** IMPORTANT NOTE **
The information below was written before the COVID-19 pandemic. Current onboard experience for crewmembers may be different, and we encourage you to read the specific information provided by the cruise line you are joining to learn about changes to life onboard.
At Mexicrew, we are proud to supply crew to cruise lines operating in various markets. These cruise lines are among the best in the world, and offer excellent career opportunities for well qualified candidates.
Working onboard a ship is an interesting and challenging career choice for many people.
We suggest you start by watching the "Welcome Aboard" videos (which are produced by Oceania Cruises, however are relevant to all cruise ship employment):
The information below is general for most cruise companies. If you are hired, we will communicate the specific conditions and benefits provided by your employer.
Working hours and Schedules
You can expect to work a minimum of 10 hours per day, seven days per week. The 10 hours may be divided into split shifts of varying lengths.
Contract length is normally between 5 - 10 months (depending on company, ship and position), followed by 2 months unpaid vacation.
Your initial three months on board are considered a probationary period. At any time within this period, the Company can choose to terminate your employment agreement for sub-standard performance.
You will receive your salary payments onboard the vessel on a regular schedule which will be explained to you when you join. Salaries are normally not paid in cash - you will receive a debit card, and your payroll will be deposited to your card account. The card can be used to obtain cash, or to make purchases online, or in retail stores. You can manage your account online, and transfer money via Western Union, etc.
Joining Expenses for New Hires
Flights to join the ship the first time may be at your own expense, depending on the company and position. In all cases, the company covers the cost of your vacation ticket when you finish your contract, and, for some positions, your future tickets when you rejoin. We will explain the flight policy for your specific company and position during the interview process. If you need to buy your ticket to join the ship, see our Travel Services page for more information.
Most crew are responsible for all joining expenses in the port of embarkation, including but not limited to hotels, visas, meals, port agent fees and transportation. The company will book accommodation and meals for crew needing an overnight in the arrival port. These expenses will be charged back to you on board. According to your position, we will discuss policies with you during your interview.
A passport, valid for at least one year is required when you join. If you are applying for a new passport, we suggest you obtain one valid for at least 5 years, to make things easier in the future. Obtaining the passport is at your own expense.
C1/D Visas (U.S Seaman transit visa)
All crew need a valid C1/D Visa before joining. In addition to the C1/D Visa, you may need another visa depending on the port where you join. We will let you know. Visa costs are covered by the company - however you will need to pay at the time you make the application, and then present your receipt onboard the ship when you join, and the cost will be refunded to you.
Required STCW Certificates
The following Basic Safety Training (BST) STCW Certificates are required.
1. Basic Fire Fighting
2. Personal Survival Techniques
3. Elementary First Aid / CPR
4. Personal Safety and Social Responsibility
Additionally Crowd Management Training, Crisis Management / Human Behavior Training, and Security Awareness Training are required. These courses can be taken in various places (we will advise you), and the cost is your own responsibility. See our STCW page for more information.
Depending on the ship and itinerary, you may need to apply for a Seaman's Book before you join, or when you are onboard the ship. We will advise you. This is at your own expense.
Pre-Employment Physical Examination
You are required by law to pass a Pre- Employment Medical Examination. The cost of this examination is paid by the crew member. We will tell you where to go to do your medical, if you are offered a position. See our Medicals page for more information.
Depending on the company, ship, and position, a deposit of up to $800 may be deducted in equal installments from your wages during the first months of your contract. The same deposit is refunded to you upon completion of your contract as you disembark. Please note that in cases of dismissal or resignation this amount will be held onboard towards the cost of your transportation home.
The large majority of crew share a cabin with one other crew member. Some utility positions need to share 3 & 4 bed cabins. Smoking in your cabin is strictly prohibited and will lead to immediate dismissal. Cabins have beds, small closets, writing desk, a TV and an en suite bathroom (except on certain Marella Cruises ships where the bathrooms are in the common areas). You must change sheets, make your bed, dust and clean the bathroom on a regular basis.
Personal Appearance and Grooming Standards
• MALE - Hair must be neat, well groomed and above the collar for all male personnel. Sideburns must be above the ear lobe. Facial hair is not permitted for crew working in public areas, who must be clean shaven.
• FEMALE - Hair must be kept in a manageable fashion and clear of the face
• JEWELRY: Men must be without earrings and jewelry should be kept to a minimum. Ladies may wear tasteful and small earrings and one ring maximum per hand.
• TATTOOS that may be visible when wearing short sleeves and shorts are not acceptable.
The Language Spoken On board
English is the official language onboard in all public areas and around guests even when conversing with fellow crewmembers who speak your native tongue. For the benefit of constantly improving your English as a second language we strongly recommend you practice its use onboard as much as possible.
Employee areas on a ship are referred to as “crew areas”. Most crew cabins are below the guest decks. The majority of employees are only allowed in the crew areas when off-duty. When appropriate, your supervisor can advise you which areas you have access to.
Meals are provided in assigned crew dining rooms. Meal hours are posted in the dining room areas.
Your health and well-being are of the utmost importance. All crewmembers, are fully insured during the contracted period in accordance with your Employment Agreement. In the event of an illness or injury, the ship’s medical staff are always available to assist you with no charge. When an illness or injury requires shore side medical attention, treatment and/or hospitalization, the company insurance will provide you with the recommended treatment and/or hospitalization at no cost to you until the point of maximum medical improvement.
All ships have crew gyms with weights and cardiovascular equipment.
Each vessel has a crew bar where you can meet up after work and socialize.
While off-duty, you can go ashore in your casual clothes. When the ship is anchored and using tender boats guests are given priority to get to the land. The same occurs when returning to the ship as the last boat is only for our guests.
On or off the vessel, the company punishes the use of illegal drugs or the abuse of legal drugs or alcohol.
Use of illegal substances will result in termination, and possibly arrest by the local authorities.
Smoking is allowed only in designated areas aboard. Smoking in crew cabins is strictly prohibited! Non-compliance with this guideline may result in disciplinary action, up to and including termination.
Crime and Weapons
The company has a zero tolerance policy toward crime and weapons possession. Any employee committing a crime will be handed over to the appropriate local authorities and be dismissed. Possession of a weapon onboard is also grounds for immediate dismissal. The company reserves the right to conduct a search for weapons at any time without prior notification.
The company has a “Zero Tolerance” policy against all types of harassment, including but not limited to sexual harassment, creating a hostile work environment or by discriminating against age, race, gender, political beliefs or religion.