Cruise Ship Jobs Unveiled: Types, Pay Scale & Eligibility for a Thriving Maritime Career

29 April, 2022

Cruise Ship Jobs Unveiled: Types, Pay Scale & Eligibility for a Thriving Maritime Career.

Thousands of people work on a cruise ship in different departments from across 50 countries to make each cruise rail smoothly. Types of cruise ship jobs are generally divided into 2 categories: 

  1. Deck and Engine Department 
  2. Guest Service operations 

Let’s have a look at both of the departments on cruise ship jobs and the types of jobs available in both of them, along with their pay scale. 

Types of jobs available on Cruise Ships

A. Crew (Deck and Engine Department) Cruise Ship Jobs

The marine operations division employees do everything that is vital to keep the ship running smoothly. The employees working in the Deck and Engine department are responsible for keeping the ship well-maintained and making sure it is functioning properly.

The crew also looks after the health and safety of everyone onboard the ship, keeps detailed records, and is knowledgeable of maritime laws and regulations. Apart from the Captain of the ship, there are a plethora of crew members working behind the scenes. For working in the Deck/Engine Department, you need to complete specialized pre-sea training from a D.G. approved college.

Below is the list of types of jobs available in the Deck and Engine Department on Cruise Ships.

1. Captain/Master of the ship

The Captain is the cruise ship’s highest-ranked officer and the Master. He/she has complete power to make executive decisions in order to protect the lives and safety of the ship’s staff and guests, and he/she must use the utmost caution and sound judgment.

Salary of the Captain of the Cruise Ship: The average cruise ship captain salary for a major cruise line is typically between US$9000 to US$13000 per month.

2. Staff Captain

After the captain of the ship, the Staff Captain is the second in command aboard the cruise ship. He/She is also the head of the Deck Department. The Staff captain has to be conversant with all of the Master’s tasks and responsibilities and must be capable of taking charge of the vessel. 

Salary of the Staff Captain of the Cruise Ship: Depending upon the cruise line and time served with the company, the salary for a staff captain of a cruise line ranges between 6000 to 8000 US Dollars per month or up.

3. Safety Officer

The Safety Officer is in charge of passenger and crew safety exercises, abandon ship protocols, crew safety training, ship tender monitoring, and safety instructions for all onboard staff, with special emphasis on emergency procedures and fire fighting.

Salary of the Safety Officer of the Cruise Ship: The average cruise ship Safety Officer’s salary for a major cruise line is typically between 5000 to 8000 US Dollars per month.

4. Environmental Compliance Officer

The Environmental Compliance Officer (ECO or EO) is a three-stripe, non-watch standing officer. He/She is in charge of following the cruise line’s environmental policy, as well as the training, implementation, and verification of regulatory compliance as it relates to relevant environmental laws.

Salary of the ECO or EO of the Cruise Ship: Depending upon the Cruise line and the contracts served, the average salary of the ECO of a cruise ship lies between US$1,000 to US$6,000 per month.

5. 1st Officer – Navigation

The Officer of the watch (OOW) is a designated navigation officer and is responsible for all navigation and watchkeeping issues. He/She reports to the Staff captain.

Salary of the 1st Officer of the Cruise Ship: Depending upon the Cruise line that the Officer is working with, the salary of the 1st Officer lies between US$5500 to US$8000 per month.

6. 2nd Officer

The 2nd Officer is a two-stripe Navigation and Watch Keeping Officer and Bridge Team Member. During his/her watch the OOW is representing the Master and reports to the Chief Officer. 

Salary of the 2nd Officer of the Cruise Ship: The average salary of the 2nd Officer on the Cruise Ship ranges between US$4700 to US$7000 per month.

7. 3rd Officer

The Third Officer is an assistant to the OOW or the Junior Watch Keeping Officer on the ship. Reports to the Officer of the Watch (either 1st or 2nd Officer) for navigation and watchkeeping aspects and to the Staff Captain for all other tasks.

Salary of the 3rd Officer of the Cruise Ship: Depending upon the Cruise line and the contracts served, the average salary of the 3rd Officer of a cruise ship lies between US$4,500 to US$6,200 per month.

8. Deck Cadet

The list of Deck Cadet duties includes maintaining ship areas, making sure that lifesaving equipment is available and functioning, performing necessary repairs, assisting with the driving of the ship, mooring, and anchoring, and handling various port operations.

Salary of the Deck Cadet of the Cruise Ship: A Deck Cadet on a Cruise Ship earns around US$1500 to US$2200 per month, which gradually increases as contracts complete.

9. Chief Security Officer

The Chief Security Officer is a three-striped officer in charge of enforcing the company’s security policy as well as all security activities on board the cruise ship when at sea and in port. He or she must be a properly qualified security specialist who is knowledgeable about illegal drug trafficking and anti-terrorist tactics.

Salary of the Chief Security Officer of the Cruise Ship: The Chief Security Officer on a Cruise Ship earns approximately US$4500 to US$7000 per month.

10. Deputy Security Officer

The Deputy Security Officer is a two-stripe officer whose main responsibility is to control and supervise all points of entry to the cruise ship. He/she reports to the Chief Security Officer and to the Staff Captain. He/she Performs security and safety inspections of the ship on a regular basis in order to ensure that appropriate security measures are maintained and all safety equipment is in proper working condition.

Salary of the Deputy Security Officer of the Cruise Ship: Depending upon the Cruise ship’s paying standards, a Deputy Security Officer can earn around US$2200 to US$3800 per month.

11. Security Guard

The Security Guard is in charge of the ship’s access points as well as the screening of visitors, personnel, and their luggage. While the ship is in port, the Security Guard is stationed at the Gangway, and while at anchor, the Security Guard is stationed at the tender docking stations both ashore and on the vessel.

Salary of the Security Guard of the Cruise Ship: US$1200 to US$1800 per month is the normal salary range of a Security guard on a cruise ship.

12. Bosun

The Bosun or Boatswain is the highest-ranking rating (non-officer) position in the Deck Department. The Bosun is in charge of all subordinate deck rating positions aboard the cruise ship and his/her main duties and responsibilities include supervising, coordinating, and coaching evaluating all non-officer deck personnel – Quartermaster, Carpenter, Able Seaman, Ordinary Seaman positions.

Salary of the Bosun of the Cruise Ship: The average salary of the Bosun lies between US$2500 to US$4700 per month and up depending on the cruise line and time served with the company.

13. Able Seaman

The Able Seaman (AB) is a non-officer member of the deck crew (deck rating position). The duties of Able Seaman include performing a variety of routine maintenance duties in order to preserve the painted surface of the ship such as chipping, cleaning, painting, and removing rust spots from the deck and sides of the ship.

Salary of the Able Seaman of the Cruise Ship: An Able Seaman secures a salary ranging between US$1300 to US$2600 on a Cruise Ship.

14. Ordinary Seaman

This is the department’s entry-level non-watch standing rank, and the OS functions as an assistant to the Able Seaman, learning the profession and gaining experience while working in order to promote to the AB position after accumulating sufficient sea time and passing the appropriate exams.

Salary of the Ordinary Seaman of the Cruise Ship: The average cruise ship salary of an Ordinary Seaman for a major cruise line is typically between US$1200 to US$1800 per month.

15. Firefighting Team Leader

A cruise ship’s Fireman (Firefighter Team Leader) is a one and a half or two-stripe petty officer who is in charge of directing and managing the onboard Firefighting Team’s actions in terms of fire risks prevention and successful fire fighting.

Salary of the Firefighting Team Leader of the Cruise Ship: The average salary of a Cruise Ship’s firefighting team leader ranges between US$4900 to US$5700. 

B. Staff (Guest Service operations) Cruise Ship Jobs

Apart from the crew working in the Deck/Engine Department, the rest of the employees on a cruise ship all form part of the overall guest service operations. This category of types of jobs on Cruise ships is made up of several little departments including Hospitality, Activity and ShipBoard Entertainment, Personal and Medical Care, and more. 

People working in these departments generally interact directly with the guests and serve as the front face of the Cruise Crew. For working in the Guest Service Operations Department, you need to hold relevant experience of at least 2-3 years. 

Below is the list of types of jobs available in the Guest Service Operations Department on Cruise Ships.

1. Hotel Director

The Hotel Director of a Cruise ship plans, coordinates, and controls the operation of the Hotel organization. He/She directs the function of all Hotel personnel through the management of department heads. He/She ensures the highest level of guest satisfaction by providing quality guest services and amenities.

Salary of the Hotel Director of the Cruise Ship: The salary of the Hotel Director starts from US$7000 per month and can go up as per the Cruise Ship standards. 

2. Head Chef

The Head Chef is in charge of overseeing the preparation of all meals on a cruise ship. He/She manages the galley staff and plans the menus and works closely with the ship’s food and beverage manager to keep costs within budget. The FNB department is one of the most popular types of jobs on Cruise ships.

Salary of the Head Chef of the Cruise Ship: Depending upon the Cruise line and contracts completed, the average salary of the Head chef ranges between US$5800 to US$7400 per month.

3. Assistant F&B/Bar Manager

Responsible for ensuring efficient management and the highest possible level of all food and beverage services aboard the cruise ship while at the same time meeting the budget targets of the cruise line and maintaining cost-effective operations.

Salary of the Assistant F&B/Bar Manager of the Cruise Ship: The Assistant F&B/Bar Manager can earn from US$4800 to US$6700 per month.

4. Waiter/Waitress

The Waiter/Waitress is responsible for all food and service-related issues within his/her workstation and serves passengers according to the highest standards set by the cruise line. They must relay all passengers’ orders to the galley, then serve the various courses and beverages making sure that all items look presentable and are properly garnished and decorated before serving.

Salary of the Waiter/Waitress of the Cruise Ship: The Waiter/Waitress can earn US$2500 US$4200 per month depending on the cruise line, size of the ship, and gratuities received from passengers.

5. Bartender

The Bartenders on a Cruise ship are responsible for providing professional and courteous service to passengers in all bars and beverage outlets throughout the cruise ship as well as serving staff and crew members in the crew bar.

Salary of the Bartender of the Cruise Ship: A Bartender can earn US$2200 US$3600 per month depending on the cruise line, size of the ship, and gratuities received from passengers.

6. Chief Housekeeper/Assistant Chief Housekeeper

The chief Housekeeper is the supervisor of the housekeeping department: cabin services, room services, bell services, passenger baggage handling and distribution. This division is responsible for making passengers comfortable while they are in their rooms and includes the care of the cabins, room and messenger service, and laundry pick up and delivery. 

Salary of the Chief Housekeeper of the Cruise Ship: They can earn between US$3000 to US$3800 or more depending on the amount of tips and gratuities. 

7. Pursers

Chief Purser manages the company safe, ship clearance, and handles all the ship’s documents. The position supervises the front desk team, coordinates onboard special requests from the Expedition team, charterers and Passengers.

Salary of the Purser of the Cruise Ship: The average salary of the Purser on a Cruise Ship lies between US$4500 to US$5400 per month.

8. Casino Manager/Assistant Casino Manager

The casino Manager directly supervises, supports, and evaluates the performance of the subordinate casino operation positions – Assistant Casino Manager, Casino Senior Supervisor, Cash Desk Manager, Slot Manager, Casino Dealer/ Croupier, Slot Technician, and Cashier.

Salary of the Casino Manager of the Cruise Ship: The casino manager earns around US$4300 to US$5700 per month, depending on the cruise line, commission, and size of the ship.

9. Supervisor/Pit Boss

The Pit Supervisor will guarantee that the highest efficiency, guest service, and security requirements are reached in accordance with the company’s policies and procedures, as well as the directions outlined in the Casino Operations Manual.

Salary of the Pit Supervisor of the Cruise Ship: The salary of the Pit Supervisor ranges from US$1300 to US$5000 or more, depending upon the Cruise line and contracts completed. 

10. Gift Shop Manager/Salon Manager

The Gift Shop Manager oversees all the gift shops and boutiques operations, accounting, and manages retail sales staff. The salon manager oversees the entire operations envelope of the spa and fitness division aboard the cruise ship.

Salary of the Gift Shop Manager/Salon Manager: The Gift Shop manager on a Cruise Ship can earn around US$3800-US$6700 depending upon the company and the contract.

11. Cruise Director/Assistant Cruise Director

The Cruise director is the head of the entertainment department and is in charge of all onboard entertainment. He/She coordinates and implements all the daily activities, acting as a Master of Ceremonies (MC) at social activities and evening shows while the Assistant Cruise Director assists the Cruise Director with the efficient running of the team.

Salary of the Cruise Director/Assistant Cruise Director of the Cruise Ship: The salary range for the CD and ACD lies between US$4000 to US$7500 per month.

12. Music Director

The Music Director is an excellent musician who usually performs in one of the house orchestras (showbands) aboard the cruise ship. He/She reports to the Cruise Director and is in charge of the entire music department, acting as a liaison between the Cruise Director and each musician within the department.

Salary of the Music Director of the Cruise Ship: The Bandmaster or the Music Director earns a salary of US$2400 to US$3500 depending upon the type of cruise line. 

13. Band Members and Dancers

The band members and dancers perform the required shows approved by the Director of Entertainment of the cruise line or by the Production Company Manager. They report to the Cast Performance Manager and to the Cruise Director.

Salary of the Band members and dancers of the Cruise Ship: The show dancers and performers earn an average monthly salary of US$2400 to US$3200.

14. Youth Staff

The Youth Staff onboard a Cruise ship take care of organizing and leading youth activities, for all ages between 3 and 17, in designated activity centers, assigned areas and throughout the ship. They also communicate with parents in a tactful and courteous manner to generate a high level of comfort.

Salary of the Youth Staff of the Cruise Ship: Depending upon the Cruise line, the salary of the Youth Staff ranges between US$1800 to US$2200 per month.

15. Cruise Staff

The Cruise (Activities) staff hosts, coordinates, and takes care of all adult shipboard recreational, entertainment and social activities. They enthusiastically socialize with the guests in public areas and lounges throughout the ship. 

Salary of the Cruise Staff of the Cruise Ship: US$1800 to US$2200 is the salary range of the Cruise Staff on the majority of Cruise lines. 

Frequently Asked Questions on Cruise Ship Jobs

1. How do you get a job on a cruise ship?

To get a job on a Cruise ship, you can apply through a recruitment agency. Major cruise lines have officially licensed recruiting agencies and hiring partners all around the world that handle acquiring and evaluating job applications as well as scheduling individual and group job interviews. You can also apply through the Cruise company’s website or attend a Cruise job fair.

2. Do cruise ship jobs pay well?

Cruise ship jobs can pay really well. Even the lowest salary range lies between US$1500 to US$2000 per month. For higher positions, the salary range can go as above as US$60,000 to US$1,00,000 per month. Check out the details above to know the salary range of specific job types on a Cruise ship.

3. What are people who work on cruises called?

People working on a Cruise Ship/types of Cruise Ship Jobs are divided into two categories: Deck & Engine Department and Guest Service Operations. The Deck/Engine department includes positions like Captain, Deck cadet, Environmental officer, Safety officer, etc. The Guest Service Operations include positions like Cruise director, Hotel director, Head chef, Casino manager, Music director, and more.

4. What qualifications do you need to work on a cruise ship?

Normally, an experience of 1-2 years is required for any designation. However, it’s possible to work on a cruise ship with no prior experience if you have transferable skills. You will have to start at an entry-level position, unless you’re applying for a specialist role that you’re already qualified for, such as a doctor. 

5. What is the best cabin position on a cruise ship?

The lower and more central positions on the ship will make you feel less swayed away. Even if you choose a balconied stateroom, choose the lowest level and the most midship one you can find. The higher decks and cabins at the very front (forward) or back (aft) of the ship will roll the most.

6. How many hours a day do cruise ship workers work?

Most cruise ship workers will work between 10 and 12 hours a day, seven days a week. They are normally given a number of breaks. Regulations state that crew members can’t work more than 14 hours per day. 

7. Do cruise ship workers get days off?

Generally, cruise ship workers don’t get any days off. Rather, they work for 10-12 hours a day for all the 7 days of the week during their contract, which is generally of 6-8 months. Many crew members then choose to have a break on land for 2-3 months before returning for another contract.


We hope that you now have a clear idea of the kind of cruise ship jobs available. There are lots of other jobs that fall under the hierarchy. If you wish to join a Cruise line and make a career on the seas, we’re here to help! Contact us and we’ll guide you through the complete process of joining the Cruise of your dreams!

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