“How to leave my country in order to travel on board a metal box floating at the sea? How do I start? From where do I start? What do I need to know? How much can I save? Is there a job waiting for me on a cruise ship? Work on board, how?

If you found yourself having these questions and searching on the whole internet about some answers, first of all, remain calm! Here we solve all your questions about the hiring process and related stuff. It doesn’t matter if you’re from Brazil, United States or Philippines, here we make our content to help everybody, worldwide. #SHIPLIFE means working and living on board a cruise ship, river, ferry or yatch, as we are a really big family that sleeps in one location and wake up in another country. And we love that.


When we talk about working on a cruise ship, the most important thing is: SPEAK ENGLISH.

There’s no company in the world that will hire you without speaking english on at least on intermediary level, which translates that you will need to understand what’s being said and be able to answer without long pauses. Your fluency will basically dictate what kind of job you’ll be able to apply for, as a better position will mostly require to speak fluent english. That means, if you’re able to speak any other language like German, but not english, you won’t be able to apply.

Previous experience is also needed. For example, don’t even try to apply for a photographer position if you only take pictures using your cellphone, and has no experience selling pictures or handle a dSRL. This previous experience requirement is for all positions on board, but there’s also the entry level jobs that won’t require much, just some basic procedures and everything you will need to learn will be taught on board. This is mostly for the Restaurant, Galley, Bar and Housekeeping departments.

You will often find people that graduated on Law School and bigger stuff working as an entry level position on board. This happens because the lack of experience/certifications or lack of positions available on their respective fields.


The hiring process has some costs, that can be refunded by the your company or not. Let’s check them on steps.

The first step is to obtain a passport. If you have one that will expire in less than 1 year, renew it as soon as possible. The passport is your primary identification document, so it’s really important to have a new and updated one. As it is a personal document, no company will refund you for the cost.

All companies will require you to take some vaccines as well. On most countries they’re free for the population, but you might have to pay for them on exceptions. The most important one is the Yellow Fever with an international certificate, which has do be the full dose, not the fraction of it to be valid. Fraction vaccines are common on third world countries like Brazil, Uganda or Venezuela. As again, no company will refund you for them.

And of course, you will have to make or update your resume in order to be able to apply for the cruise companies or agencies. Don’t make the same mistakes as 90% of the candidates, your resume has to be in english and must have other basic requirements on it, like an updated profile photo. In order to help you further more, check out our tutorial and even download some samples.

Agora você têm duas opções: Fazer o processo seletivo por si mesmo ou se candidatar em uma das agências que recrutam candidatos brasileiros. Nada impede que você faça o processo seletivo de todas as companhias ao mesmo tempo em que aplica para todas as agências, porém tenha em mente que algumas companhias não contratam caso você já esteja ligado à uma agência e vice-versa.

As agências não cobram nada pelo processo seletivo (ou pelo menos, não deveriam) e auxiliam um pouco no processo pois cuidam de organizar e traduzir toda a documentação e exames médicos para você, porém o processo costuma ser mais longo pois atuam como intermediários em tudo, revisando emails entre clínicas e companhias antes de repassar as mensagens para os candidatos. Escolha a agência que lhe preferir, ou, como sugerimos à todos os candidatos, candidate-se em todas ao mesmo tempo. Se você procura uma lista completa das agências brasileiras e internacionais, clique aqui para conferir.

Ao mesmo tempo em que você deve procurar saber mais sobre cada companhia, você pode aplicar diretamente para ela pois muitas possuem processos seletivos diretamente pelo site da empresa e com entrevistas via Skype. Para conhecer as companhias, acesse este link para a nossa lista completa das companhias de cruzeiros.

Agora que você já sabe como se dá início ao processo, é a hora de escolher uma profissão. Caso não tenha nada específico em mente, ao fazer as entrevistas com as agências, dependendo do seu nível de inglês e também da disponibilidade de vagas, te indicarão uma – cabe a você aceitar ou não. Nunca aceite trabalhar como garçonete tendo em vista um trabalho como vendedora, pois mudar de profissão dentro das companhias é possível, mas complicado por diversos fatores. Muitas profissões possuem requisitos técnicos ou conhecimentos específicos, e para saber tudo sobre as mesmas e também ficar sabendo em primeira mão quanto que é o salário, confira nossa página especial com todas as profissões do navio.


When you apply thru an agency, you’ll mostly require to create a profile on their website and wait for an email scheduling your first interview, which will be totally in English. Try not to speak other languages unless the interviewer ask you so.

If the interviewer ask you something and you don’t understand, it’s better to say: “I didn’t understood the question, sorry. Can you repeat?”. Than do nothing or just nod. Don’t worry if your anxious, the interviewer knows that and will try to make you as comfortable as possible.

Keep calm and go to a place where no one will bother you and no external sounds will interfere. There’s nothing worse than trying to understand someone while other people speak in the background or pass behind you. Also, check your internet signal, camera and microphone before even starting. Skype offers you to make a sample call for a bot, for instance. During this interview formal clothes are not necessary, so keep it casual.

We set three basic questions and answers that are common on first interviews, check them out:


So, tell me more about yourself so we get to know a little bit about each other:


I’m from Dublin, one of the most beautiful cities in the world. I’ve lived my whole life where but now I think I’m ready to explore the rest of the world.


Talk a little bit about your present job or last experience:


I used to work on a factory producing mechanical parts for cars, but the company was sold to another and I've looking for another opportunity since.


Why would you like to work on a cruise ship?


After searching about the #SHIPLIFE, I found out that most people build a career onboard, they’re very happy with their jobs and that’s what I want to do as well.

After the interview, you’ll receive an email stating if you passed or not. This message is usually sent on the same day or in the next three days. If you pass, the agency will then require you to run and gather documents, receipts, double check the expire date on your passport and take the vaccines if you still don’t have them. That can take some time, that’s why we advise to do that prior the interviews. The next step will be the interview with the company.

If you fail the interview, it’s most likely that they will send you an automated message saying that you can apply again after a period of time. The exact reason is never disclosed, but on most of the cases it’s probably the lack of fluency in english or specific job-related skills. Keep your head up as there’s more than one agency to try and over 50 cruise companies out there to apply without an agency.


If you skipped the agency stuff and applied straight for the companies, this is your first interview, yay!

The interview date varies so much that you can start to freak out right now. You can be called on the same week that you made your application or it can be in the following months. If you depend on an agency, the same isn’t playing around with you as some cruise companies only schedule interviews two or three times a year.

Almost all cruise companies will do the necessary interviews thru Skype, but some will need you to allocate some time for on site interviews or auditions, specially if you’re applying for Entertainment or Technical positions. Also, if you’re applying for a third part company service like Art Gallery, SPA or Photography, they will have their own follow ups.

We really recommend that you dress nicely for this opportunity. For men, a full suit with out without tie is almost mandatory and also a nice haircut is recommended. If you have a mustache or beard, keep it simple and well groomed, but keep in mind also that most cruise companies don’t allow them and will ask you to shave. For women, you’ll also need to dress nice but avoid showing too much skin as most interviewers will look for a more conservative look. Also, keep your make up to a minimum, as even the use of lipstick is banned on most companies as well. For both, if you have any piercings or tattoos, you’ll sadly need to cover them up or take them off.

As we say again, keep calm and try to answer one question at a time. You don’t have to speak a lot, but as well you can’t just say yes or no. Be yourself, besides all the regulations and policies, companies don’t want to hire robots, they like really out-going persons that use a ton of body language. So, with that in mind, also try to do the interview while standing up, as most people shake their legs while sitting down and you have the opportunity to swap that for freedom to move your hands a lot while standing. And that’s really good.

Sometimes after the interview you will require to do a second one specially if you’re applying for a STAFF position. This second interview will be with mostly likely on the same day or week and with the manager of the department that will ask you some job specific questions.

After all that you will finally know if you passed or not. If you don’t pass, keep your head up as there’s other opportunities out there. If you pass, it’s now the time to run in order to do the medical exams, the visa application (if necessary) and wait for further instructions till the company sets you with a joining date.

Your embarkation papers will be needed to do any visa application and also must be carried with you all the time for immigration purposes. If the company is paying for your travel expenses, you’ll receive them on the same week of your boarding date. If they’re not, you can get a free quote with us by filling this form.

Also most cruise companies will also provide you with a free one night stay in a hotel prior embarking on the ship. Take that time to rest or explore the city as you’ll most likely never have the chance again.


This is the part where some people give up on the hiring process because of the costs. The process so far was “without costs” for the candidate, but you’ll need to RUN in order to get these done in time and for sure will expend some money that can be or not refunded on board by the company:

Valid Passport (with at least one year left)

Marlin’s Test (if you’re not from a english speaking country) – 20 dollars
Some explanation and tips, click here.

Vaccines (mandatory) – Some are paid, most of them are offered for free.
Check our list, click here.

Visas (C1/D for United States, Italian Visa for Costa Crociere, Australian Pass and Schengen-Europe)
We also have tutorials, click here.

STCW (Full course AV-I/1-1 to AV-I/1-5) – Varies between countries, from up to 2.000 dollars.
Keep in mind that most of cruise companies offer this certification on board without costs. Check the list here.

Medical Exams (Food handlers have to do extra exams) – Varies between countries, from up to 2.500 dollars.
We have a list of full requirements. Click here.

Airfare Tickets (from your city to the embarkation port) – Check if your company will pay your travel expenses.
If you’re in need of a good airfare deal, fill out this form.

Pediatric First Aid, CPR and AED (exclusively for child care positions) – Around 100 dollars
This course should have at least 40 hours and it can be done preferably with the Red Cross of your country as most of the cruise companies will require that. Some others will accept the certification to be made online at the following website: www.icpri.com


Expect to spend at least 500 dollars during the application process and around 2.000 dollars during the embarkation. Most of the cruise companies will re-pay what you expended on at least the VISAS and Medicals.

All prices are showed in US Dollars, you’ll need to convert them into your own currency for an exact preview value.


What about my embarkation date? If you finish your hiring process, you will board a ship soon or later, but as we know that sometimes people receive their joining dates in no time, and some other candidates take months to receive good news, take this time to keep in mind that it varies depending on your company, position and other factors that nothing that you can do will speed up the process. Don’t quit your job or drop school till you get your final boarding date.

When you finally receive good news, it will also follow up with directions on how to proceed in matters of airfare, hotel and directions to the port. Usually you’ll be asked to travel at least one day prior your date and sleep in a hotel provided by the company in order to join the ship the following day well rested. It is on this message that you’ll also receive a list with what you’ll need to pack, airfare information (only if the company provide it) and documents that you’ll need to bring to the ship, all in the original forms, not duplicates.

After that, you’ll join a ship and hopefully have a great contract. If you make it till the end, your contract will most likely renew itself. Good job!

Need help?
Join our social media!

Shiplife no Facebook