What’s it like to work on a cruise ship?

Hey, gang!
Anyone have info on what it’s like to sail as a 3rd mate on a cruise ship? How tough a gig is that to land? What’s the money like? What are the hitches like? Thanks for the info!

If you’re American the money is going to suck and the crews expect you to quit before your hitch is over. The guy I know that did it said no one socialized with him for about two months, until they realized he was actually going to stick around.

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I just came off one recently as an o.s but from what I know the pay is way lower then other ships like cargo or tanker etc. Most people that I met only did one contract and never came back .its more work less pay and more stress from all departments most of the mates there just got out of school so it was there first real job.

There is an American flagged cruise ship sailing around Hawaii. The rest of them are foreign flagged and probably don’t pay nearly as well. I imagine there are plenty of pretty people aboard in the crew to hang out with.

I’ve heard some stories from guys that did cruise ships in the old old days and they have some stories that made me realize I was born too late LOL

I’m pretty sure it is still a f@&!-fest on those things.


Join MEBA, they have the only one and it’s MEBA top to bottom. In the past the procedure was to get in contact with the Union official that handles NCL America and they would fly you to Miami for a interview and physical if you pass muster with the NCL crewing people. . My buddies that have been out there said the quality of life was very good and if you are a young man looking for romance…you will easily find it. Pay is garbage but if you are a new 3M you wont know the difference and can you really put a price on time off in Hawaii and having your own stateroom when the 500 young ladies all share a room with 3 others. You can see the contract at the MEBA hall for current pay and I believe they were 120 hitches.

Possibly, but the fest (or feast?) was with the passengers in the past…not that way these days.

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As third do whatever gets you time, but once you move up chase the bucks

I had a brief stint doing the Nieuw Patriot, as a Jr. Eng. at the time I didn’t think i’d care for it, especially the inboard cabins (shared) with no window… nor the coughing, sneezing, people who worked in the galley, the “secret” passage ways for crew to stay out of site of the passengers was amusing, I suppose eventually interaction with some of the passengers would of been nice? … but if i got to choose I’d probably stick with most anything else.

Wow, no one has mentioned the really cool ice cream man uniforms you get to wear. They even give you a cool hat.

Having worked cargo and ferries in the past, I’d say working Cruise Ships is actually a pretty good gig. There’s a lot of naysayers regarding this, although I’d be inclined to look more deeply at their actual “experience” of cruise ships and probably find that they’ve never sailed on one.
This is where I think it’s more about what you’re after out of it than anything else. The pay might not be as good, but you do get to see the world, have a decent social life, gain experience in a much larger Engine Room (in my case) and if you’re married, your spouse can sail with you depending on the line you’re working for.
Definitely one of those instances where I’d say don’t knock it 'til you’ve tried it!

If that was the case with commercial shipping and MSC, I might still be sailing.

That’s something I hear a fair bit to be honest when I say about having my wife sailing with me. Like now, she’s onboard and working in the Shore Excursions department, but otherwise, she can join as “Wife Onboard” and sail with me for no charge, only the flights to and from the ship and she has to be covered by health insurance. Not a bad perk at all if you ask me.

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Sounds like you’re doing it wrong. I was told the proper way was to have a wife at home and a couple “ship wives” aboard.


Hahahaha! Don’t get me wrong, there’s a bunch of guys who have their “salt wives” when they’re at sea, but I’m not one of them! Honestly, have seen people lead completely different lives when they’re onboard.

Young persons gig. Pay sucks but the party and tail is everywhere. Most guys do it until they fall in love or realize the bank doesn’t accept pussy as payments then move to shoreside or bigger contracts on tankers or container ships

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