Please, read carefully the following section before you e-mail us your inquires. You might be able to find the answers here.
Considering the fact that most of the major cruise lines are not based in Hong Kong, the information and requirements listed below apply to these companies.
What are the minimum age requirements for shipboard employment?
In general cruise lines require minimum 21 years of age for shipboard employment except for photographers, entertainers, dancers and musicians (18 years of age) and Beauty Salon/Spa personnel (19).
Can I apply for employment with a major cruise line in case I live outside the own country?
Yes, all the major cruise lines hire crew members from all over the world. Although these cruise lines are based in the United States, their ships are registered in Panama, Liberia, Marshall Islands or the Bahamas and the employment regulations are slightly different.
What kind of official documentation is required in order to obtain employment with an europe based cruise line (i.e. passports, visas etc.)?
citizens need just a passport, valid for at least three months after the end of the contract. All nationalities need a C1-D Seaman’s visa, which is easy to obtain (it takes about several business days) from Marin Department of Hong Kong
Can couples work together on the same cruise ship?
Cruise lines will often give serious consideration to hiring pairs of people that are interested in working together at the same location because the companionship will often result in both employees staying longer with the company. Nevertheless, each cruise line reserves the right to send each crew memebr to a ship where he or she is needed the most at a specific time.
What are the health requirements i.e. immunization, medical examination etc.?
Once offered a contract by a cruise line, all applicants must pass a medical examinations by designated by the particular cruise line physicians (cruise lines have their own list of physicians for every country). Applicants will be responsible for the cost of the examination (about 60-70 $US), some cruise lines might reimburse crew members for that cost after joining the vessel. Immunization generally is not required, sometimes it is offered onboard the vessel.
What about healthcare and dental coverage while onboard a ship?
There is a full health coverage onboard the ship. It is recommended to buy a travel medical insurance before joining a ship. Cruise lines do not provide dental coverage except in cases of extreme emergencies. They could provide assistance in finding a dentist ashore, but in most cases the crew member is responsible for the cost of treatment.
Is the crew member responsible for transportation to and from the ship?
No, in case you are offered a contract by a cruise line, they will be responsible for the return air transportation between the nearest international airport to your home and the port of embarkation, wherever in the world that port will be. Since cruise lines are flying thousands of people every day (passengers and crew), they get tickets from the airlines at a very low price.
Do cruise lines provide benefits i.e. paid vacation, pension plan etc.?
No, cruise lines do not provide paid vacation or pension plans.
Is the food and accommodation free for crew members onboard a cruise ship and what are the living arrangements for crew?
Yes, this is what makes a cruise ship career financially attractive and compensates for the lack of employment benefits (paid vacation etc.). Crew members almost do not have any expenses while onboard a vessel. Living arrangements vary by cruise line, but mostly by shipboard position. Senior officers enjoy single cabins, in general two employees share a cabin with a shower, WC and a TV set. The best accommodations are reserved for passengers, of coarse.
Are there uniform requirements? If so, who provides the uniform?
Yes, there are uniforms required, provided by the cruise line with a very few exceptions (Guest Entertainers, Guest Musicians). There is a dress code for every evening onboard a cruise ship i.e. formal night, semi-formal night or casual night. Crew members, working in passenger areas of the vessel are expected to follow the dress code.
Do crew members get to see the ports which the ship is visiting?
Yes, crew members are free to visit the ports of call when they are not on duty. Leisure time varies between shipboard positions (Guest Entertainers could perform once or a few times a week, other positions require six to eight hours work a day), after all applicants get paid by cruise lines to work on the ship.
Are there any recreational areas on a cruise ship for crew members?
Yes, every modern cruise vessel is equipped with a crew fitness center, a crew recreation room (simply crew bar) and a crew deck with a swimming pool and jacuzzi. In general cruise lines are taking a very good care of the well being of the crew members, since it could affect the quality of work and passenger service.
Are the employees allowed to purchase goods onboard cruise ships and do they get any discounts?
Yes, crew members enjoy duty free prices onboard a cruise ships.
What are the policies of cruise lines towards use of drugs and narcotics?
Zero tolerance, crew members get fired, disembarked and submitted to local authorities immediately with no exceptions, regardless of ship’s location. There are also frequent drug tests performed onboard, any applicant thinking of drugs use while on a ship, should simply forget about cruise lines employment. There is no way around!
What is the standard length of a contract on a cruise ship?
Most cruise lines offer minimum four to six months contracts, depending on the cruise line or/and position, contracts could be extended or employees could take time off and then go back for another contract.
What are the regulations regarding premature termination of employment?
The contract with a cruise line will be automatically terminated at the date stated on the contract as an end date. It could be renewed by mutual agreement between employee (contractor) and the cruise line. In case the employee (contractor) wishes to terminate the contract earlier than the end date, the employee (contractor) will be responsible for the cost of transportation going back home. In case a crew member gets fired from the job, the cruise line will be responsible for the return transportation, but in this case the crew member can not return to the same cruise line for employment.
What are the destinations for cruise ships and can employees choose a destination that they would like to work (Southeast Asia, Caribbean, etc.) or is that up to the cruise lines to decide?
Cruise lines offer destinations worldwide, but the biggest markets for the cruise industry are the Caribbean (all seasons), Alaska and Europe (in the summer). Most of the cruise lines do not offer a choice for first time employees, they hire wherever they have openings, after one or two contracts employees get some choice of ships and destinations.
Are the crew members expected to perform some duties other than their work onboard?
Some cruise lines require all the crew members to participate in weekly safety drills (demonstrating safety equipment to passengers, life jackets etc.)
After all, what are the plus and minus sides about working on a cruise ship in general?
Cruise Ships Employment is not suitable just for every person. There is a great amount of discipline and hard work required. Applicants should be “team players” and enjoy working with people, to be able to live and share relatively limited space with fellow crew members, to work away from home for a long period of time (a few months) and before everything else to be very much service orientated. There is nothing more important than quality of service onboard of a cruise ship. Passengers are always right, even when they are wrong.
“On the other hand there are numerous advantages about working on cruise ships. Saving substantial amount of money for a short period of time, traveling around the world, meeting people from many different nationalities and cultures, developing professional skills and gaining working experience”.——Hong Kong Cruise Services Limited