5 Cruise Ship Jobs Paying Top Dollar

  • Executive Chef
  • Cruise Director
  • Chief Purser
  • Hotel Director
  • Human Resources Manager

Generally, the highest-paying jobs on cruise ships are held by officers, department heads, and those working on commission. However, many other variables affect earning potential, such as cruise line, ship size, clientele, tips awarded, and prior job experience.

Contracts are another factor. Onboard positions are short-term, based on contractual agreements. For new employees, job length ranges from three months to one year. Thankfully, contracts are renewable, granting longer employment terms to those who serve with excellence.

Additionally, crew members have a low cost of living since their meals and cabins are free. Some cruise lines also cover laundry expenses and uniforms. These benefits translate into major cost-savings. Still, some jobs are especially lucrative. Here are five that pay top dollar.

Related resource: Top 15 Hospitality Management Bachelor’s Degree Online Programs

1. Executive Chef

This position requires both culinary and managerial expertise. An executive chef oversees all menu planning, meal preparation, and galley staff. Both the hot and cold galleys are under the chef’s skillful leadership. The hot galley creates mouthwatering cooked meals, while the cold galley offers scrumptious buffet foods and pastries.

Also on the chef’s plate is supervising meal service in a ship’s restaurants, formal dining rooms, and buffets. Of vital importance is safe food handling. Accordingly, the executive chef ensures that all galley staff is thoroughly trained in sanitation practices. Staying within the department budget can be tough. To avoid overspending, the chef collaborates with the food and beverage manager.

Typically, executive chefs work six days a week on a shift schedule. Time off can be spent either shipboard or on land during port stays.

To qualify for this profession, one must be a culinary school graduate with at least five years of upscale restaurant experience. As of August 2019, executive chefs earn between $4,800 and $7,800 monthly. Here, Cruise Industry News reveals an executive chef’s recipe for stellar food service.

2. Cruise Director

Charismatic and engaging, a cruise director arranges and orchestrates social events, such as musical performances, comedy shows, guest parties, and youth activities. As “the friendly face of a passenger ship,” a cruise director is among the first to greet embarking guests. As a gracious Master of Ceremonies, they preside over Welcome Aboard Shows and Captain’s Cocktail Parties.

To produce spectacular events, the cruise director researches and books top performers, such as bandmasters, musicians, actors, dancers, and choreographers. They also rehearse with cast members. In preparing for shows, the cruise director consults with stage managers and technical crews, ensuring ideal acoustics, lighting, and set props.

While entertaining is certainly fun, the job has a serious side, too. Office work includes number crunching, tracking the entertainment budget and bills.

Currently, the cruise director salary ranges from $5,800 to $7,500 per month. The highest-paying cruise jobs require at least five years in the recreation or entertainment industry, preferably shipboard. Additionally, employers favor applicants with a bachelor’s degree in hospitality.

3. Chief Purser

As head of a ship’s accounting department, this senior officer handles all financial transactions concerning guests. For example, when passengers allocate tips, the chief purser ensures they’re awarded to intended departments and crews. When voyages end, the chief purser updates all guest accounts.

Onboard employees receive their pay from the chief purser, either in cash or via direct deposit to their bank accounts. Likewise paid are concessionaires, such as shops and kiosks. However, their earnings are commission-based. The chief purser also receives and counts cash delivered to a vessel by armored car.

This supervisory role includes managing crew pursers, a ship’s money collectors. Crew pursers gather money from Internet Cafés and vending machines, restocking them as needed. The Purser’s Office resides in a ship’s main lobby. From this central location, the office coordinates guest boarding and departure, including customs clearance.

This job requires a background in accounting and five years of managerial experience in the hospitality field. The monthly salary averages $4,200, typically with a one-year contract. Here, Chron explains the hiring process.

4. Hotel Director

Also called a hotel manager, this officer is largely responsible for guest satisfaction. Several departments are under their wing, namely Food Service, Entertainment, Housekeeping, Concessions, and the Purser’s Office. In this capacity, the director tracks departmental inventories, revenues, and budgets.

When service issues arise, the hotel director assists in resolving them. For instance, working with the Purser’s Office, they help to reconcile guest billing and payment problems. Since job happiness affects crew performance, the hotel director strives to maintain pleasant working conditions.

To uphold high performance standards, the hotel director ensures that all service staff is well-qualified. The Concessions Department plays a key role. This division, run by third-party vendors, hires and trains ship employees in the spas, casino, boutiques, gift shops, and photography departments.

Currently, the average monthly salary for a hotel manager is $5,540. The educational requirement is a bachelor’s degree in hospitality. To qualify for the highest-paying cruise jobs, applicants need a minimum of three years at a full-service resort, hotel, or cruise ship, in a supervisory context.

5. Human Resources Manager

Excluding concession workers, at the helm of shipboard staffing is the human resources (HR) manager. Although similar to a land-based corporate position, the cruise setting poses unique challenges. Crew members are multinational, working and living in limited space. Many ships average 2,000 employees. With such sizeable crews, maintaining harmony and quality service requires strategic planning.

To this end, the best HR managers provide extensive on-boarding, equipping new hires with the skills needed to perform their particular duties. If employee conflicts arise, the HR manager helps to smooth ruffled feathers. Additionally, they design programs for staff training and development, performance evaluation, promotions, compensation, and compliance with company and berthing policies.

To bolster staff morale, the HR manager conducts regular social events. Wellness programs diffuse tension and stress. Working with the hotel director, they affirm crew value by ensuring well-appointed cabins, fitness centers, crew decks, and recreation rooms. To prepare crew members for leadership roles, the HR manager provides customized coaching.

Currently, shipboard HR managers earn between $5,000 and $6,500 monthly. For the highest-paying cruise employment, one needs a bachelor’s degree in human resources or business administration, along with at least three years in HR management.

Best Prosperity

For those with a degree in hospitality, among the highest-paying cruise ship jobs are executive chef, cruise director, chief purser, hotel director, and human resources manager. While the positions of captain and safety officer pay more, they require graduation from an accredited maritime training institution.

This field is ideal if you’re a hard-working, service-oriented team player. Crew members work between 45 and 60 hours per week, depending on their responsibilities. Also, you must be comfortable with compact quarters and time away from family and friends. However, in any of the above jobs, you’ll be well-compensated while working in a breathtaking ocean setting.

So, if you feel called to cruise employment, earn your degree and log a few years of related job experience. Then, cruise lines will eagerly hire you, welcoming you aboard!