How does cruise ship recruitment really work?

I am often asked from cruise ship applicants for the reasons why they were unsuccessful in their cruise ship application. It is a fair question too and that is why I am attempting to explain some of the mysteries surrounding cruise ship recruitment here.

The only way to really answer this question is to break it down into smaller questions.

1. What are the requirements of the cruise ship companies?

2. How do I know what positions are available?

3. How does the agency assess my application?

4. Why was my application rejected after the interview?

5. One final thought….

1. What are the requirements of Cruise lines?

Firstly, let me set the scenario. Almost all Cruise ship companies recruit globally and they partner with recruitment companies around the world to assist them in this process. Some of their requirements are set in stone and they are:

· The applicant must be over the age of 21 (there are some exceptions for Dancers, entertainers and a couple of other positions but they are rare)

· The applicant must be able to demonstrate 2 years recent prior experience in the position they are applying for. Generally this means that if you are currently working as a carpenter then applying for a waiter position is unlikely to be successful for you.

· The applicant must be able to speak English to a level whereby they can understand direction, communicate and answer questions with ease. This is made somewhat more challenging by the diversity of the crew with English being spoken with accents ranging from Australian, Caribbean, and Indian etc. 

Other requirements are what could be called preferences. These include:

· Additional language skills for pursers (Spanish, French, German, Italian, Japanese and Mandarin are the favourites).

· Five star International hotel work experience.

· Previous ship board experience will often give you priority over other applications.

In most cases the position offered are “Entry Level” even if you have 10 years experience in a luxury hotel. The exceptions to these rules would include the following:

· Chefs (they are placed according to their skill level and experience)

· Management. This would include F&B managers, Front desk managers Inventory managers etc. however with the exception of chefs these positions come up quite rarely.

Just to confuse matters all of the above rules and preferences are “guidelines” which you should use to assess your own application before sending it off to a recruiter near you. However due to the very nature of recruiting where each application is individual there are exceptions to the above rules!!!

2. How do I know what positions are available?

Most cruise line positions are available all year round, however from time to time Cruise lines will send an email to their global network of agencies letting them know what positions they would like to recruit. This information can come through as little as a few weeks before the new employees are required or up to six months prior. Almost all agencies will advertise these positions within local media. Depending on the country, this might be internet job boards, newspapers and trade magazines or on their own website.

Zest recruitment advertises on our own website as well as through seek and in addition we will go through the facebook page and send out an email to see if anyone knows a friend or family member that may also like to take up the opportunities that are available.

3. How does the agency assess my application?

When an agency receives an application it looks for certain things:

· What is the position that has been applied for?

· Has the resume included contact details?

· Is the resume easy to read with the correct use of grammar and words spelt correctly.

If the application is missing any one of the above points it will be rejected. It is not possible to assess an application if you do not know what the position being applied for actually is. In addition, due to the volume of applications received, if the resume is difficult to read or does not include contact details it will also be rejected in favour of applicants who have put more effort into their paperwork. First impressions do count!!

Presuming that the application is clear then the agency will look for:

· Experience within the position that has been applied for.

· The applicant meets the minimum age requirements.

· The applicant demonstrates that they have the language ability to meet the minimum requirement (this is verified at the interview)

That is all the agency is looking for at this stage and once the above has been determined the applicants will be invited to be interviewed.

Quite simple really!! For more information go to

4. Why was my application rejected after the interview?

This is the important stuff.

At the interview applicants are assessed on the following criteria:

· Personal presentation. I have witnessed several applicants who have been rejected at interview because they did not dress in a manner considered appropriate.

· Personality. 80% of the requirements for front of house positions (with Managers being the exception) are about the applicant’s personality. Cruise lines are looking for happy, lively positive and outgoing staff to look after their guests.

· Ability to answer the interview questions correctly, confidently and with good language skills.

5.  One final thought….

Cruise lines recruit globally which can sometimes mean that you are assessed as being suitable by the agency but the cruise line may still reject your application because they have better qualified applicants from other countries. This is rare but does sometimes happen.

I hope that answers the question on how cruise ship recruitment works.