What It’s Like To Work On A Cruise Ship (And How You Can Get A Job)

February 14, 2018
how to get a job on a cruise ship

Want a job that allows you to save money while traveling around the world? That’s exactly the kind of gig that Jaime Dee has had for the past 10 years. Jaime is a cruise director with Carnival, a position that has afforded her a life of travel, adventure, and friends from all over the world.

How to get a job on a cruise line

She started her cruise career because she wasn’t sure what to do after college. But, after realizing how much she loved the lifestyle, she stuck with it and moved her way up the ranks.

I had the chance to interview Jaime, and ask her how she started her career with Carnival. She shares her journey, what cruise life is like, and how you can get a job with Carnival cruise line too.

Here’s what she had to say:



How did you first discover that you could work on a cruise ship?

Before being a part of the Carnival Cruise Line family, I had previously sailed on two cruises.  My high school friend brought me during our senior spring break.  I had such a great time that I saved to return a few years later during college.  I enjoyed interacting with the people, and I even hosted my own games by the pool with my fellow vacationers and thought it would be a fun job for the future!  


how to get a job on a cruise ship


As college graduation approached, I really wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. I thought about what my dream job would be.  I knew I wanted to travel and meet people and my mother recommended applying to work on a cruise ship.  I only sent one application to one cruise line — and that was Carnival as a social host — the position was, appropriately enough, hosting deck games by games the pool!  

RELATED: How This Couple Travels The World For Free By Housesitting

After applying, interviewing, praying and planning, I got the job!  I thought I would be gone for six months and get a “real job.”  Well, here I am more than 10 years later and I still enjoy working on board more than ever!  I learned quickly that there was a lot more to the position than just hosting games by the pool!

What made it seem appealing to you?

The most appealing aspects of working on board a cruise ship have evolved for me throughout my 10-plus years with Carnival.  At first, my favorite parts of the job were visiting new and beautiful places and working with team members from all over the world.  I loved learning about where they were from and how some of their lives were drastically different from my own.


 I enjoyed watching my collection of souvenir magnets grow as I went from ship to ship and visited new destinations.  As assistant cruise director, I learned to take great pride in being able to positively contribute to guests vacations.  I always wanted a career that I could help people, when I came to the realization that offering guests a smile and an enjoyable vacation was helping, it motivated me to continue to give all my efforts to make guests happy!  

how to get a job on a cruise ship


Since being promoted to cruise director and even after 10 years I continue to love the stage aspects of my position and meeting and interacting with our guests.  I now feel most fulfilled to help the new entertainment staff achieve their professional goals.  Seeing them move up the ranks to cruise director, entertainment director, and other positions makes me so feel proud and grateful.


What kind of criteria or background did you have to have to land a job?

To work on board as a cruise director or entertainment staff member there really are no specific background requirements but having microphone or stage experience is certainly a plus. During interviews, the hiring committee looks for fun, hard-working, hospitality oriented individuals that want to be a part of a fun team to create incredible and memorable experiences for our guests!  

RELATED: How Teaching in China Launched Amy’s Career and Landed Her a Remote Job so She Can Travel More

Within the entertainment department, one must have experience with the position they are applying, of course.  To be a performer in one of our award-winning reviews, they need to be an incredible singer and dancer, to be a musician one must have great stage presence and musical ability, etc. Working on board is also being a part of a family.  Beyond being talented on stage, one needs to be able to be friendly and helpful to guests and crew while not performing.  

how to get a job on a cruise ship

Given that we’re among the most visible employees on board, there’s never really a time where you are not “on” in terms of interacting with guests.  Also, every team member needs to be able to learn certain safety responsibilities to ensure our guests’ safety at all times!  It is all part of the job!


Before working for Carnival, I graduated from Michigan State University (Go Spartans!) with a degree in Community Relations and Psychology.  I knew I loved working with people, but did not know what I wanted to do!  I spent my summers as assistant director of a children’s theater camp for over 10 years!  Aboard ship, my campers are now just a little older!  

how to get a job on a cruise ship

Through high school and college I spent weekends as a performer at an interactive dinner theater. Afternoons I worked as a receptionist at a chiropractor’s office. At night, I was involved in many student organizations.  Even through college I always stayed active and busy — hence the bustle of a cruise ship environment is a great fit to my active personality.  Currently, I am working to achieve my Masters in Hospitality Administration at University of Las Vegas, Nevada.  This is certainly not a requirement of the job but everything I learn helps me to become a better cruise director, team member and department leader.

What are some of the top perks of your job?

I have been so fortunate working for Carnival Cruise Line and have been provided many benefits, including traveling all over the world!  I have visited Australia, South America, the Baltic, the Mediterranean, Caribbean, Alaska, Hawaii and more!  I get to travel for six months at a time to beautiful destinations and have a two-month break to enjoy my family and friends.  

how to get a job on a cruise ship

While working, we get free room and board, so there is a great opportunity to save money… or do tons of online shopping.  I feel like I am a part of a great organization that listens to their employees and fosters talent to help them achieve their goals.  Finally, I have made extraordinary friendships with guests and crew.  The team you work with truly becomes family!  I now have a couch to sleep on in every country in the world!

Could you give me a quick rundown of a typical day for you?

One of the best parts about working aboard the cruise ship is there is no such thing as a “typical day.”  There are always minor details such as weather challenges when we have to move some of our activities on board,   that can affect the flow of a fun day at sea.  That being said, within a day at sea, while our guests are relaxing and getting involved in the awesome activities we have planned, myself and my team are running around ensuring all the fun is well organized and implemented in a precise fashion.

how to get a job on a cruise ship

My day usually begins with checking emails in the morning before hosting the ever-popular Morning Show on board (it’s like a TV show you would have on land – except it’s on a ship!).   I then oversee various events – everything from an overview of our ports, calling bingo or conducting trivia games.

RELATED: This Professional Quit Her Job to Become a Digital Nomad and Live on Her Own Terms

 One of my favorite activities is hosting the Seuss-a-palooza Parade and Story – part of our Seuss at Sea program – where we have a fun parade and then reenact a popular Dr. Seuss book on stage.  I’m a certified Zumba trainer so I host a class every cruise – keeps me in shape!  My day also includes meeting guests, introducing shows and hosting deck parties and so much else!  

how to get a job on a cruise ship

Throughout the day we also receive phone calls, emails, and guest inquiries and all must be attended to in a timely fashion!  I have an amazing team of Fun Squad members helping me to make sure everything runs smoothly.  We have very busy days but they we are the center of the fun, so we always keep a smile on our face.  We realize if we are having fun, so will our guests!

What job/life skills have you learned from working on cruise ships?

how to get a job on a cruise ship
Working on board has given me a plethora of skills that will be utilized in life and future careers!  I have learned so much about teamwork, hospitality, customer service, how to stay positive, how to work with diverse populations, problem solving and how to be flexible and create something fun out of any situation.   

What advice would you give to others who were thinking about applying for this kind of job?

how to get a job on a cruise ship
If anyone is considering working on board a cruise ship, I highly recommend pursuing this career!   It’s a great opportunity to see the world, save money, and make extraordinary friendships that will last a lifetime!  It is great to have a background in hospitality, theater, summer camps or communications and also you have be computer proficient.

Are you hiring?! How/where could my readers apply?

Carnival is always hiring and looking to find great people to add to the family.  For entertainment jobs specifically, they are posted at CarnivalEntertaiment.com for all other positions, check out CCLCareers.com.  Within the entertainment department specifically the casting and booking team travels all over the U.S., Canada, and Europe even Australia looking for top talent.  All the details can be found on the website!

RELATED: 7 Actionable Steps To Change Your Life And Travel The World

Want to find out how you can travel more? Join the Lives Abroad newsletter for international jobs, internships, volunteer opportunities, and travel tips.


Get Travel Opportunities Sent to Your Inbox

* indicates required

You Might Also Like