Still in High School - dream to work on cruiselines, ANY ADVICE WANTED.
Hey everyone! I am so happy there is a board for ex or current employees of cruise lines. I have been on three cruises and I exactly know what I want to do when I get out of high school next year. I want to major in Hospality Management and hopefully work my way up to becoming a Cruise Director one day. ANY ADVICE?
Now a quick reality check.
I have managed international cruise ships for over 30 years. During that time I have never met a Cruise Director who had studied or knew anything about Hospitality Management. They were all hired for their talent, social skills, and entertertainment experience.
I'm not saying that you shouldn't study Hospitality Management. But it is probably not the most direct way to become a Cruise Director on a cruise ship.
You didn't mention your nationality, but since you are posting from Florida, I will guess that you are American. I am as well.
Your passport will be your biggest liability in getting any job with an international cruise line. They really do not like to hire Americans. There have been far too many problems with Americans in the past and they just do not need the aggravation. Your biggest challenge is not in proving how talented you are on stage and in social situations, but in proving that you will not behave like so many of your fellow countrymen if they give you a chance for a job. I have been through this exercise far too many times and it is not easy - nor fun.
Your competition for the Cruise Staff Positions will be Canadians, Aussies, New Zealanders, and Brits. These groups have already proven themselves by speaking better English (as well as other languages), having better social skills, suffering far fewer drug and alcohol problems onboard, and getting along well with other nationalities. These are the areas where so many of our fellow Americans have previously failed.
In preparation for your plans you should work on:
Foreign Language Skills
Public Speaking Skills
Typically you would have to work the lower ranks of Cruise Staff positions for several years - with very low pay - while honing your onboard skills and proving to the company that you are star material. If you survive all that, you have a chance to make an Assistant CD or CD position within 5 to 10 years.
Since many cruise passengers do not really understand what a CD does or is responsible for, you need to be aware of their expectations.
Most expect you to be always around and visible from very early in the morning to very late at night. A good night's sleep is not an option - ever.
Many think you are in charge of the ship and the cruise; they all want to tell you how scratchy the toilet tissue is, how upset they are about not getting that free upgrade, how displeased they are that you scheduled a hurricane during hurricane season, and how much they hate all the cutbacks that you personally are responsible for. The laundry list of complaints is endless - espacially about the entertainment.
Then they expect you to do something about it - NOW.
Today all shipboard entertainment and content is controlled at the corporate level and you are not allowed to change or fix anything.
Developing a very thick skin to deflect all the personal insults you will receive is also on your "To Do List".
Are you still with me?
Cruise Staff on ships can have lots of fun, but make very little money. There is ample shore time and lots of partying.
Today's Cruise Director on a large ship has very little free or personal time. If lucky he/she can go ashore 2 or 3 times a month for a few hours. But with so little free time available, any down time is usually used for a nap or doing laundry.
20 years ago Cruise Directors had quite a good thing going. They skimmed big money off the Bingo Pots and received huge kickback payments from shoreside shops and tour operators.
All that is now gone.
The Cruise Lines wised up and now keep all that money for themselves.
Today's Cruise Director works between 18 and 20 hours daily.
His salary breaks down to about US$7 to $10 per hour.
Bruce . . a major +1
you see the sights, party, etc, etc - and then . . when you don't really care anymore about getting off in the ports . . it's time for that management job.
I'd say the pay scale is a bit off (at least for my line . . . lots of CD's driving nice cars and buying houses . . . )
But, you have to love people and have a excellent "solve the problem" attitude. Depending on the cruise line . . you might have to go and buy that better and softer toilet paper ;-)
Just a thought...
An education in Hospitality Management would be more suitable to working up to Hotel Director. Maybe that's something to consider if you're into hospitality.
I'd agree with Bruce, it's not the path to Cruise Director. The CD on my last trip started as a drummer with one of the ship's bands.
Our family has always cruised alot. My daughter just graduated from University of Florida this past June. Her dream for the past couple of years sincing sailing primiarly Carnival has been to work for Carnival when she graduated. Oddly enough through Twitter, she made some key contacts at Carnival which were fruitful in allowing her to "job shadow" accountants on board this past May. One thing led to another and now she has completed her month long "Accounting College" and is on her first contract on the Ecstasy out of Port Canaveral as Shipboard Accountant.
The previous posters are correct, you will not find many if any Americans at all working on board. Many hired Americans have not worked out in the past, so they are very reluctant to hire them. The pay is very low, but when you consider room and board provided and no "at home" expenses, the bottom line is very similar to if she were to be working at Corporate in Miami. That is her goal one day and they hire many people who have worked on board because by that time they know much about the business operations.
I urge you to follow your dream, and take the advice of the others in terms of what to study for CD. It's true you could start in the Purser area with that background and then work your way to cruise director. It may take a while, but it's worth it if that's what you want.
My advice is go for it. I shoot down any comments who say anything to the effect of "Americans are not hired" I went to school to be a ships officer haven't graduated yet and already have job offers from cruise lines. If your willing to take the low pay their willing to hire you. I would ask the colleges's your looking into if they have had any alumni look into jobs on cruise ships and see what kind of response you get. Hope it work out for you !
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