Working on a cruise ship: Around the World in 80 Years

Cruise Ship: Sun PrincessWhat if you could actually get PAID to travel the world? And I’m not talking about having a job abroad… I mean, what if somebody actually gave you money every day to go from place to place… MORE than you could spend, so you’d actually be saving up in the process? What if, on top of all that, you also had free food AND free accommodation everywhere you go?

Sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it?

I will never forget the day I ran into Janine… It was an autumn day on the stunning Spanish island Gran Canaria, just off the coast of Africa, and we were having dinner with some other travelers. Her story stood out from the others… Not only had she seen more countries than anybody else… she had also done it for free… and made money in the process!

So what’s this great opportunity? Become a cocaine smuggler? Money launderer? Maybe a professional hitman?

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Nope… the answer is both totally ethical and completely legal, and just about anyone can do it… in fact, it is not only one of the most promising ways to travel the world, but also one of the EASIEST ones.

“So what are you talking about Frank? Stop teasing already and tell me the secret!”

Well, I’ve actually already told you… it was buried in one of my previous articles, I just haven’t talked about it at great length yet. And the best way to understand what I mean is a quote by Zig Ziglar: “You will get all you want in life if you help enough other people get what they want”. I really believe in this quote. In other words… one of the best ways to travel the world is by helping other people to travel the world.

Still too cryptic?

I’m talking about the cruise ship industry, of course! 19 million people escape from their daily routine on an ocean liner every year… and if you help them make their dreams come true, your own dreams will come true as an automatic byproduct.

The surprising fact is… it’s actually very easy to find a job on a cruise ship, because most people don’t want to work on the high seas for a life time. For most, this is seasonal work… they want to have an adventure for a couple of months, and then get back to the main land. That means that turnover in staff is high… so cruise companies are constantly looking for personnel.

But how can you get a hold of one of these dream jobs?

There are two ways, really. You could either get hired by the cruise line directly, or you could go through an agency… there are a ton of companies out there whose business is recruiting staff for the ocean liners. If you’re serious about this idea, I recommend you do both… I did.

I looked up all the cruise lines, AND all the cruise job agencies in online directory (Google is your friend, and so is Wikipedia). Next, I made a list of the biggest ones, because I didn’t want to be stuck cruising back and forth between two islands… I wanted to travel wide and far!

And third, I eliminated all cruise lines that went to cold countries. I know some people dream of a cruise to Alaska or the Antarctica, so that’s just my personal preference. There are stunning landscapes to be explored even in the Scandinavian fjords, whereas I have acquired more of a taste for the tropics… But that’s all up to you.

Next, pick a profession! What would you like to do on board of the ship? Do you want to be an entertainer, a magician, a dancer, or a singer? Do you want to be a cruise director, tour guide, casino croupier or librarian?

All of those jobs are great options… they all pay pretty well and leave you plenty of free time to explore every harbor your ship anchors for the night. Jobs like chamber maid, waiter, cook and engineer are a different matter, however… they tend to be extremely tough, with 13 hours of work per day, for 30 days a month.

The next thing to consider is what flag you’d like to sail under. The good news is that all ships sail, by definition, out on the open seas, and that means you won’t need any special work visa… Neptune is a lot more forgiving than the American TSA! It also means that in many cases, your income will be tax-free… check with your attorney for details.

Finally, rumor has it that American cruise lines often offer better hours and higher compensations than Brazilian ones… so that’s something to keep in mind as well. The two largest cruise lines in the world are Princess Cruises and Royal Caribbean (I worked for the former for a while)… those two companies always one-up each other, as each year one of them will build “the biggest cruise ship in the world”, just to watch the other one build an even bigger one the year after.

Don’t expect to get hired over night… and don’t just apply to one cruise line. In my case, I wanted to work as a pianist on board, so I recorded a demo and sent it to about fifty different agencies and companies. Within a few weeks, I received the first couple of offers, and within a couple of months, I received the first offer I could not refuse.

I ended up taking a plane to San Francisco, where I was to board the Sun Princess as atrium pianist and see ALL the great islands of the Pacific Ocean. The ship took me to Hawaii, Bora Bora, Tahiti, French Polynesia, the Cook Islands, Fiji, Samoa, New Zealand, Australia and many other (expensive, may I add) tropical paradise islands… for free!

Where would you have gone? Leave me a comment and tell me which cruise ship you would board and what your destination would be!

I sometimes say how traveling is not all beauty and grace, and there are hard times, for sure… There are visa hassles and insurance providers that don’t pay up, and just in general life on the road isn’t ALWAYS a dream. Well, when it comes to life on a cruise ship, it really seems like nothing but a dream come true.

Make it happen… I look forward to your comments!

~ Frank Florida ~


Frank Florida

Frank Florida é professor de idiomas desde 1994 e fala oito línguas. Viajando o mundo por 11 anos, ele visitou umas 300 cidades em mais de 50 países. Ele se graduou da High School nos EUA, se formou em didática na Austrália e é criador do site Fórmula Fluente.

19 comentários

  • 28/02/13  
    João B. L. Ghizoni diz: 1

    Hi, Frank!

    What a great text! Every time you write, I feel like walking out on whatever I’m doing and travel the world! But just then reason comes into place and I set foot on ground again! I’m not so young anymore to take up such a challenge — though I feel completely strong and healthy to do so. I’m supposed to retire next year. That’s when I intend to put in practice some of your wonderful suggestions here!

    All the very best to you! And thanks again for your wonderful posts!

    • 01/03/13  
      Frank Florida diz:

      Hey João, wow that sounds great – Just a year to go and you’ll really be free! I’d wait too if I was in your shoes now. Keep us posted when you retire and let us know where the wind takes you! :)

      Cheers, and always the best!
      ~ Frank Florida ~

  • 28/02/13  
    Nathalia diz: 2

    Hello Frank,

    I also did work for the Royal Caribbean, but I wasn’t lucky as you. I went to the smallest ship and ended up doing the 4/3 days cruises and only had the opportunity to get to know a little bit of Florida and Bahamas. Anyway, I still believe it’s a good way to see the world. But I do have to say that most of the positions available are those hard ones, is quite difficult to have the lucky you had and get a good position at first. Because that most Brazilians sign off. Your tip was great, but I do think you should highlight also the difficulties to work onboard, most brazilians have no real knowledge about how hard it’s and give up within a month.

    • 01/03/13  
      Leandro diz:

      I totally agree!

    • 02/03/13  
      Frank Florida diz:

      Hey Nathalia, sorry to hear you had a tough time aboard! You’re right, that’s a common experience… that’s why I mentioned that you need to choose your job on board very carefully. Luck, however, has very little to do with it. It’s important to apply for a specific position. It will really make the difference between a couple of months of slave labor on the one hand, and a couple of months in paradise on the other.

      ~ Frank ~

  • 28/02/13  
    aAugsuto Monteiro diz: 3

    Very nice tip. i really envy your life. i hope someday get the guts to do it too!

    Take Care!

    • 02/03/13  
      Frank Florida diz:

      Thanks Augusto! Just take the plunge… What’s the worst that could happen? ;)

      And if you do, let me know!

      Always the best,

      ~ Frank Florida ~

  • 28/02/13  
    William Pinheiro diz: 4

    Hi Frank… It’s awesome!!!

    It’s a really dream.

    I want to travel around the world too. It’s a dream. Make money travelling is much better.

    I’m sigle, and have no children, I want to know many countrys in europe and asia, make many friends and have a great adventure.

    Your exemple is motivating.

    Thanks for sharing your experiences.

    See you…

    (I’m sigle, and have no children – this sentence is correct?)

    • 02/03/13  
      Frank Florida diz:

      Hey William, you’re welcome! Almost correct, the word is “single”, with an “N”. Just go for it… now is the time, when you’re unattached. It’s not impossible to travel with a family or with children, but it certainly gets a lot harder. Thanks for your comment! :)


      ~ Frank Florida ~

  • 01/03/13  
    Rildo. diz: 5

    Well, many people said that is very hard and i have doubts, of course. But, i passed in the interview and i’m still thinking if i should. I’m single, no children, so it’s a good thing to know the world for free, but, in another hand, it’s a lot work and have some situations with stress full… ;)

    • 03/03/13  
      Frank Florida diz:

      Hey Rildo, congratulations on passing the interview! Yeah, sounds like now is the perfect time to go if you really want to do it… now you’re free. You know, there is a sentence that always helps me in big decisions like that… I’d rather regret doing something, than regret not doing something. Let us know how you like it if you end up going… Only one way to find out. ;)

      ~ Frank Florida ~

  • 01/03/13  
    Marcos Bernardino diz: 6

    O “Sounds too good to be true…” sem o “it” (“It sounds”), pode ser usado em que situações? No caso é um uso informal? Está “incorreto”? Vão achar que eu falo bem ou mal, se eu disser sem o “it”? Ou há na gramática algo que eu perdi, e há frases sem o pronome?

  • 03/03/13  
    Bia diz: 7

    Frank, você pode me dar 2 características físicas da Janine? Eu acho que a conheço. rs

    • 03/03/13  
      Frank Florida diz:

      Haha… Na verdade mudei o nome para proteger os inocentes rs ;)

  • 03/03/13  
    Tom diz: 8

    Thanks for the post! :) What an amazing experience! All the very best for you. Cheers!

    • 05/03/13  
      Frank Florida diz:

      You’re welcome Tom, and thanks! :)
      ~ Frank ~

  • 05/03/13  
    Jefersonsmart diz: 9

    Wow! You have such a bad ass lifestyle. My biggest dream is just like yours and I wish someday I will live in the USA for at least 1 year round. I’ve already got my passport and Visa card to go and hit the road.

  • 13/03/13  
    Stan diz: 10

    tks a lot…