5 Highest-Paying Jobs on Cruise Ships (2023)

5 Cruise Ship Jobs Paying Top Dollar

  • Executive Chef
  • Cruise Director
  • Chief Purser
  • Hotel Director
  • Human Resources Manager

Generally, the highest-paying jobs on cruise ships are held by officers, department heads, and those working on commission. However, many other variables affect earning potential, such as cruise line, ship size, clientele, tips awarded, and prior job experience.

Contracts are another factor. Onboard positions are short-term, based on contractual agreements. For new employees, job length ranges from three months to one year. Thankfully, contracts are renewable, granting longer employment terms to those who serve with excellence.

Additionally, crew members have a low cost of living since their meals and cabins are free. Some cruise lines also cover laundry expenses and uniforms. These benefits translate into major cost-savings. Still, some jobs are especially lucrative. Here are five that pay top dollar.

Related resource:Top 15 Hospitality Management Bachelor’s Degree Online Programs

1. Executive Chef

This position requires both culinary and managerial expertise. An executive chef oversees all menu planning, meal preparation, and galley staff. Both the hot and cold galleys are under the chef’s skillful leadership. The hot galley creates mouthwatering cooked meals, while the cold galley offers scrumptious buffet foods and pastries.

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Also on the chef’s plate is supervising meal service in a ship’s restaurants, formal dining rooms, and buffets. Of vital importance is safe food handling. Accordingly, the executive chef ensures that all galley staff is thoroughly trained in sanitation practices. Staying within the department budget can be tough. To avoid overspending, the chef collaborates with the food and beverage manager.

Typically, executive chefs work six days a week on a shift schedule. Time off can be spent either shipboard or on land during port stays.

To qualify for this profession, one must be a culinary school graduate with at least five years of upscale restaurant experience. As of August 2019, executive chefs earn between $4,800 and $7,800 monthly. Here, Cruise Industry News reveals an executive chef’s recipe for stellar food service.

2. Cruise Director

Charismatic and engaging, a cruise director arranges and orchestrates social events, such as musical performances, comedy shows, guest parties, and youth activities. As “the friendly face of a passenger ship,” a cruise director is among the first to greet embarking guests. As a gracious Master of Ceremonies, they preside over Welcome Aboard Shows and Captain’s Cocktail Parties.

To produce spectacular events, the cruise director researches and books top performers, such as bandmasters, musicians, actors, dancers, and choreographers. They also rehearse with cast members. In preparing for shows, the cruise director consults with stage managers and technical crews, ensuring ideal acoustics, lighting, and set props.

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While entertaining is certainly fun, the job has a serious side, too. Office work includes number crunching, tracking the entertainment budget and bills.

Currently, the cruise director salary ranges from $5,800 to $7,500 per month. The highest-paying cruise jobs require at least five years in the recreation or entertainment industry, preferably shipboard. Additionally, employers favor applicants with a bachelor’s degree in hospitality.

3. Chief Purser

As head of a ship’s accounting department, this senior officer handles all financial transactions concerning guests. For example, when passengers allocate tips, the chief purser ensures they’re awarded to intended departments and crews. When voyages end, the chief purser updates all guest accounts.

Onboard employees receive their pay from the chief purser, either in cash or via direct deposit to their bank accounts. Likewise paid are concessionaires, such as shops and kiosks. However, their earnings are commission-based. The chief purser also receives and counts cash delivered to a vessel by armored car.

This supervisory role includes managing crew pursers, a ship’s money collectors. Crew pursers gather money from Internet Cafés and vending machines, restocking them as needed. The Purser’s Office resides in a ship’s main lobby. From this central location, the office coordinates guest boarding and departure, including customs clearance.

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This job requires a background in accounting and five years of managerial experience in the hospitality field. The monthly salary averages $4,200, typically with a one-year contract. Here, Chron explains the hiring process.

4. Hotel Director

Also called a hotel manager, this officer is largely responsible for guest satisfaction. Several departments are under their wing, namely Food Service, Entertainment, Housekeeping, Concessions, and the Purser’s Office. In this capacity, the director tracks departmental inventories, revenues, and budgets.

When service issues arise, the hotel director assists in resolving them. For instance, working with the Purser’s Office, they help to reconcile guest billing and payment problems. Since job happiness affects crew performance, the hotel director strives to maintain pleasant working conditions.

To uphold high performance standards, the hotel director ensures that all service staff is well-qualified. The Concessions Department plays a key role. This division, run by third-party vendors, hires and trains ship employees in the spas, casino, boutiques, gift shops, and photography departments.

Currently, the average monthly salary for a hotel manager is $5,540. The educational requirement is a bachelor’s degree in hospitality. To qualify for the highest-paying cruise jobs, applicants need a minimum of three years at a full-service resort, hotel, or cruise ship, in a supervisory context.

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5. Human Resources Manager

Excluding concession workers, at the helm of shipboard staffing is the human resources (HR) manager. Although similar to a land-based corporate position, the cruise setting poses unique challenges. Crew members are multinational, working and living in limited space. Many ships average 2,000 employees. With such sizeable crews, maintaining harmony and quality service requires strategic planning.

To this end, the best HR managers provide extensive on-boarding, equipping new hires with the skills needed to perform their particular duties. If employee conflicts arise, the HR manager helps to smooth ruffled feathers. Additionally, they design programs for staff training and development, performance evaluation, promotions, compensation, and compliance with company and berthing policies.

To bolster staff morale, the HR manager conducts regular social events. Wellness programs diffuse tension and stress. Working with the hotel director, they affirm crew value by ensuring well-appointed cabins, fitness centers, crew decks, and recreation rooms. To prepare crew members for leadership roles, the HR manager provides customized coaching.

Currently, shipboard HR managers earn between $5,000 and $6,500 monthly. For the highest-paying cruise employment, one needs a bachelor’s degree in human resources or business administration, along with at least three years in HR management.

Best Prosperity

For those with a degree in hospitality, among the highest-paying cruise ship jobs are executive chef, cruise director, chief purser, hotel director, and human resources manager. While the positions of captain and safety officer pay more, they require graduation from an accredited maritime training institution.

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This field is ideal if you’re a hard-working, service-oriented team player. Crew members work between 45 and 60 hours per week, depending on their responsibilities. Also, you must be comfortable with compact quarters and time away from family and friends. However, in any of the above jobs, you’ll be well-compensated while working in a breathtaking ocean setting.

So, if you feel called to cruise employment, earn your degree and log a few years of related job experience. Then, cruise lines will eagerly hire you, welcoming you aboard!


What is the highest paying cruise ship job? ›

It comes as no surprise that the ship's captain has the biggest salary from working on a cruise ship. The master of the vessel has a huge responsibility for ship safety for crew and passengers along with navigation. The captain can earn almost $100,000 manually depending on the cruise line and experience.

What are 3 5 jobs that are found in the cruise industry? ›

Commonly Available Positions on Cruise Ships:
  • Deck Crew.
  • Cruise Directors.
  • Disc Jockeys.
  • Expedition Leaders.
  • Hosts and Hostesses.
  • Naturalists.
  • Shore Excursion Managers.
  • Water Sports Instructors.

Do cruise ship jobs pay well? ›

As of Dec 29, 2022, the average annual pay for a Cruise Ship Worker in the United States is $48,916 a year.

How much do cruise ship workers get paid? ›

The 35 current and former cruise-ship employees who spoke with Business Insider had average monthly earnings of about $3,233 and median monthly earnings of about $2,600.

What is the hardest job on a cruise ship? ›

While the difficulty of the utility galley job exceeds all others on a cruise ship, waiters and room stewards, who clean passenger cabins, also have some of the most difficult jobs, Guilford said.

Which cruise ship is best to work for? ›

The 5 Best Cruise Lines To Work For
  1. Royal Caribbean. As one of the biggest cruise lines in the industry, Royal Caribbean offers a great package to those seeking to join their team. ...
  2. Cunard. ...
  3. MSC Cruises. ...
  4. Disney Cruise Line. ...
  5. AIDA Cruises.
Dec 2, 2022

What is the lowest position on a cruise ship? ›

At the bottom are crew members, who are generally responsible for serving guests. They include servers, bartenders, and cleaning staff.

Is cruise ship jobs permanent? ›

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.

How many hours do cruise staff work daily? ›

Your daily work schedule while onboard will depend on your particular position, but you can expect to work seven days a week and anywhere between 10-13 hours per day.

How much do Royal Caribbean staff get paid? ›

Average Royal Caribbean group Crew Member hourly pay in the United States is approximately $18.43, which is 46% above the national average. Salary information comes from 9 data points collected directly from employees, users, and past and present job advertisements on Indeed in the past 36 months.

Can you live and work on a cruise? ›

While working onboard, you can enjoy the following living essentials provided by the company: Furnished living accommodations. Crew-specific cafeterias (also known as the Crew Mess) with a variety of menu items from around the world. Laundry facilities and services.

How much do cruise ship waiters make? ›

Average Carnival Cruise Line Server monthly pay in the United States is approximately $2,098, which is 27% below the national average.

How much do Carnival cruise employees get paid? ›

Carnival Cruise Line pays an average salary of $44,168 per year or $21.23 per hour. Carnival Cruise Line pays the lowest earners $23,000 a year, while the top 10 percent are paid over $81,000. Salaries vary by department as well. Workers in the engineering department can earn an average of $94,987 per year.

How much do housekeepers make on Royal Caribbean? ›

Average Royal Caribbean group Housekeeper monthly pay in the United States is approximately $6,000, which is 166% above the national average.

How much do cruise workers make a week? ›

As of Dec 29, 2022, the average weekly pay for a Cruise Ship Worker in the United States is $940 a week.

What are 5 Strange jobs onboard a cruise ship? ›

5 Unusual Job Positions on Cruise Ship
  • Job positon: Lawnkeeper Cruise Line: Celebrity Cruises.
  • Job Position: Ice captain Cruise Line: Royal Caribbean International.
  • Job Position: Dog Butler Cruise Line: Cunard Line.
  • Job Position: Brewmaster Cruise Line: AIDA.
  • Job Position: High Diver Cruise Line: Royal Caribbean.
Nov 17, 2016

Why cruise ship workers make the best employees? ›

They know that the more skills they learn and apply, the better they will do their job. That is why most cruise lines employ permanent trainers and human resource managers on their ships and spend money to continually develop training programs for all employees on board.

How many hours a week do you work on a cruise ship? ›

Staff members often expect to work around 12 hours a day, seven days a week. Some employees may work early in the morning, like those who prepare food, while others work late into the night, like bartenders and entertainers. Your work schedule might depend on the specific cruise line and your position.

Is it hard to get job in cruise ship? ›

It's always been hard to get a job on a cruise ship. The global pause in cruising made it so much harder for a while, as there were thousands of experienced cruise ship workers that became out of work. However, some of those people took jobs in other areas and decided that they actually quite liked working on land.

What qualifications do I need to work on a cruise? ›

There are no formal requirements, but experience of working in a hotel, restaurant or bar can be useful. GCSEs in English and maths will be helpful. Customer service is an important part of the role, so most cruise liners will expect you to have worked in a customer service job before.

Which side of cruise ship is best? ›

If you'd rather see the sunrise while sailing south or east, staying on the port side is your ideal choice as well. Choose the starboard side for the opposite situation: sunsets are visible on southbound and eastbound sailings while sunrises are visible on northbound and westbound cruises.

Is it better to be higher on a cruise ship? ›

The higher the deck, the better and, often, more panoramic the view. Cabins on top decks aren't always the best on the ship, but many suites and specialty cabin categories are typically located on upper decks.

Why do cruise ships skip floor 13? ›

Why do Cruise Ships Not Have a Deck 13? Many ships do not have a deck 13 due to superstition surrounding the number. These ships will simply skip from deck 12 straight to 14.

What is the age limit for cruise ships? ›

No Guest younger than the age twenty-one (21) will be assigned to a stateroom unless accompanied in the same stateroom by an adult twenty-one (21) years old or older. A guest's age is established upon the first date of sailing.

What is the maximum age limit to work on a cruise ship? ›

Although there isn't a maximum age to work on cruise ships, the unfortunate truth is that cruise lines don't hire many applicants over the age of 35 years old. That said, there are crewmembers over the age of 35. Many are in management positions after making cruise ship life a career.

What is the maximum age to get job on cruise ship? ›

Good news for the young at heart, there is no maximum age to work on cruise ships. Unfortunately, the truth is that there are some jobs on board for which applicants over the age of 35 would not be considered. The main concern for the employer is that the job-seeker is fit, both physically and medically.

Is food free for cruise employees? ›

Do cruise ship employees get free food? Yes, crew members receive free food for working onboard a ship, along with a cabin to sleep in (more on that later). Similar to the guests, crew members have their own buffet style restaurant to get their meals from throughout the day.

Do cruise ship employees get their own room? ›

All officers have their own cabins while the rest of the crew used to share a cabin (two per room). It seems like as of now, all crew members will have a single cabin. Cabins are, I would say, ok … There are three cabinets, bed, sofa, working desk and chair, tv, porthole, bathroom including shower cabin,” they said.

What do cruise ship workers do in their free time? ›

Apart from sleeping, eating or making a phone call home [link to phones and internet], crew can use the crew internet cafe, crew gym, crew pool (select ships), crew bar or crew recreation area. Additionally, special events are routinely scheduled for crew to enjoy their time onboard.

Does Carnival cruise pay well? ›

The average Carnival Cruise Line salary ranges from approximately $15,000 per year for Server to $140,000 per year for Senior Manager. The average Carnival Cruise Line monthly salary ranges from approximately $1,300 per month for Casino Dealer to $8,600 per month for Operations Manager.

How much do cruise ship housekeepers make? ›

Average American Cruise Lines Housekeeper weekly pay in the United States is approximately $827, which is 47% above the national average.

How much is overtime on a cruise ship? ›

The laws on overtime pay apply as well to US-registered vessels. The law requires time and a half for any hours over 40 worked during the week -- a very common requirement in a cruise ship job.

Where do people who work on cruise ships live? ›

Staffers typically live with a roommate in tiny cabins that have bunk beds and small closets. We usually eat at our own buffet and hang out after work at the crew bar.

Can married couples work on cruise ships together? ›

There are some cruise ship jobs that are more conducive for couples applying together such as jobs that can be done as a team. Musicians in a duo or band are one example, but Shopping Guides, Art Auctioneers, and Guest Lecturers are some of the other jobs that can be hired as a team.

Where do cruise workers sleep? ›

Unlike guest staterooms, crew cabins are pretty small and usually located on deck 0, or below the sea level – deck A and B. Most of the crew cabins don't have portholes (windows) – this luxury is reserved for some staff and officers – so for first-time crew members this might be a little confusing.

How much do you tip a 7 day cruise waiter? ›

Most cruise lines suggest tipping $10 to $12 per day per passenger (not per couple), regardless of age. For a seven-day cruise, this means each cruiser should budget at least $70 for gratuities, or $140 per cabin for two people.

Do cruise ships have jail cells? ›

Are there jails on cruise ships? Yes, cruise ships have brigs, which is the nautical term for a jail on a vessel, including a cruise ship. The term comes from the word "brigantine," which is a type of two-masted sailing ship formerly used to house criminals.

Can you live on a cruise ship year round? ›

Sure, you could book a room on a round-the-world sailing, but even then, you're not really living on a cruise ship. One residential cruising company, however, is working toward making a permanent seafaring life a viable option.

What is the minimum salary in cruise? ›

The average CRUISE LINE monthly salary ranges from approximately ₹ 60,000 per month for Assistant Cook to ₹ 75,000 per month for Security Officer. Salary information comes from 16 data points collected directly from employees, users, and past and present job advertisements on Indeed in the past 36 months.

How much does a bartender make on a cruise ship? ›

As of Dec 29, 2022, the average annual pay for a Cruise Ship Bartender in the United States is $43,539 a year. Just in case you need a simple salary calculator, that works out to be approximately $20.93 an hour. This is the equivalent of $837/week or $3,628/month.

Do Royal Caribbean employees get free cruises? ›

Employee Benefits at Royal Caribbean Group

Some additional benefits include 12 weeks of paid parental leave, employee discounts on cruises, and a complimentary seven-day cruise for employees and a guest after their first year of work.

Who gets paid the most on a cruise ship? ›

It comes as no surprise that the ship's captain has the biggest salary from working on a cruise ship. The master of the vessel has a huge responsibility for ship safety for crew and passengers along with navigation. The captain can earn almost $100,000 manually depending on the cruise line and experience.

What hotel pays housekeepers the most? ›

Top companies for Hotel Housekeepers in United States
  • IHG Hotels & Resorts. 4.1 $30.40per hour. 3,649 reviews32 salaries reported.
  • The Williamsburg Hotel. 2.5 $21.19per hour. ...
  • McMenamins. 3.3 $20.69per hour. ...
  • Marriott Vacations Worldwide. 4.1 $18.30per hour. ...
  • Crystal Springs Resort. 3.5 $16.40per hour. ...
  • Show more companies.

How much does a laundry attendant make on a cruise ship? ›

$15. The estimated total pay for a Laundry Attendant at Princess Cruise Lines is $15 per hour.

Is working on a cruise worth it? ›

Cruise ship crew life can be intense: long hours, no days off for months, lots of rules, demanding guests, small living quarters and little to no privacy. But working on ships also allows you to travel to places some only dream of while making some amazing connections with fellow seafarers from all over the world.

Do cruises pay well? ›

The majority of positions are based on an hourly wage and most employment opportunities on a cruise ship earn $1,200-$1,500 a month. There are though, a large number of positions that can make as much as $2,500 a month equating to $13 an hour.

Do cruise workers get their tips? ›

The Carnival website states: “100 per cent of your gratuities are distributed to the crew who you interact with, such as your stateroom attendants, dining, bar and culinary services staff, as well as others who work behind the scenes to enhance your overall cruise experience.”

What is the salary on Royal Caribbean cruise ship? ›

The average Royal Caribbean group salary ranges from approximately $25,708 per year for Cruise Agent to $167,973 per year for Assistant Vice President. Average Royal Caribbean group hourly pay ranges from approximately $7.25 per hour for Runner to $70.00 per hour for Product Owner.

How much does a cruise captain make per year? ›

While there's no explicit salary data for a cruise ship captain, the average annual salary for a captain is $92,125 per year . These salaries can vary for several reasons, such as a captain's work experience, their certifications, licensure, employer and other accreditations.

How many hours do cruise ship workers work? ›

Your daily work schedule while onboard will depend on your particular position, but you can expect to work seven days a week and anywhere between 10-13 hours per day.

Who earns more pilot or ship captain? ›

Pilots, as Captains, make less unless they are senior doing international routes. However, pilots do not work nowheres near the amount of hours so, proportionately, they would earn more. Was this worth your time? This helps us sort answers on the page.

How much do cruise ship deckhands make? ›

Salaries typically range from $47,000 to $57,000.

How many days does a cruise ship captain work? ›

The main thing is that cruise ship captains work long, tiring hours. They work 10 weeks in a row, then have 10 weeks off. However, in those 10 weeks of work, they are required to be on-call 24/7 and function with as little as five hours of sleep, depending on how smoothly things go.


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