How to Find Cruise Volunteer Opportunities

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Everyone wants to work in the cruise industry, but there’s another option if you want to make your way on board: volunteering.

Cruises can have volunteers on board for a variety of reasons – whether they volunteer on the ship or at port. It’s a great way to participate in a meaningful experience while traveling the world. There are even cruises that are specifically for charitable purposes.

Interested in embarking on this journey? Keep reading to learn how to find cruise volunteer opportunities so that you can give back at sea.

What Are Cruise Volunteer Opportunities?

Volunteering on a cruise fits the umbrella of voluntourism, which sees volunteers travel to different places and give back to the local communities. Voluntourism has increased in popularity in recent years, and that popularity has extended to cruises.

Cruise volunteer opportunities are twofold – you can volunteer onboard, often for charitable organizations, or you can volunteer at port as part of your shore excursion. Some opportunities even see you doing both. 

Types of Volunteer Opportunities

There are several ways in which you can volunteer on cruises. You typically have three options: volunteering on board, in port, and on charity cruises. Let’s take a closer look at all three options.

Volunteering on Board

There are several causes that make their way to cruise ships for fundraising purposes. Therefore, there may be cruise volunteer opportunities if you volunteer with a particular organization.

Cruise Ship Volunteering
Photo Credit: Maridav / Shutterstock

What’s more, some cruise lines have their own organizations with which you can participate. An example is the Holland America Line Foundation, whose efforts to fight cancer can be found on board their ships with On Deck for a Cause.

This cause involves a 5k fundraising walk on each sailing. On the special day, participants are invited to join in a 5k walk around the ship’s wide teak decks.

Volunteering in Port

Volunteering in port is a great option if you’re looking to volunteer onshore in the local community you’re visiting. Some cruise lines will have volunteer opportunities set up as options for passengers. 

What you’ll do when volunteering in port may vary. You may find yourself helping the community, participating in environmental efforts, and volunteering with wildlife.

In the past, Carnival Cruise Line had a social-impact-themed cruise called Fathom with volunteer opportunities in the Dominican Republic and Cuba. Crystal Cruises also had a volunteer cruise called “You Care, We Care” which allowed passengers to volunteer at certain ports of call.

You don’t necessarily have to choose a cruise with volunteer options in order to give back during your voyage. Alternatively, you can set up your own volunteer opportunities at different ports throughout your cruise as excursions. 

Charity Cruise

Our last option for cruise volunteer opportunities is to participate in a charity cruise. Some organizations charter out cruise ships for charity-themed cruises. The way this works is that portions of the proceeds from your cruise ticket go toward a charitable organization. There are also other opportunities for giving back on board. 

An example of a current charity cruise includes the Buckeye Cruise for Cancer. This cruise features former Ohio State players with whom passengers can interact. Passengers can participate in auctions and donate money towards fighting cancer.

Charity Cruise
Photo Credit: mangostock / Shutterstock

You can try to volunteer for these particular charity cruises as they come up. By simply attending the cruise, however, you will be participating in a worthy cause. Cruises often even have charitable events that you can participate in. 

Now that you know the possible cruise volunteer opportunities out there, let’s discuss how to find the right opportunity for you.

How to Find Cruise Volunteer Opportunities

Whether you’re volunteering on the ship or in port, there are a variety of opportunities to give back while sailing the world. The key is to find the right opportunity for your interests and capacity. 

When considering cruise volunteer opportunities, there are several factors to consider. Some common factors to keep in mind include: 

  • Length of trip: You should have an idea of how much time you can dedicate to volunteering beforehand. Volunteer opportunities can vary from one week to several weeks, depending on what you’re doing.
  • Location: The location is especially important if you’re looking to volunteer at a port of call. Consider the specific communities and causes that you’d like to volunteer for. 
  • Type of volunteer work: Volunteer work can range from participating in environmental clean up to helping children. Consider the type of work you’re interested in.
  • Cost: While you can’t put a price on what you gain from volunteering, most cruise volunteer opportunities come at a cost. Consider how much you’re willing to spend to volunteer. Alternatively, you may be able to find volunteer opportunities on cruise ships where the majority of costs are covered.


Are there age restrictions for cruise volunteer opportunities?

The age restriction for cruise volunteer opportunities depends on what exactly you’re doing on the ship. If you’re volunteering on the ship itself, chances are that you’ll need to be at least 21. If you’re volunteering at port, the age restriction is much more flexible. There may even be family volunteer opportunities so that your kids can join in!

Is experience necessary to participate in a cruise volunteer opportunity?

For many volunteer opportunities, there’s no experience necessary. However, if you’re volunteering for something that needs a particular skill, you may be required to fulfill some qualifications.

Can I earn credit for college by participating in a cruise volunteer opportunity?

As a student, you have the option of participating in the Semester at Sea program, where you spend a semester on a cruise ship traveling and learning. Many volunteer passenger opportunities are part of the program. This is a great opportunity to receive college credit while traveling and volunteering on a cruise. 

Conclusion: Volunteering at Sea

Volunteering on a cruise is a fulfilling experience that can see you making a difference in the lives of different communities. 

Opportunities on volunteer cruises always pop up, whether it’s with specific cruise lines or on shore. So it’s worth keeping an eye out for cruise volunteer opportunities to make the most out of your next cruise.

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