Cruise Ship Jobs: cruise line, student cruises, travelercruise
By: Staff (justin) 2012.02.28
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An Interview with Mark Landon
Mark Landon is the author of Cruise Ship Crews (www.shipjobs.com),
a resouce book on all the inside details of the cruise industry. He
worked on cruise ships for six years, eight different ships, and on
four different lines. Mark shares some of his insider tips with us about
the high seas.
Student Traveler: Did you have a favorite port of call when on ships?
Mark Landon: Probably Venice, Italy. Pretty much everywhere in the Mediterranean
is great because there aren't very many sea days, and there's so much
variety. A sea day is when the ship sails all day because the destination
ports are too far apart. The Caribbean tends to be all the same, if
you've seen one island, I think you've seen them all.
Student Traveler: Especially in reference to the sea days, even though you're traveling,
technically, do you really feel as if you get to see these places since
you're "on the job"?
Mark Landon: Here's the natural order of things. When the ship is in port,
most of the passengers get off the ship, so hotel department and entertainment
department services naturally are at a minimum. So people in those departments
get time off, which is what most people want. Crew members in deck and
engine departments, work the same number of hours everyday regardless
of being in port. Hotel and entertainment do get ashore, though not
as much time as the passengers. You may only get five or six hours off,
but if you visit that port ten times during your contract, you get to
know that city pretty well.
Student Traveler: What kind of jobs are available, like in the entertainment department,
especially for students or recent graduates?
Mark Landon: Students should avoid a job such as deckhand, bellboy, busboy,
dishwasher, and painter. The jobs that are good for students, entry
level opportunities, are assistant purser (which is like an administrative
assistant), receptionist (like in any hotel), activities director. This
is an excellent opportunity for someone with great social skills. This
is just a staff of individuals that organize activities for passengers,
helps out with any and all lectures, sometimes they work backstage for
entertainment shows. They also perform gangway duty, when they have
to put on their uniforms and stand at the gangway to greet passengers
when they arrive. Another good job would be retail sales assistant in
the giftshop. Pretty much a no-brainer. Bar waiter is good too. DJ,
believe it or not, even if someone has no DJ skills, is great. Most
jobs aren't very difficult, so the cruise line isn't looking for technical
details, but social skills.
Student Traveler: Do you get hired for single cruises? or you can be sent anywhere,
Alaska one week, the Caribbean the next?
Mark Landon: No, you'll get one contract, on one ship, that lasts three to six
months. Sometimes students try to negotiate contract dates to fit scholastic
schedules. I would advise anyone to get the shortest contract possible,
because some people really can't hack the lifestyle. Other people fall
in love with it and get addicted, as I did.
Student Traveler: What parts make it difficult for some, but great for others?
Mark Landon: You have to make some sacrifices in terms of creature comforts.
You have to share a cabin. You don't always get to eat exactly what
you want, when you want. It can be pretty loud sometimes at night. If
you can forego some comforts, you'll be rewarded greatly.
Student Traveler: What are some of the rewards?
Mark Landon: Well, the opportunity to travel, and to work in a multicultural
environment, which is a double-edged sword. When you've got 20 or 30
different cultures to blend in with. On the one hand it's exciting to
get up close and learn about other cultures, but at the same time you
have to be tolerant of things they may do that you don't necessarily
Student Traveler: How should a student go about trying to get a cruise ship job?
Mark Landon: They have to send a cover letter, a resume, and a photograph. Cruise
ship jobs are very competitive, so you've got to get it right, professionally,
the first time. The big thing is to stress social skills, present yourself
professionally, use some letterhead, make it look like any official
correspondence. Demonstrate your skills, your activities and experience
that are applicable. Another very important thing for students - don't
make the fact that you are a student be the predominant theme of your
correspondence. Don't think that because you're a student you'll get
any special consideration.
Student Traveler: Where do you send your resume once it's ready?
Mark Landon: Not all jobs are hired by the cruise line. Some jobs are hired
through concessionaires. Concessionares are a third party that sets
up facilities on the ship, hires their own employees, and shares in
the profits with the cruise line. Concessions include the gift shop,
the beauty salon, photography services, and the casino. If you were
to apply for those jobs with the cruise ships it would be a waste of
time. There are about 32 or 33 major cruise lines North Americans would
get a chance to work for. Obviously, they are all listed in my book,
and on the web. Concessionaires are also in my book, but are difficult
to find on your own. One of the big ones is Steiner Group in Miami Beach,
Student Traveler: What are the differences between large and small cruise ships?
Mark Landon: Let's talk in terms of big cruise ships (400-2000 passengers),
and adventure class cruise ships (100-200 passengers). The adventure
class ships are smaller and can go places the big ships can't access,
river ports, etc... The travel experience on an adventure class ship
would be better then, for that reason of access. Some of these smaller
ships though, would only have 40 or 60 crew memebers. Comraderie is
pretty tight. But a small ship doesn't have an entertainment department.
For me, the more people, the bigger the ship, the more I like it because
there's more things to do.
Student Traveler: What's the pay like?
Mark Landon: The pay for Cruise ship job is similar to land-based jobs. Entry level jobs can pay
anywhere from $400-$600 per week. All the bills associated with living
on land are gone (rent, food, utilities, car insurance). It's really
easy to save money, though I never tried to, but in spite of myself
I saved money.