20 Pros and Cons of Working on a Cruise Ship

Does traveling the world on a ship seem like your dream job?

Working on a cruise ship allows you to cruise the seas while earning a living.

At first glance, it seems like an amazing opportunity.

However, the reality is more nuanced. 

Pros of Working on a Cruise Ship 

Working on a cruise ship brings a lot of benefits. 

The pros of working on a cruise ship include:

  1. Travel 
  2. Friendship
  3. Good Pay
  4. Few living expenses
  5. Insurance Benefits
  6. Employee Discounts and Benefits
  7. Enjoyable and fun atmosphere
  8. Valuable hospitality experience
  9. Exposure to different cultures
  10. Learn new skills 
  11. Opportunities for advancement

1. Travel 

This is the most obvious pro of working on a cruise ship.

You’ll get to travel to many different locations, and you’ll get paid for it.

If you want to see the world, this is one of the best ways to do it. 

While you will be working every day while you are on the ship, you will get some time to visit ports.

You can have amazing experiences at ports of call. 

2. Friendship

You’ll be spending nearly all your time on the ship, so you’ll develop close friendships quickly.

You are also away from your old friends and family, so these friendships are crucial to your well being. 

There’s a strong sense of camaraderie on the ship as well.

You quickly become a family.

In addition to friendship, ship romances are very common.

There’s a chance you’ll find the love of your life on the ship, but it’s more common for romances to last until the two of you are no longer on the ship together. 

3. Pay

Pay varies greatly based on your position and the ship you are working on.

It’s reasonable, but not impressive, by American standards.

However, employees from lower-income countries may make much more than they can earn at home. 

4. Few Living Expenses

In the U.S., much of your pay goes to living expenses.

On a cruise ship, everything is free. 

You have free room and board, utilities, and food.

The crew is provided with a cabin, internet access, and three meals a day. 

Generally, you’ll only need to pay for alcohol and high-end meals on the ship. 

The pay itself may not be impressive by U.S. standards, but considering you can save nearly everything you earn onboard, you can save a significant amount of money. 

5. Insurance Benefits

Most cruise ships provide medical insurance for employees.

Some policies even cover the costs of returning home if you are very sick. 

6. Employee Discounts and Benefits 

Most of the services on board the ship are free for you.

However, if you do need to pay for something, like a nice restaurant meal, you’ll get a discount as an employee. 

You’ll also receive discounts for many services at port, including tours.  

7. Enjoyable and Fun Atmosphere

Cruise ships have a fun atmosphere.

The goal of the crew is to allow guests to enjoy themselves.

However, you won’t miss out on all the fun.

There’s plenty of excitement and fun for the crew as well. 

If you enjoy having a good time, a cruise ship is a great place to work.

Management makes it a priority to keep crew morale high. 

8. Valuable Hospitality Experience

The cruise industry has very high standards, so you’ll gain valuable experience working on a cruise ship.

You can go on to land based hospitality jobs.

Anyone in the hospitality industry has a lot of respect for cruise ship experience. 

9. Exposure to Different Cultures

Another benefit of working on a cruise ship is being exposed to different cultures.

You’ll work with people from all over the world.

You’ll also stop at ports, each with its own unique culture.

You can learn a lot about the world and its people in this line of work. 

10. Learn New Skills 

You’ll learn some new skills on a cruise ship.

Some of these are practical skills related to your job.

However, you’ll learn other skills as well.

These include how to deal with boredom and cabin fever, and how to get along with people that you may or may not like. 

11. Opportunities for Advancement 

Cruise ships also offer opportunities for advancement.

You may start at the bottom, but you can work your way up.

You’ll need a commitment to working on a cruise ship long-term and a strong work ethic, but there are great opportunities to be had.  

Cons of Working on a Cruise Ship

A career on a cruise ship has a lot to offer, but it has its fair share of downsides as well. 

Cons of working on a cruise ship include:

  1. Ship Politics
  2. You’ll be on the ship for months at a time
  3. Long work days
  4. On call during off hours
  5. Small living space – typically with a roommate
  6. Rude customers
  7. Strict protocols and expectations
  8. Seasickness
  9. Friends come and go 

1. Ship Politics

This is true in any career.

Some people will get away with things that are against the rules.

One person will get promoted, even though someone else deserves it more. 

This can be tougher to deal with on a cruise ship, because you are around the people you work with nearly all the time. 

2. You’ll Be On the Ship for Months at a Time

When you work on a cruise ship, you are on contract.

This means you agree to work for a set amount of time.

Contracts typically range from 4 to 8 months. 

Generally, you’ll be expected to work every day of your contract.

Once the contract is completed, you’ll get time off.

This is usually a few weeks to a few months.

It’s important to note that you won’t be paid for your time off.

Once your time off is finished, you can renew your contract and go back to work on the ship.

3. Long Work Days

In addition to working every day, you can expect to work long hours.

Shifts are 10-11 hours on most ships, although some have shorter shifts of 6 hours. 

4. On Call During Off Hours

You may not be officially on call when you are off.

However, you are on the ship, so if you are needed, you are expected to work.

If someone is sick, for example, you may be called in to work. 

5. Small Living Space

You can expect to have a small living space on a ship.

Most ships have shared rooms.

This means you’ll share your cabin with another employee of the same sex. 

Some ships have single rooms, which are smaller than double rooms.

These rooms share a bathroom with one other room.

If you work in a high level position, you may have a large room by ship standards, but these rooms are reserved for the top 2-3% of employees. 

6. Rude Customers

You’ll meet lots of amazing guests on a cruise ship.

However, you’ll also encounter some customers who are rude or even angry.

You are expected to smile and be polite, no matter how rude the customer is.

Cruise ships have a very strong “the customer is always right” viewpoint.

It’s part of the service culture on board.

Speaking rudely to a customer can get you fired, even if they are yelling at you. 

7. Strict Protocols and Expectations

Cruise ships have a high level of protocol.

Some employees compare it to the military. 

You will wear a uniform, and you are expected to act in certain ways when you are on the clock or in uniform. 

Expectations are high as well.

You are expected to perform your job well. 

When on a cruise ship, the focus is on creating an impeccable experience for guests.

This requires everyone to do their job and maintain protocol.  

8. Seasickness

If you get motion sickness, working on a cruise ship may not be the right job for you.

The motion of the ship may make you ill.

Most people say they get accustomed to the motion quickly.

However, if the seas get rough, you may find yourself very nauseous. 

9. Friends Come and Go

This is one of the hardest things about working on a cruise ship.

You’ll make great friends.

However, everyone’s contracts are up at different times.

So your best friend may leave halfway through your contract.

Some people keep in contact after their contract.

However, it’s more common to lose touch when one of you leaves the ship.  

20 Pros and Cons of Working on a Cruise Ship – Summary Table

Pros of Working on a Cruise ShipCons of Working on a Cruise Ship
TravelShip Politics
FriendshipYou'll be on the ship for months at a time
Good PayLong work days
Few living expensesOn call during off hours
Insurance BenefitsSmall living space - typically with a roommate
Employee Discounts and BenefitsRude customers
Enjoyable and fun atmosphereStrict protocols and expectations
Valuable hospitality experienceSeasickness
Exposure to different culturesFriends come and go
Learn new skills
Opportunities for advancement

Should You Work on a Cruise Ship? 

If you want to travel and don’t mind being away from home for months at a time, you should work on a cruise ship.

You can save money while seeing the world and making new friends.

Working on a cruise ship is great if you aren’t tied down with a family. 

If you get easily homesick or seasick, working on a cruise ship probably isn’t a good idea.

If you can’t handle working long hours and living in close quarters, you should consider a different line of work. 

Cruise ship life isn’t for everyone.

However, if it’s right for you, it’s an incredible experience.

If you thrive on challenges and don’t mind long working hours, you should go for it. 

Jamie Willis
Career Specialist at BecomeopediaHi, my name is Jamie Willis, and I have been helping students find their perfect internships and education paths for the last ten years. It is a passion of mine, and there really is nothing better than seeing students of mine succeed with further studies.

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