Many modern cruise ships are similar to floating resorts offering fine accommodations, gourmet dining, and every possible activity and form of entertainment. It takes a staff of hundreds, and sometimes thousands, to ensure the smooth operation of a cruise ship and the comfort of all passengers. All employees, regardless of their rank, are expected to participate in routine lifesaving and safety drills. Crew organization is divided into six different departments (smaller liners may not have as many divisions of organization); the captain, or the master of the ship, oversees the entire crew.
This department is responsible for the navigation of the ship, and oversees the maintenance of the hull and deck. It is also tasked with safety systems maintenance, ensuring that the lifesaving and fire fighting equipment are in working order and available in an emergency, and managing shipboard security (although this may be handled by other departments on some cruise lines).
This staff operates and maintains a variety of state-of-the-art systems such as the vessel's power plant; environmental systems; and the heating, ventilation, air conditioning system. Together, deck and engine staffs include officers, carpenters, seamen, maintenance workers, electricians, engineers, repairmen, plumbers, and incinerator operators.
Chief radio officers oversee and operate their vessel's radio and other communications equipment.
Physicians treat passengers whose maladies range from seasickness to more serious health problems. Nurses assist the doctors and provide first aid. Large vessels have fully-equipped intensive care units, as well as laboratory and x-ray equipment, and medical professionals are needed to staff these areas.
This department, one of the largest on board, is concerned with the comfort of all passengers. The food staff includes specially trained chefs who prepare meals, ranging from gourmet dinners to more casual fare poolside. The wait staff serves guests in the formal dining room and provides room service. Wine stewards help passengers with wine choices, and are responsible for maintaining proper inventories aboard the ship. Bartenders mix and serve drinks at many stations throughout the ship. From simple blocks of ice, sculptors create works of art that are used to decorate dining room buffets. The housekeeping staff is composed of executive housekeepers and room attendants who keep cabins and staterooms orderly, supply towels and sheets, and maintain public areas throughout the ship.
This large department is responsible for guest relations and services. The chief purser, much like a hotel's general manager, is the head of this department and is the main contact for passengers regarding the ship's policies and procedures. Assistant pursers, considered junior officers, assist the chief with various duties, such as providing guest services, ship information, monetary exchange, postage, safety deposit boxes, and other duties usually associated with the front desk department of a hotel. The cruise director heads the cruise staff and plans daily activities and entertainment. The youth staff director plans activities and games specifically designed for children. Ships with a casino on board employ casino workers, including game dealers, cashiers, keno runners, and slot machine attendants. Sound and lighting technicians are needed to provide music and stage lighting for the many entertainment venues found on board. Many entertainers are hired to sing, dance, and perform comedy skits and musical revues. Dance instructors teach dance classes ranging from ballroom to country. Also, many employees are hired to work in duty-free shops and souvenir stores, beauty parlors, spas, health clubs, and libraries.
Other occupations in the cruise ship industry include clerical workers, human resources workers, Information Technology specialists, security workers, and learning and development managers (who onboard, train, and develop new employees).
- Adventure Travel Specialists
- Amusement Park Workers
- Baggage Porters and Bellhops
- Bed and Breakfast Owners
- Bicycle Mechanics
- Campaign Workers
- Cooks and Chefs
- Event Planners
- Exhibit Designers
- Farmers' Market Managers/Promoters
- Fast Food Workers
- Flight Attendants
- Food Service Workers
- Gaming Occupations
- Green Hotel/Resort Ecomanagers
- Hotel and Motel Managers
- Hotel Concierges
- Hotel Desk Clerks
- Hotel Executive Housekeepers
- Hotel Restaurant Managers
- Housekeepers and Maids
- Inbound Tour Guides
- Lifeguards and Swimming Instructors
- Museum Attendants
- Museum Directors and Curators
- Music Venue Owners and Managers
- National Park Service Employees
- Park Rangers
- Parking Attendants
- Personal Shoppers
- Recreation Workers
- Reservation and Ticket Agents
- Resort Workers
- Restaurant and Food Service Managers
- Ship's Captains
- Ski Resort Workers
- Spa Attendants
- Spa Managers
- Sports Facility Managers
- Sports Instructors and Coaches
- Stadium Ushers and Vendors
- Strength and Conditioning Coaches
- Tour Guides
- Travel Agents
- Wedding and Party Consultants
- Yoga and Pilates Instructors
- Zoo and Aquarium Curators and Directors