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The Toronto Sun CareerConnection

Get Cruising

By Linda White
Special to the Toronto Sun


From romantic ports of call and crewmates who call faraway places home to long shifts and shoebox accommodations, working on a cruise ship is much like the waters the vessel navigates: it has its ups and downs.
If you're a people person eager to explore the world, have a strong work ethic and can handle months away from home at a time, earning a living on the high seas can be the stuff dreams are made of.


But if you're a people person eager to explore the world, have a strong work ethic and can handle months away from home at a time, earning a living on the high seas can be the stuff dreams are made of.

"It's the perfect job for someone who's adventurous," says Lyndsey Hardy, 25, of London. She began working on cruise ships four years ago after graduating from a travel and tourism program at Lambton College in Sarnia.

Long list of ports

She's held a number of positions: youth worker, cruise activity staff, administrative assistant and youth director, and has visited a long list of ports in the Caribbean, Central America, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Alaska and the eastern coast of North America.

"Visiting so many places is certainly a huge perk," Hardy says. "You also meet a lot of people and form close relationships. You're working and living with them for weeks at a time. It's an amazing opportunity to learn about different cultures. At the same time, you're living in tight quarters and have no privacy, so you have to respect each other's differences."
Lyndsey Hardy "The perfect job"


What does it take to land a job on a cruise ship?

"We are looking for candidates who are highly energetic, motivated and absolutely love being with people," says Susan Andrews, director of Cruise Services International (www.cruisedreamjob.com).

The Whitby-based company is a hiring partner with Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruise Lines and Norwegian Cruise Lines. It conducts interviews along with representatives from the cruise ships in Toronto, Ottawa, Quebec City and Halifax. A hiring partner conducts interviews on the west coast.

Wondering if working on a cruise ship is right for you? Consider the following information from Cruise Services International:

  • Qualifications vary according to position. Many require post-secondary education and/or related experience.
  • Most contracts are six months long and can be renewed.
  • Most positions are entry-level, as most cruise lines promote from within based on job performance.
  • Salaries are competitive with those in the marketplace. Wages generally range from $1,000 to $1,700 US per month. Accommodation is provided.
  • Your responsibilities will depend on the position you are hired for. All positions are required to participate in training/safety drills and gangway duty.
  • You must have a valid passport and complete a pre-employment physical prior to joining the ship.
    FAST FACTS
  • The list of positions available on many cruise ships is long and includes bar waiter, bartender, casino cashier, computer specialist, desktop publisher, disc/video jockey, event co-ordinator, executive chef/ executive sous chef, fitness staff, florist, gift shop staff, group co-ordinator, guest relations, host/hostess, librarian, lifeguard, nurse, photographer, program co-ordinator, purser, telephone operator and waiter.
  • Most contracts are six months long and can be renewed. Most positions are entry-level, as most cruise lines promote from within based on job performance.
  • Salaries are competitive with those in the marketplace. Wages generally range from $1,000 to $1,700 US per month. Accommodation is provided. -- Information from Cruise Services International www.cruisedreamjob.com
  • Some companies will pay for your transportation to meet the ship, but if you break your contract or are terminated, expenses incurred will be deducted from your pay.
  • You must follow the ship's rules and regulations, such as dressing professionally on and off duty.

    Cruise Ship International sponsors a cruise-ship training course that may help you get your foot in the door. Durham College in Oshawa and Mohawk College in Hamilton offer the 60-hour course (www.cruisetraining.net).

    Students learn about life aboard a ship, including chain of command, nautical terms, ports of call, jobs on board and safety drills. They also learn about customer service skills, problem resolution and time management, reports Joy Lavergne, program co-ordinator at Durham.

    Program instructor Chris Mei worked for Royal Caribbean International for about four years. A radio television broadcast graduate, Mei had never considered a career at sea until he spoke with a friend who was working on a cruise ship as a photographer.

    "It totally took me by surprise just how rewarding it was," Mei says.

    He wants students to walk away from the course knowing what life on a cruise ship is really like. "The biggest shock for students is the amount of hours they'd have to work," Mei says. "Most students don't grasp that they'll be working for a big multinational company and have to represent them both on and off the ship."



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