Transitioning to Cruise Ships

I recently started employment at a company that pushes petrochemical products. I plan to stick around to get my sea time and take an AB class, in about seven or eight months.

Is there anyone here that currently works in the cruise ship industry? I would like to get away from the oil&gas/energy adjacent companies.

As an American your options are perhaps somewhat limited. I’m sure someone on here will correct me if I’m wrong but I don’t think the big cruise lines are very enthusiastic about hiring Americans in general, but especially not on deck for things like AB’s.

To that end, your best bet is to look into the Pride of America (the one Jones Act compliant U/L tonnage cruise ship), which is owned and operated by Norwegian Cruise Lines, or American Cruise Lines (ACL), which operates smaller, “boutique”-style cruise ships. One advantage you might find at ACL is that because their tonnage is smaller then so too are the deck officer licenses that they require, meaning that you could more quickly hawsepipe your way off deck and into a mate (and eventually Captain) role than you would working on something like Pride of America.

How the pay compares I have no idea but I can tell you that most of ACL’s deckhands are college kids and 20-somethings just looking to have a good time, whereas I believe Pride of America’s deck department is staffed predominantly with long-term industry professionals. Make of that what you will. There are pros and cons to both.


Thank you for the reply. Options are definitely slim for Americans in the cruise industry. I will check out ACL definitely. I think I will stay put for a year and then make the decision to switch over.

I plan to do this until I’m 30 and exit. I don’t want to stay doing this for too long, it eventually will get old and I’ll want to have a family.

I appreciate your response @PaddyWest2012. Thank you again!

NCL’s Pride of America is SIU. If you wanted to sail on her, you would have to join the SIU. The Pride of America cruises around Hawaii. Usually not too hard to get a job there as it isn’t considered a top contract (pay).

You could also check out the river cruises such as American Queen Voyages.

Quick question,
You said you plan to stick around until your 30 and get out.

Is there a reason you want Cruise ships in particular?

I only ask because I imagine at least knowing what SIU pays on the Pride- That you’ll make more money over time working as an AB on a Push Boat or even hopping onto a Harbor Tug than you would working on a Cruise Ship.

Thank you for the information.

Will do. Thank you for the information.

Edison Chouest has their first Viking river cruise ship running now. You might be able to get on there too.


As a 30 year old former deckhand what would you offer a prospective employer?

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A heart beat, which most employers are struggling to find right now.


Cruise ships aren’t as dirty or unfulfilling to work on. I will try and just stick with what I currently have for five years. It pays good money, with an AB I’ll be at $300 something a day.

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Thank you for the information, I will look into Edison Chouest.

Yeah, the labor shortage is real. I got hired on pretty quickly, new to the industry and no real experience.

Edison Chouest built and may own the river cruise ship, but it is operated by Viking. They would be the ones crewing it.

Edit: See next post. Contact Chouest if you are interested in this work.

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No sir, the marine crew is Chouest from top to bottom.

I stand corrected.

Cargo that talks…ugh.