15 Incredible Cruise Ship Jobs (Get Paid To Travel!)

Escape the 9-to-5 grind with these amazing cruise ship careers.
Updated Oct. 16, 2023
Woman on a cruise

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Traveling the world while getting paid to do it might sound like a dream, but it can be a reality if you take a job on a cruise ship.

Of course, this type of work isn’t for everyone — the hours can be long, and it may mean a lot of time away from home. But there are plenty of benefits as well.

If working for a cruise line sounds ideal, there are plenty of career opportunities on board. Here are 15 jobs that can help boost your bank account as you travel the world.

Editor's note: All salary figures are from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

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Activities coordinator

Phuong/Adobe aerial view of luxurious sea cruise

Even short cruises are packed with activities for travelers to engage in. Among other things, you'll find games, happy hours and live music.

An activities coordinator is similar to an event planner. In this role, you oversee things like recreation on board and coordinating shore excursion activities. The BLS does not offer wage information for this position.

If you want to start traveling more — and get paid to do it — this can be a good role to consider.


Friends Stock/Adobe woman making card transaction at cafe

It’s no secret that people on cruises like to drink. Many cruise lines offer a food and alcohol package as part of the booking process.

The amount of money you can make working as a bartender on a cruise ship varies greatly, depending on whether guests are expected to tip. But the average salary for bartenders is $29,380 annually.

Casino dealer

Studio Romantic/Adobe male croupier holding poker cards

Working as a dealer at a cruise casino can be an exciting gig. These workers may oversee poker, blackjack, roulette, and more games.

Gambling service workers make $31,290 a year. However, as with tending bar, the actual wages for casino workers on a cruise can vary.

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Jacob Lund/Adobe african american gourmet chef in kitchen

Many cruise ships have cafeterias and restaurants for when guests are in the mood for fine dining.

Cruise ship chefs may be involved in cooking and planning menus for guests and staff. Chefs or head cooks make $56,520 on average annually.


daviles/Adobe yacht crew on ramp at port

Deckhands help maintain the cruise ship. They may be involved in keeping these massive ships running, including cleaning and maintaining equipment, loading cargo, and getting passengers safely on board.

The experience required to work as a deckhand can vary greatly depending on the job description. The BLS does not offer salary information for this position.


luckybusiness/Adobe crowd of people cheering at concert

Cruise lines hire all sorts of entertainers, from dancers to cover bands and magicians.

Working on a cruise ship can be a great way to hone and improve your craft or even take it in a different direction. The average wage for entertainers and performers is $29.67 an hour, which equates to about $61,713 annually.

Entertainment director

fizkes/Adobe african american businessman angry on phone

Cruise ships also need people to manage their entertainers, particularly if the ship has a lot of shows and performances scheduled.

Entertainment directors may be involved in scheduling staff, planning performances, and doing administrative work. The average salary for entertainment/recreation managers is $67,220 annually.

Fitness instructor

Bojan/Adobe female fitness instructor posing in gym

Many cruise ships also offer various fitness classes, including yoga, Zumba, spin, and more.

For qualified instructors, this can be a great way to stay healthy, make money, and travel the world all at the same time. The average fitness instructor makes $45,380 annually.

Hair/makeup artist

Jacob Lund/Adobe stylish barber giving haircut to man

On cruise ships, hair and makeup artists may work in spas, providing services to guests looking to get pampered while on board, and may be needed to work with the ship’s performers.

The BLS groups barbers, hairstyles, and cosmetologists together and states an average of $33,400 annual salary for these workers.

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Hotel director

hedgehog94/Adobe hotel manager showing work to maid

Since a cruise ship is essentially a floating hotel, many employees with experience working in hospitality are needed.

Hotel directors ensure that guests are comfortable and enjoy their experience. They may also be involved in planning and coordinating cruise activities.

The average salary for lodging managers is $61,910 annually.


Nikish H/peopleimages.com/Adobe nurse with a senior patient

Some cruise ships also hire nurses to provide care to passengers and cruise staff.

The amount of money nurses make on average usually depends on the type of nurse. Registered nurses (RNs) make $81,220 annually. Licensed practical nurses (LPNs) make $54,620 a year.

Massage therapist

WavebreakMediaMicro/Adobe woman receiving back massage by professional

Many cruise passengers opt to take advantage of spa services. Massage therapists may work in a spa or travel to guests’ rooms with their equipment to provide massages.

Licensed massage therapists make just under $49,860 annually on average.


Andrey Popov/Adobe security guard stands in position.

Cruise ships also frequently employ security staff to ensure the safety of guests and crew members. These workers may patrol the ship regularly and respond to any issues that come up.

The average salary for security guards is $33,030 annually.


elnariz/Adobe waitress having fun with customer

Eating often and well is a big draw for many cruise passengers. Ships often have several restaurants on board and employ experienced servers to staff them.

Pay for these workers can vary, depending on the cruise line’s tipping policy. The average salary for a server in the U.S. is $29,120 annually.

Sales associate

Prostock-studio/Adobe fashion stylist assists a client in selecting designer clothing.

Part of the beauty of the typical cruise ship is that it’s kind of like a floating mall, filled with gift shops and retail stores galore. Ships often need many sales associates to staff these stores.

Again, depending on the cruise line and the job, the pay for these gigs may vary. However, BLS data puts the average salary for a retail sales worker at $30,750 annually.

That’s not huge money, but perhaps it's enough for students to get ahead financially during breaks between school years.

Bottom line

Maridav/Adobe travel cruise ship couple on sunset

Working as a cruise crew member is certainly not for everyone — lodging for staff can be cramped, days can be long, and you might be away from home for weeks at a time.

But for those looking to tap into a new source of income as they travel, it just may be a win-win situation.

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Author Details

Laura Gesualdi-Gilmore Laura Gesualdi-Gilmore is a seasoned freelance writer who also teaches writing courses at Rutgers University. She's based in Jersey City and enjoys travel, live music and, of course, spending quality time with her pup.

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