine department employs highly trained crew that must be able to handle working in extreme heat and noise. Engine room workers help the ship's engineers maintain the vessel's engine, machinery and auxiliary equipment. The positions within the Engine department are as follows: 

The Chief Engineer is responsible for the entire technical operations of the ship including the engineering, electrical and mechanical division. The First Engineer is responsible for all work that has to be carried out in the engine room and for training of new engine crew members. The Second Engineer is a watch-keeping engineer. In addition to watch duties this position is assigned various maintenance and repair duties in the engine room. The Third Engineer is responsible for the maintenance and repair of engines and related equipment. The Chief Electrician, assisted by First, Second and Assistant Electricians, has the ultimate responsibility of overseeing that electrical power is available throughout the ship. The First Electrician is familiar with the complete operation and maintenance of the electrical plant. Duties include training Assistant Electricians in safety procedures and assigned duties. The Electrician is responsible for the maintenance and repair of electrical installations and equipment onboard, as assigned by the First Electrician. The Air Conditioning Technician, reporting to the Chief Engineer and also known as the Refrigeration Engineer, is responsible for the operation and maintenance of the ventilation and air conditioning system onboard the ship. The Bosun is responsible for daily maintenance and cleaning of engines and mechanical equipment. The Plumber, reporting to the Chief Engineer is responsible for the maintenance and repair of pipes, water closets, showers and tubs.     Back to Menu



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