I actually have been hired for a seasonal youth counselor on NCLA (which sails in Hawaii). I went to a job fair in a city nearby where I live (about 2 1/2 hours away. They were doing on the spot interviews, and I was given a conditional offer of employment that day. However, the hiring process does involve a lot of steps and is somewhat lengthy. Right now I'm on an active hold until they need someone to fill the youth counselor position.
I only can speak for the hours at NCLA- but from what I have learned through research is that the hours are split into three shifts. 9-12, 2-5 and 7-10. However on days that the ship is in port NCLA does not hold the youth program during the day (only in the evening 7-10) however parents can pay for private child care if they wish. So it seems to me that you would get some time off to explore the islands while the ship is in port - if you have not agreed to do the private childcare- or if there is not a meeting that you have to attend.
Regarding pay- the salary that NCLA was offering was 7.00 per hour for this position. However, because the min wage has gone up- I'm not sure how that salary will be affected. I would assume that it would have to at least increase to the current min wage which is 7.25. You do get paid for overtime at NCLA because they are an American Flagged ship and have to follow US labor regulations (at least this is what we were told at the job fair).
The way that people feel about their experience working on a cruise ship varies greatly. I have joined a facebook group for NCLA past and present staff, and one for NCL past and present staff. Those are good places to start to get a feel of what people's experiences were on board. Other ships might also have such groups on facebook or other networking sites too.
There is also a blog that I read by James Byrd...he wrote about his experience for 2 years out of the 3 he has work with NCLA. I believe that he might have started as a Jr. Waiter and is now a Jr. Receptionist (but don't quote me on it). You can check out his blog at http://web.mac.com/cruisingjames/Site/Home.html
I can say that most people have told me that it is what you make it. It can be very hard at times, but you can make a lot of new friends. I have heard that the is not a lot of privacy (if any) because of course you are sharing a room with 1-3 other people...and the space is tiny. But if nothing else it will be an experience and something different!
If you have any other questions feel free to e mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org
, or facebook me Shareeah Woods (or google me and my facebook page will come up). Hope this has been helpful to you and wishing you the best!
ps- I am also have my degrees in education- and have worked my entire career (9 years ) with children. This really does help when looking to get into working on a cruise ship- because it seems with the youth positions they are looking for individuals that have a degree and experience in this field. Make sure when you submit your resume- you tailor your experience to the position you are wanting. If you can make a direct contact- not just apply or send your resume via e mail that's even better!