The friendly staff who greet you at the entrance to the dining room, the barman who pours your favourite tipple, the glamorous dancers who perform in the shows, the chefs who whip up those delicious meals, the tour manager who organises all of the shore excursions, the engineer who ensures everything is running smoothly and the captain and his officers who are in charge of the entire ship – each and every one of these people is an integral part in your cruise holiday. So, what is it really like to work on a cruise ship?

cruise ship staff

There is no denying that cruise workers put in very long hours, however the tales of workers being mistreated and underpaid are far from the truth with most major cruise lines. Whilst crew members do work long hours, they are treated quite well by the cruise line.

There are strict rules in place to ensure staff don’t work too long hours and receive enough rest time. On the vast majority of cruise ships the ship’s officers will do as much as possible to make sure their crew members are as happy as possible with their life on board. Happy crew members are reflected in the cruise passengers.


Most cruise ships offer good quality accommodation for their staff, a crew bar, crew shops, internet cafes and stations, coffee shops, gyms and lots of other areas on board for them to relax during their time off.

Some cruise ships offer language, business and other courses to their staff to give them something to focus on whilst they are not working and an opportunity to better themselves whilst at sea.

Cruise lines organise parties (often themed parties to reflect major holidays of the different nationalities of staff working on board), film nights, sports events and much more. They try to ensure there are plenty of things going on around the ship to allow their staff to fill their down time in an enjoyable way.

Crew members obviously receive free high quality accommodation throughout the duration of their contract with a cruise line. They also enjoy delicious meals on board, cooked by many of the same chefs who serve up the high quality meals that passengers enjoy. Cruise lines also try to provide foods from around the world, to ensure that crew members from all different nationalities are catered for.


Life on a cruise ship as a member of staff is undoubtedly very different to the experience you enjoy as a passenger, but that doesn’t mean it is any less exciting or enjoyable for crew members. For many people it’s a great way to see a slice of the world on their days off work and will allow them to experience many places they might not otherwise have had the chance to explore.

Images courtesy of MSC Cruises

Thanks Emma