1. What kinds of documents are required in order to work for a cruise line?
You need a passport which is valid for at least 12 months. For vessels going to U.S. ports you will need to obtain a C1/D Visa at the US embassy in your country of residence (we will advise you accordingly once you have been selected for a job). Besides that you always need to provide a Criminal Background Check and most (ocean) cruise lines require an STCW95 certificate.
2. What is a STCW 95 certificate?
STCW stands for “Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers”. The international agreement regulates standards for seafarers. An STCW certificate is the qualification for working aboard a cruise ship.
All crew members working on cruise ships have to attend a recognized basic training for services on passenger ships. This includes at least:
- A-V/2 (1) Crowd Management
- A-V/2 (2) Crisis Management and Human Behaviour
- A-VI/1 (2.1.1) Personal Survival Techniques
- A-VI/1 (2.1.2) Fire prevention and fire fighting
- A-VI/1 (2.1.3) Elementary First Aid
- A-VI/1 (2.1.4) Personal Safety and Social Responsibility
- A-VI/6 (4, 6) Security-Related Familiarization Training
All persons assigned to a security role on board, captains, nautical and technical officers, engineers as well as those listed in Schiffsbesatzungszeugnis (Minimum Safe Manning Certificate) bear a high responsibility for a large number of people, significant assets and the environment. They have to complete further courses, e. g. Crowd and Crisis Management which includes:
- A-V/2 (3) Crisis Management and Human Behaviour
- A-V/2 (4) Passenger Safety, Cargo Safety and Hull Integrity
Courses are offered e.g. by S.T.A.R. Service Office in Rostock, Germany.
3. What does USPH mean?
USPH stands for “United States Public Health” and means standards of the US department for health for hygiene on board. Regularly, ships arriving at US ports are subject to unannounced inspections.
4. What are the health requirements for working on a cruise ship?
Once you have been offered a position onboard a cruise ship, you have to pass a medical examination. Some cruise lines have their own physicians who carry out these examinations. There are very different requirements for the medical examination which differ from cruise line to cruise line. In addition. some cruise lines require special vaccinations (e.g. yellow fever vaccination). In most cases, you are responsible for covering the costs of the examination. Some cruise lines reimburse the costst after joining the vessel.
5. What about healthcare and insurance while onboard a ship?
As a rule, medical care is available on board free of charge. Nonetheless, travel insurance is strongly recommended, as not all treatments are included (e.g. dentist, ophthalmologist, other specialists). Likewise, treatments of pre-existing conditions are excluded from the free basic care.
6. Who pays the travel expenses to and from the ship?
That depends on the shipping company and the position. Most cruise lines organize and pay arrival and departure after the first contract has been fulfilled.
7. Are accommodation and meals free for crew members?
Yes, both are provided free of charge.
8. What are the accommondations on board?
The accommodations vary from cruise line to cruise line and depend on the respective job position. Mostly, two people share a cabin. For middle, senior and top management positions, single cabins are usually available.
9. Are uniforms provided on board? What clothes do I bring?
Uniforms are provided by the cruise line on board – either free or for a fee. In addition, you should bring one to two sets of private workwear according to your position. You should also bring your own shoes.
If you work in the entertainment area, it is advisable to bring evening wear as well.
10. How long are the contracts?
That depends on cruise line and position. Most contracts run for six months.
11. Can I wash my clothes on board?
The laundry will wash your uniform free of charge. For private clothes the service will be charged (crew discount) or you can wash, dry and iron your clothes using special crew facilities.
12. Do I have to bring my own bedlinen and towels ?
No, both are provided o nboard.
13. Are there shopping facilities for crew members on board?
Yes. On larger cruise ships crew members can buy groceries, drinks, tobacco, cosmetics and snacks at reduced prices.
14. What crew facilities or recreational areas for crew members are available on board?
Most of the ships have a crew gym, a jogging track, a crew bar and some even have a crew deck where you can enjoy your free time.
15. Where do my colleagues come from?
From all over the world. You will meet colleagues and friends from over 50 nations.
16. How long is a normal working day?
Generally, you work between 10 and 13 hours a day depending on your position and shift planning.
17. How many days a week do I have to work?
You will be working seven days a week for the entire period of your contract.
18. Do I stay on the same ship during the contract or do I have to change?
As a rule, you stay on a shop for the entire contract. A change to another ship takes place only in exceptional cases.
19. Can I leave the ship in ports?
If you are not on duty, you can use your free time to leave the ship and explore the different countries. Your duty roster depends on your position and shift schedule.
20. Can I smoke on board?
Yes, but only in designated areas.
21. Are vegetarian menus available on board?
Yes. As a rule, vegetarian food is also offered.
22. How can I stay in touch with family and friends?
You may ask the crew purser for the ship’s phone and fax number as well as the e-mail address. Internet is available on most ships. In almost every port there are internet facilities close to the pier. When using your smartphone, pay attention to any fees incurred abroad.
23. Can family and friends visit me on board?
Some cruise lines offer special rates and conditions for family and friends.
24. How much luggage can I bring?
Usually, you travel with a so-called “Seaman’s Ticket”, which allows you to travel with up to 40 kg of luggage. It is recommended to travel with travel bags as suitcases are difficult to stow in the small cabins.