Could Working on a Cruise Ship Be Your Dream Job?

by Debra Karplus

Could Working on a Cruise Ship Be Your Dream Job photo

If the idea of working on a cruise ship intrigues you, read on for some details of this offbeat, but potentially fun job.

Love Boat, a very popular sitcom with a romantic edge, that ran from 1977-1987 (and many years of reruns since then) kept us laughing each week as we were entertained by the foibles of the Captain, the ship doctor, the purser (he handled the money), the cruise director, and assorted other comedic ship personnel and passengers. They really looked like they were having a lot of fun, and they probably were! There was often even some romance occurring on the ship with passengers, staff, or both.

COVID all but shut down cruise travel, but at some point cruise ships will set sail once again and people will be back cruising.

Perhaps you’ve imagined working on a cruise ship, having fun, and seeing a bit of the world outside of your home town. Here are some resources that can help you decide if working on a cruise ship might be a good job prospect for you.

Can you be away from home for long stretches?

If your life is unencumbered in such a way that you can be away from home for long stretches of time, and you enjoy being on a cruise ship and the variety that each day has to offer, perhaps living and working on a cruise ship could be your dream job.

Possibly you are a relatively young and unattached person just out of college but not quite ready to delve into your trained career. Or maybe you are a newlywed, and you and your spouse can both find jobs on a ship.

Retirees may find interesting job opportunities on sea as well. If selling your home and living in a recreational vehicle (RV) is just not your thing, maybe working on a cruise ship will provide you with the perfect retirement situation.

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Possible cruise ship job opportunities

The jobs you saw on Love Boat are just a small smattering of employment opportunities that can be found on a real cruise ship. There are many, many more!

Often there is a nurse onboard or even a dentist. The kitchen and bar employs a large number of staff. There are licensed people hired to do hair and nails and give professional massages. People are hired to perform housekeeping and cleaning and maintenance tasks on a cruise ship. The entertainment department on a cruise ship and customer service staff make sure you are always having a great time and that all your needs are met all the time. If the ship has a pool, a gym, or a casino, staff is needed to work these areas. There are also many behind-the-scene jobs including jobs in the ship office that takes care of details you may never have considered.

How much money can you earn working on a cruise ship?

Many of the ship jobs are hourly rather than salaried. Medical jobs, such as the ship doctor, pay the competitive wage that a licensed physician would expect to earn. Lesser trained personnel can earn $1400 to $1800 monthly, according to That translates to about $36,000 yearly.

Though the hours can be very long, if you calculate that you have essentially no living expenses such as housing, utilities, food, insurance, transportation, or even entertainment, it’s not a bad gig. And, of course, there is the intangible perk of the incredibly memorable adventures you will have from your time working on the ship.

Where can you find career opportunities to work on a cruise ship here or abroad?

There is a surprisingly extensive amount of both general and specific information online about cruise ship jobs with detail even about wearing a uniform, where you will sleep, where you will eat, your work contract, and transportation to and from the ship, since few people live in a portal city. Just do a quick search and you’ll see.

General employment websites such as or list ship jobs along with all sorts of other jobs.

There are also websites specific to cruise ship jobs such as and If there is a particular cruise line that sparks your interest, you can find employment information on their website, such as Princess Cruises ( or Viking Cruises (

The website lists some impressive statistics about cruise ships. Pre-COVID, yearly revenue from the cruise ship industry was about $37.85 billion. There were over 314,000 cruise ship industry jobs just in the United States. Over 20 million were embarking on a cruise ship vacation annually. About 60% of cruise ships originated in North American.

So, if the idea of working on a cruise ship intrigues you, you would be foolish not to investigate the details of this seemingly offbeat but potentially very fun job once ships are ready to set ail once again.

Reviewed March 2021

About the Author

Debra is an occupational therapist, accountant, teacher and freelance writer. She is a writer for Advance for Occupational Therapy Practitioners. She also writes for Grand Magazine, has some items (fiction and non fiction) selling on (Kindle), has written several travel articles for the Champaign-Urbana News-Gazette and several articles for and volunteers as a money mentor for the University of Illinois Cooperative Extension money mentoring program. Learn more about her at


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