The Top 6 Best Cruise Lines to Work For

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Working on a cruise line is a lot of people’s dream job. However, it’s essential to understand what it’s like working on a cruise ship before diving into the industry. Depending on the cruise line, the answer to this can differ drastically.

If you’re interested in learning the best cruise lines to work for, you’ve come to the right place. Keep reading to discover which six cruise lines offer the best working experience for crew members, with benefits like career advancement opportunities, competitive pay, and supportive work culture, not to mention perks such as a crew gym, bar, barber, laundry, and small crew pool.

Best Cruise Lines To Work For

Cruise lines all have different cultures. This is due to the wide variety of crew members, the type of jobs available on the cruise ships, and the cruise’s top destination.

Read Also: How to Get a Job on a Cruise Ship

When figuring out how to get a cruise ship job, it’s essential to consider each of these factors. Without further ado, here are the top 6 best cruise lines to work for. 

1. Royal Caribbean International

Royal Caribbean International is one of the biggest cruise lines around, but that fact alone isn’t what makes it one of the best cruise lines to work for. Examples of popular ships you can work for include the Oasis-class Harmony of the Seas and Symphony of the Seas.

Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship
Photo Copyright: Solarisys / Shutterstock

When you work for Royal Caribbean cruise line, the possibilities are endless, with destinations across six continents. Employees can enjoy a series of benefits, including:

  • Cruise discounts for staff and family members
  • Numerous crew activities
  • Free accommodation while working aboard

The Royal Caribbean work culture is collegial and friendly, with crew members often getting together outside their working hours. However, those working hours can be long – it may be weeks before you can get a full 24 hours off.

2. Carnival Cruise Line

Next on our list of best cruise lines to work for is Carnival Cruise Line. 

Carnival is another large cruise line that’s a popular choice for cruise enthusiasts. Employees are satisfied with Carnival’s multiple benefits, which, depending on your position, could include healthcare, life insurance, and a 401k.

Carnival Magic Cruise Ship
Photo Credit: Ihor Koptilin / Shutterstock

As with other big cruise lines, Carnival employees often work long hours. Employees describe working on the ship as intense, especially on popular ships such as Carnival Panorama and Carnival Horizon. These are essential factors to consider if you want to work for Carnival Cruise Line.

3. Disney Cruise Line

Working on Disney Cruise Line may be every Disney fan’s ultimate dream. After all, you can’t go wrong with Disney and travel!

When working on a Disney cruise, you can expect to be entirely surrounded by the Magic Kingdom. Five Disney cruise ships currently sail to the Caribbean, Europe, and Alaska. Working on a Disney cruise comes with a variety of perks, including:

  • Discount on merchandise
  • Complimentary theme park admission 
  • Development opportunities
  • Medical coverage
Disney Dream Cruise Ship
Photo Credit: Darryl Brooks / Shutterstock

One element that Disney Cruise Line specifically looks for in employees is the ability to provide excellent guest service within a family environment. You’ll receive ample training in the expectations of the cruise ship. They are particular about how their staff conducts themselves on the ship, and you’ll have to follow the rules closely.

4. Norwegian Cruise Line

Next up, we have Norwegian Cruise Line. Like any cruise line, you can expect a fast-paced environment where you’re always learning. Norwegian Cruise Line’s crew is relatively young, meaning you can expect an energetic culture. Some employees say that the culture is challenging to navigate at first, but they ended up making lifelong friends.

Norwegian Breakaway Cruise Ship
Photo Credit: picture.factory / Shutterstock

Along with the learning opportunities come many opportunities for advancement. You also have great benefits to look forward to in health, dental, vision, and matching 401K.

5. MSC Cruises

As one of the largest cruise lines around, MSC Cruises employs over 30,000 staff worldwide on their various cruise ships, making them one of the best cruise lines to work for. 

If you’re looking for a diverse cruise ship, MSC delivers just that. You’ll find staff from over 114 nationalities on board that reflect all destinations this cruise line stops at!

MSC Cruises Funnel
Photo Credit: Fitria Ramli / Shutterstock

They currently operate 19 ships, including the MSC Meraviglia and MSC Seaside, and sail to destinations across the world, including Europe, the Caribbean, and the Mediterranean. Some of MSC Cruise’s benefits include crew shore excursions, free medical treatment by the ship’s doctor, and parties in the crew bar.

6. Celebrity Cruises

Last on our list of the best cruise lines to work for is Celebrity Cruises. With popular cruise ships such as the Celebrity Edge and Celebrity Summit, Celebrity Cruises offers employees plenty of options, from Hawaiian voyages to transatlantic cruises. The work culture is generally great, and there is a lot of respect on board between the employees.

Docked Celebrity Cruises Ship
Photo Credit: JJava Designs /

Some employees say that Celebrity Cruises has approachable management and efficient service systems. While working on Celebrity Cruises can be as stressful as working on any other cruise line, employees are generally compensated better than on other ships.


What are the hours like on a cruise ship?

No matter what cruise ship you work on, you can expect to work long hours. Shifts generally range from eight to 12 hours, and you can go weeks, if not months, without a day off. You’ll be able to find downtime, but it may be challenging to get a full 24 hours off. However, many cruise line employees say they have so much fun they sometimes forget that they’re at work!

How long are cruise ship contracts?

Cruise ship employment contracts vary depending on the cruise line and your job. Contracts can be as short as three months or as long as eight months. Many cruise lines provide a few weeks of vacation between contracts. This can be four to eight weeks. 

The Takeaway: Choose the Cruise Line That’s Best For You

Working on a cruise ship is a memorable and life-changing opportunity. You’ll gain valuable experience, make lifelong friends, and travel the world. There are several different cruise lines to choose from, but it’s essential to do your research to figure out the best one for you.

Emrys Thakkar
Emrys Thakkar
The founder of Cruise Hive which was established in 2008 as one of the earliest cruise blogs in the industry. Emrys has been reporting on the latest cruise industry news since the site first launched. Expert insights and tips featured on a number of publications including The Express, Business Insider, and more. Worked for Carnival Cruise Line for 8 years and is well and truly dedicated to cruising! Has also been on a number of cruises so can offer an insight into the industry that many will not be able to do. What's even more impressive is that Emrys has traveled the world by visiting more than 34 countries, lived in China for 8 years, and cruised the Caribbean, Baltic, Mediterranean, Asia, and Europe. Find out more about us here.


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