What Is the Best Job on a Cruise Ship? And 2 Amazing Runner Up Jobs…

Cruise Ships at St. Marteen Port
Image by: Rob Lilley
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If you’re considering working on a cruise ship you’ll definitely want to know what the best job on board is.

In my opinion, the best job is always the one that gives you the most time and freedom to see and to explore the ports. After all, why work on a cruise ship if you can’t see the world right?

Having worked on cruise ships for 5 years and seeing all the positions on board, the best job is definitely a Casino Dealer.  From days off, to sleeping in, getting to see the ports, and a fair wage – a casino dealer is the best job you’ll find onboard.

Continue reading for more about why working in the casino is the best job on a cruise ship, as well as two other cruise ship jobs you should consider.

Casino workers get days off

Unlike 99% of the rest of the crew, casino workers get days off. Well, at least a large part of the day.

Unknown to most, the casino is not allowed to be open when the ship is in port. Most countries prohibit gambling within a certain distance of land, making it illegal for the casino to open while the ship is docked.

And, on some cruise ships, the casino is closed during the day while at sea as many passengers are doing other things during the daylight hours.

This means the casino staff does not have to work during these times.

The casino does open once leaving port and usually stays open until the last guests leave at 1 or 2am, which means you will have many late nights. But the great part is, you get to make up for that lost sleep…

Casino dealers get to sleep in

Not having to work on port days means there’s no reason for the casino staff to get up. The result is, the casino staff gets to sleep in.

This is virtually unheard of for any other position on the ship – except maybe for two other jobs you can read about below.

This doesn’t mean you might not get called in for meetings or other administrative tasks, but chances are you’ll have a lot of free time on your hands. And there’s nothing better to do with free time on a cruise ship than to explore the ports…

Casino staff get to see the world

Because the casino is closed during the day on port days, the opportunity to see and to explore the ports is unmatched by any other job onboard.

You also have the advantage of having the most hours off during the day, meaning you don’t have to rush. As an Internet Manager, I only had 4 hours off from noon until 4pm, which meant I had to really explore quickly to see as much as I could. Casino workers usually have the full morning and all afternoon.

Granted, casino staff are a little tired from a long night, but it’s definitely worth it to see the Roman Colleseum or lay on a beach all day in the Caribbean.

Casino dealers get to go on passenger tours, for FREE

To really make the most of each port, the casino staff can ask the tour desk to be a Tour Assistant on passenger tours.

Tour desk staff are always looking for crew to help on tours, and casino staff are the perfect choice because of how much time they get off.

Tours that cost passengers hundreds of dollars are completely free for a tour assistant, meaning a casino worker can have all the same expensive passenger tours at no cost.

Once, while working on cruise ships…

I dated a girl who worked in the casino and was amazed at how many passenger tours she was able to go on, as a tour assistant.

We were travelling through South Africa at the time, and she went on safaris, visited wildlife parks, major shopping trips, and so much more…

Even when at work, a casino dealer is not always working

As the IT/Communications Officer on many ships, I frequently went into the casino to fix computer issues.

In a casino, there is a locked area called “The Cage” where one of the Casino dealers (or manager) would be locked in with the money safe. Guests would come to the cage to exchange money for casino chips or cash out.

If the casino was slow, I noticed the person in the cage was often playing games on their laptop, watching a movie, or reading a book. I don’t think they were “supposed to”, but it would be hard not to do much else to pass the time.

One downfall I noticed was that the casino dealers had to stand behind their gambling tables even when there was no one in the room, and often for hours – while having to smile the whole time 🙂  I know this was incredibly boring for many of them!

Casino workers learn other great skills

With so much time off, a casino dealer has a chance to learn many new skills.

Some dealers I knew would try to learn another language or improve their English, by taking a correspondence course, or doing what I did – learning the art of photography!

And if not learning a new skill, there was plenty of downtime in their cabins to catch up on sleep and watch movies and tv.

Casino dealers get a fairly good wage

I had a number of friends (and a girlfriend, as mentioned) who worked in the casino, so the subject of wages came up from time to time.

From what I understood, on one ship the wage was $10 USD/day. That’s $70/week or $280/month. Yep – that’s terrible. But they also got tips. And tips brought the monthly total to between $1700 and $2300 USD.

That’s not bad considering the exchange rate for the country you’re in, and better than a lot of jobs on cruise ships.

It’s not hard to be a casino dealer

Unlike other positions on the ship that require a lot of training and years of experience, becoming a casino dealer isn’t necessarily easy, but it’s not terribly difficult.

The most popular way to become a dealer is to complete a 4-8 week training course in your country and then apply for a vacant position at a land-based casino. Once you’ve gained enough experience (1 to 3 years), apply for a position on as many cruise ships as you can, as at least one or a few of them may be hiring.

A few skills you’ll want to make sure you have (or can learn) are:

  • Be friendly and outgoing
  • Be able to do simple math quickly – this is vital
  • Good hand-eye coordination
  • General enjoyment of the unique casino atmosphere
  • Enjoy working at sea!

Here are a few companies that provide Casino jobs on cruise ships:

Being a Casino Dealer is great job for all the reasons above, but it’s not perfect. Here are some of the reasons my casino friends said this position isn’t always the best one…

A few reasons you might not like being a casino dealer

On many ships now, the casino is the only place passengers can smoke. This means the casino is full of smoke most of the time, and it’s not a very healthy place to be.

Also, the hours can go very late into the night or the next morning. On port days, you’ll most likely start in the late afternoon and go until 2 or 3am. If you don’t mind staying up late (and sleeping in) this shouldn’t be too much of a problem.

If the casino is busy, be prepared to be on your feet and working very hard for many hours at a time.

And lastly, even though having a lot of free time is a bonus to some, others can find it quite boring at times. I knew quite a few casino dealers that spent all their free time in their cabin watching movies or tv. They had seen many of the ports already and didn’t feel the motivation to learn anything new – what a shame!

2 More of the best cruise ship jobs

If you don’t think being a Casino Dealer is the right cruise ship job for you, here are 2 other positions you should seriously consider:

  1. Internet Cafe Manager
  2. Shop Assistant

1. Internet Cafe Manager

I was an Internet Cafe Manager for over 2 years and I loved it.

Essentially, you help passengers (and crew) log into the ship’s internet and any other internet-related issues they might need help with. If you’re mildly good with computers, you’ll be surprised at how easy this job is.

Good hours and management status

The hours are usually quite good, and most importantly you get plenty of time off in port – which is the main reason you’re working at sea right?

You also have “Manager” status which means you might qualify for your own room and most likely get to dine in the Officers’ Mess, as well as other passenger area priveledges like going to the passenger buffets, hanging out in the night clubs or seeing the shows.

FREE internet!

Most importantly, you’ll get free internet – which is like gold on a cruise ship.

The pay isn’t the greatest though. I was making about $500 USD/week, or $2000/mth. There are commissions after reaching certain goals, but to be honest the goals aren’t attainable for the most part.

Plenty of time to learn new things

Sometimes the internet cafe would be empty for hours at a time, or the passengers there didn’t need my help.

I was able to read a lot, and even took advantage of the free internet to learn website design (hence this website).

I also learned photography. I spent much of my port days taking pictures and all of my free time in the internet cafe learning to photo edit.

Some of my photos are used in this website, and I’ve sold over a thousand photos online. You can see a few of them here: https://www.shutterstock.com/g/roblilley

Other internet cafe managers would take online courses, create blogs or try to write books.

Some of the downfalls

One of the downfalls for me was the repetition of the same tasks over and over, like explaining the pricing, apologizing for the slow internet (continuosly!), helping with the same login problems, and trying to help those that were “technically challenged”.

Once, while working on cruise ships…

At the beginning of a world cruise, I had a passenger set down a laptop at my workstation and say, “My friends want me to email them while I’m away and bought me a laptop. I’ve never used a computer before. Can you show me how it works?” Wow!

Also, I’m an introvert so I didn’t mind working on my own. If you’re a people person and prefer to work with other people all the time, this position might be a little lonely for you.

2. Shop Assistant

Being a Shop Assistant (“shoppie”) is another great position if you really want to see the world.

Like the casino, the shops have to remain closed while in port. You may be asked to still come in for administrative duties, re-stock shelves, or do inventory from time to time, but overall you’ll get to spend a lot of port days off the ship.

Another benefit to this position is that the shops don’t stay open too late. By 10 or 11pm you’ll be done for the night and able to enjoy the rest of your evening.

Opening hours are usually not that early either, with starting times at 9am.

You can also make a fair wage along with commissions if you’re good at selling.

And, if you like working with other people, you’ll have a team of shoppies around you to keep the days fun.

Putting it all together…

When it comes to finding the best job at sea, if seeing and experiencing the ports is important to you, definitely consider becoming a casino dealer, or one of these other positions.

A Little About the Author...

Rob Lilley is passionate about working on cruise ships, and spent 5 years of his life travelling the seven seas and touching ground on all 7 continents.  With the experience of 2 different job positions in multiple contracts with different cruise lines, from explorer ships to full-sized cruise liners, Rob is keen to share his insider insights with all of those interested in working at sea! More…

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