Cruise ship work is tough but rewarding

In response to a number of queries we have had from readers today we deal with hospitality jobs in the cruise ship sector. It all sounds impossibly glamorous. To help us peek beyond the swish veneer, we put a number of questions to Elaine Blood of Ambassador Recruitments (, one of Ireland’s leading recruiters of hospitality workers on cruise ships.

LIAM HORAN: What kind of hospitality jobs are available in the cruise ship sector?

ELAINE BLOOD: The four key areas are bar, restaurant, accommodation staff and chef de partie. Generally, what happens is that everyone starts at entry level and then works their way up because it doesn’t always transfer that if you are a manager or a supervisor on land that you will be able to do the job when you go to sea.

It’s tough work. It’s seven days a week for four months, ten to 12 hours a day. However, it’s also a fantastic opportunity to see places of the world that you only dream about. You make friends for life. The money is good. The experience and skills you will gain on the cruise ship will set you up for life.

LH: What kind of qualifications and training do you look for?

EB: Ideally a hospitality qualification and then two or more years’ experience in a 4- or 5-star hotel or restaurant. For chef de parties, two years’ experience with French, classically-trained chefs. 

LH: What four tips would you give to people looking for work in this industry?

EB: Your CV is key. You’ve got to make sure you build on it and get into the right places under the right managers who take you under their wing and give you all the right experience.

The second thing is to research the cruise industry. Not all cruise companies are the same so you’ve got to make sure you go in with your eyes wide open.

Third, if you are lucky enough to get into the cruise industry, you’ve got to make sure that you give 110 per cent. The industry is very small and everybody knows everybody. You want to make sure you leave on a good note so that it opens a door for you in the future to get in with another cruise company or to get back with the same company.

The last thing I would say is to remember that it is not a holiday. It is very rewarding, but you’re going to work extremely hard for that period of time and then obviously you gain all that extra experience.

LH: Does a career on the cruise ships set candidates up for work on terra firma – how good is it on your CV?

EB: I think it’s an incredible, invaluable thing to have on your CV. From the point of view that you get to pick up skills that you would only think about – customer service, attitude, attention to detail, the correct way of doing things. You will be tested to the limit on the cruise industry which makes everything afterwards very easy for you. So it is a great stepping stone for people who are working their way up the ranks and want to get to that management level quite fast.