Cruise directors program entertainment and recreation activities for cruise
ship passengers. It's the cruise director's responsibility to make sure all
passengers enjoy themselves.
Cruise directors are often compared to the ringmaster of a circus because
they're in charge of so many events and people. They supervise hundreds of
people and coordinate events ranging from Vegas-style entertainment to shore
"If you look at the staff of a cruise ship as one big family, the cruise
director is definitely the head of the household," says cruise director Tom
Be prepared to work hard. Cruise directors work almost 16 hours a day.
They may also be away from home for more than six months at a time.
While on the ship, cruise directors socialize with the passengers and enjoy
many of the pleasures passengers do, including excellent food, entertainment
and their own stateroom.
Cruise directors should love working with people and possess a positive
demeanor. In stressful situations or even when they're sick, a cruise director
must be friendly to all passengers -- even the annoying ones.
The cruise industry can take a toll on family life. Experts recommend this
as a good career for a free-spirited single person.
"It's almost impossible to get in touch with anyone -- or for anyone to
get in touch with you -- for months at a time," says cruise director David
Don't expect to become a cruise director overnight. It takes a long time
to work your way up to this senior position.
A lot of cruise directors have public relations or entertainment backgrounds.
Some may have been actors or singers, while others may have been tour guides
or directors at resorts.
Many cruise lines do not recruit through agencies or advertise vacant positions,
so finding out about positions available now can be difficult, time-consuming
and expensive. The cruise lines employ workers on a contract basis. You must
be a minimum of 19 years of age.
The vast majority of positions available do not require previous experience
on a cruise ship, unless you are applying for a position directly related
to the operation of the ship. However, you will need some experience in the
given field you choose or at least a willingness to apply other expertise
in the chosen field.
Once on the ship, many of the cruise line companies will allow you to train
for other suitable positions on your days off.
Working on a cruise ship will allow you to meet interesting people from
all walks of life, visit exotic destinations most people can only dream about,
and experience different cultures and climates.
Most of the cruise lines provide accommodation and food. The type of accommodation
depends on the status of your position aboard ship. Uniforms may be supplied.
The rate of pay varies from cruise line to cruise line and depends on the
type of position you fill. Tips and commissions are also usually very good.
Most cruise lines work out of the U.S. or Europe, but sailing routes are
also expanding into Asia and South Africa. All that is required of you to
work aboard, no matter what your nationality, is a valid passport and seaman's
visa, which is easily obtained once you have a job within the industry.
"There are two worlds on a cruise ship -- the crew world and the passenger
world. Only about 30 percent of the crew are allowed in the passenger world,"
says Dentino. If you want to be a cruise director, aim for positions on the
ship where you'll be dealing with people -- positions like youth counselor,
disc jockey, entertainer or sports instructor, or positions on the cruise
staff or purser's staff.
"In my experience, it's not easy to change positions once you've established
yourself," says Van depas. In other words, if you're aiming to become cruise
director, it's best not to start out your cruise ship career as part of the
Try talking to people at the various cruise line offices to find out what
they look for in their cruise directors. Every company is different.
Many cruise directors get their start as entertainers on the ships. If
you have a particular talent, this might be a good approach. You can start
by calling individual cruise lines to find out how they hire their entertainers.
Some cruise lines hire their own; others have companies do it for them.