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Once-in-a-lifetime cruise industry jobs are setting sail once again

Lorna Wagner, Careers & Outreach Programme Manager, Maritime UK
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The cruise industry is near the end of the road back to normal, with safe sailings across Caribbean currents and Mediterranean waves beginning after a year of still waters.

And what’s great news for holidaymakers planning their next adventure, is also great news for those looking to embark on a career that will introduce them to the world.

Whilst cruise ships are all different shapes and sizes, offering different facilities and styles, for those who’ve yet to cross the gangway on to a cruise, being on board can be like being in a floating city. You can go to the shops, enjoy an evening out, or watch a film. Or check in with a carer, doctor or nurse.

In terms of careers, that’s retail, entertainment, medical care – just a few of the career paths available that people don’t normally associate with the maritime of sailing, shipyards and ports. Yet they are all part of the same family.

So your traditional seafaring skills and qualifications are not required in order to get paid to travel. And these are all careers that are now, finally, back on board.

Students and job switchers with HR qualifications, for example, can swap an office with a cabin. Cruises can have well over 1,000 crew members, from multiple backgrounds and nationalities, who need to be backed by a strong team of HR professionals looking after their welfare, development, and progression.

Doctors and nurses can also trade wards for the seas, in a team taking care of any medical issues or emergencies from an infirmary on board. And cooks are needed not just for the galleys, but for the kitchens in restaurants – some that are even run by Michelin Starred chefs. Every cruise also needs a sommelier, too, to consult passengers on fine wine selections.

Any students or switchers who can speak more than one language, and are interested in a customer facing role, can also join a team of international hosts, whose role is to assist non-English speaking passengers in their native language.

Cruises, too, can be a home for anyone with experience in entertainment, hosting shows, organising activities and performing arts. Providing unforgettable experiences – from Broadway shows, to skydiving simulations – to thousands of people. And if you are good with sales and communication, with a passion for art, you could even work as an art director, or auctioneer, representing both well-known and emerging artists at sea.

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Those who have worked in travel and tourism, or are just simply well-travelled or have previously been a tour guide, could find their calling in the shore destinations department on board, picking the best spots city to city and island to island.

So from just this small snapshot, we hope anyone curious about a career full of new places, and new experiences, can see that there are more ways into a life at sea than they may have expected.

But the cruise industry, of course, is also a natural home for those who want to power engine rooms, and maintain watch on deck and at sea, all on some of the most spectacular ships in the world.

Cruise lines can sponsor cadet programmes for all of these, such as the three offered by Viking Maritime Group’s own dedicated cadetship group, Chiltern Marine – engineer officers, electrotechnical officers, and deck officers – financing the studies in the classrooms, and on the water, that will provide the required licence and academic degree to be a seafaring officer. An option for anyone technically minded, with qualifications in maths, sciences, who thrives working in a team.

But a life at sea isn’t for anyone, even if they are inspired by cruises. And that’s OK, because the world’s largest cruise corporations have major bases on shore in the UK, providing the accounting, sales, marketing, management and direction that powers the industry as much as the engines on board.

Pre-pandemic, the UK cruise industry saw record investment from cruise lines, record numbers of British holidaymakers taking a cruise, and rising numbers of those choosing a British Isles cruise for their holiday – creating more than 82,000 jobs in the country and contributing more than £9.4billion to our economy.

So we can all be excited for the industry to set sail again, and with 170,000 maritime jobs expected to be created from freeports announced earlier this year, students and switchers considering their next move can also, once again, get excited for a new career of a lifetime.

Lorna Wagner, Careers & Outreach Programme Manager, Maritime UK

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