In this section we will teach you step by step on how the selection process works, what you will require and what to expect. This is a very long and detailed tutorial, so take some time to read all the details and try not to skip any steps.
If you haven’t done so, check out our Basic Requirements page in order to know what kind of documents you will need. Also, at this point you should also have your formatted Resume with you along other documents, like your passport and recommend Vaccines. If you have questions even before reading this tutorial, it might be already solved on your Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page.
Also, you have to know that the selection process has costs and not all companies refund you for these expenses. We talk more about this later…
Start by creating a folder on your documents to be the center of your operations. At this folder you should gather all the relative documents and information that are required for the whole process, so we recommend creating 4 sub-folders: Certificates, Medical Exams and Vaccines, Passport, and a folder for your Resume.
Also, if you’re applying for different positions in different companies, don’t forget to create different resumes and / or more sub-folders with the names of the companies.
Try to keep this folder organized and updated as time is precious for you and the recruiters. Because you will need to send these files over the internet and sometimes via email, make sure that you’re scanning certificates and other documents in a good resolution but not the highest as possible. If you don’t own a scanner don’t worry, as many of the current generation cellphones already have good cameras, you can take photographs of them as well, just keep the paper framing and make sure that you don’t crop any vital information.
You will now use those documents to apply for hiring agencies and as well straight with the cruise companies. Keep in mind that when applying with agencies the selection process tends to be longer, but going through the hiring agency sometimes is the only way to get hired.
Hiring agencies by international laws aren’t allowed to charge candidates for anything, but it’s most than common to hear that someone had to pay for a course or some kind of training. If you’re applying with one of these agencies, interrupt all your conversations and report it; Send us an email if you need. Also, there are tons of fraudulent or fake agencies all over the world that promise jobs that never existed, these agencies most of the time use names that resemble cruise companies, like Royal International Caribbean, and/or promise high salaries of over 5.000 dollars for a simple job as dishwasher. If you’re not sure if the agency is real or it’s a fake one, check out our list of all hiring agencies of the world by clicking here.
When applying with an agency, if you don’t have a set profession in mind the recruiter will most likely offer what it’s available at the moment or what he/she thinks that suits you most. This doesn’t happen when applying straight with the companies, as you should apply already knowing what are the basic requirements, duties and roles of your desired profession. If you’re not sure on the position you want or what is being offered, check out our Professions page.
Very important note: Let’s say that you’re a waiter with ten years of experience with wines and other beverages, looking forward to be a Sommelier or Bartender on board and a hiring agency offers you to be another position instead, promising that once inside the company it will be easier to change jobs, refuse that job offer. It is never an easy process to change jobs or departments on board, and on most cruise companies, that’s practically impossible. Keep your goal in focus and only accept a position that you’ll be comfortable with.
As every company, group or agency have a different form to be filled, it would be nearly impossible for us to cover it all here. But we will talk about how the process goes, as it is almost identical everywhere.
First, apply straight with the companies. Click here to access our list of all Cruise Liners, River Cruises and some Yachts companies as well. Most of them have a hiring process embedded on their websites, some of them you will need to send emails and others will redirect you to an agency that recruits talent. Note on the forms: some of them are very, very extensive and will require a lot of data, especially the one to apply for MSC Cruises and the Royal Caribbean Group.
Head to our agencies list to find the agencies available in your country and as well the international ones, these will accept candidates from all over the world, different from the local ones. Most of them as well will require you to fill out forms.
If you have what it takes, someone will notice you on the talent pool as send you an email scheduling an online interview. Local interviews are very rare, and only assigned if your position requires an audition (Dancers, Musicians, Technicians and Photographers for instance) or if you’re applying through a local agency. If you need to attend a local interview, more instructions will be sent but mostly likely that will require you to take all your documents and copies with you, and as well formal clothes and any equipment that you require to work.
Now, for most cruise companies and agencies, recruiters take one full day out of their normal tasks just to interview candidates, so it is very common to receive a message with no assigned time, like “Please stand by between 9:00 and 14:00.” That translates to: “We will call you as soon as we’re done with other candidates.” What you can do is wait by the computer/cellphone while doing other tasks and once you hear the notification, get ready and in position. And yes, you didn’t read wrong, you can do interviews using your cellphone, although the best practice would be in a computer.
Almost 100% of the interviews will be through Skype. If you don’t have an account, you can create one by www.skype.com clicking here and downloading their app that works on any device or operating system. Just to mention, some companies like Carnival and MSC use web-based software that eliminate the need of downloads and prevent frauds.
If you’re having an interview with an agency, no formal clothes are really required, just be presentable. By presentable, we mean that you can’t do the interview using pajamas. Now, if you’re doing the interview with the company recruiter, you should look more than presentable, you should be looking very professional.
For men, no tie is really required, but make sure you have a good looking formal shirt. Also, trim your beard if you have one, you don’t need to shave it! If it will be required for you to shave it or not, the hiring company/recruiter will mention it once you’re hired.
For women, basic make up is welcome, but don’t overdo it. Also, keep in mind that what you wear matters, so avoid clothes that show too much skin or short dresses.
The whole interview will be in English, unless you speak another language or if the company requires you to speak another language, like German or Chinese. You don’t really need to have perfect pronunciation to be hired, just make sure that you understood the question before answering it. If not sure of if you couldn’t hear it well, don’t be afraid of saying “I’m sorry, I didn’t understand the question. Can you repeat?”. Focus and patience are key elements, and don’t worry, the recruiter knows that you’re nervous. Also remember to smile, not all the time, but your smile is important on the cruise industry as it shows that you’re happy to be there and provide for the guests.
For best practices, is it better to keep calm and if possible, be in a place where no one will bother you, somewhere you feel comfortable as well. Nothing more annoying to be in a place with a lot of external noise or someone enters the room where you are. Also, test your camera and microphone before the interview and make sure other people can see/hear you. You can’t do the interview without the recruiter hearing and seeing you properly.
“So, what they will ask?” Well, the recruiters most likely greet you in the beginning, and they can ask different general questions before asking the hard ones, related to your position. Here we have three basic questions and some answers, for you to think about what would you say instead.
Some questions related to your role on board will be asked as well, so be prepared for anything. If you don’t know something or never heard about it, don’t be afraid to say that you don’t know. Most likely you will learn it on board anyway.
At the end, don’t forget to thank the recruiter for the opportunity. Being very educated is part of the hospitality industry as well. Also, you can be remembered by the recruiter as the only person that said “Thank you” to him/her after a long day of work.
After some days, you will receive a message by email saying if you’re approved or not. If approved, you will receive instructions of the next steps. If you just did an interview with an agency, the agency will then schedule an interview with the company.
If you unfortunately reproved the interview, neither the company or the agency will tell you the reason. You will receive an automatic email with a generic response and in a no-reply contact. The reasons may vary but the most common one is lack of knowledge in either English or in your job requirements. Don’t worry about it and keep trying with different agencies, companies or if you’re willing to, different positions as well.
Having a support group is also important during the selection process, so you can deal more easily with frustrations that we all had at one point. You’re more than welcome to join our community as we have groups on all social media.
THE NEXT STEPS:
If approved, the company will send you a long list of procedures that are needed and some other formalities. That’s why it is important to have very organized folders with your documents and other files so when you don’t get overwhelmed at this part. They include but are not limited to safety certificates, vaccine records, medical exams, uniform sizes and preview of your contract. If you are following our tutorial since the beginning, you should already have your passport, uniform size and vaccine records done so you can focus on other stuff, like your medicals or if required, safety certificates.
You will be required to do medical admission exams that are very specific for most cruise liners. Check out our page with the most common procedures by clicking here. Note: You can be eliminated from the hiring process if you fail these exams, so make sure you read more about them and follow the procedures.
Also, some companies will require you to acquire the Basic Safety Training certificate or STCW while you’re on land, although most cruise liners provide this training on board and for free. Don’t start this training before checking if the company will provide you on board or not, as it is very expensive in some countries. Read more about it and other safety certificates by clicking here.
After providing the company the requested documents, the hiring process will resume and after some days the company will follow up by providing you with more information on your status. At this point is also where the company will give more information about the final steps before boarding, like the airline tickets, hotel accommodations, letter of employment and if you’re required to apply for a VISA or not.
Some companies do not pay for the airline tickets and the candidate must pay them in full. If you need help searching for the best deals and prices, check out our page with deals by clicking here.
The hotel accommodations will be provided by the company if arrive in the port one day before the embarkation date, or the company will send instructions on how to reach the cruise terminal if you arrive on the same day.
The Letter of Employment is a very important document that you must print and take it with you (inside your passport) that will serve for immigration purposes. Also, it is the utmost required document if you’re applying for a VISA.
So if you’re applying for a transit visa, without the letter of employment you will not be able to confirm for the consul officials that you’re joining a ship on that specific date. Click here to read more about VISAs and how to apply for them, if needed.
THE FINAL STEPS:
What about the embarkation date? Well, if you received your Letter of Employment, in it has your embarkation date, but it might as well change. We know that every candidate that gets approved will embark, we just agree that that can happen in some days, weeks and sometimes months. Some people are needed on board and get sooner dates, some people rotate in a pool of available demand and take some months to finally be able to join a ship. As we say often for candidates, don’t rush and quit your current job before you know for sure that you will embark, or when.
What should I pack? Well, we got you covered as well. Click here to read more about how to pack your entire life in a suitcase.
Anything else that you should know? Sure, there are a bunch more stuff that we would like for you to know, but they’re not part of the selection process. Read more about other aspects of the #SHIPLIFE on our Knowledge Center, share your feelings or stories with other crew members on our social media and get help as well on our group on Facebook.
If you liked this tutorial and think that it might guide others as well, share within your Facebook friends, groups and family, post it on Twitter or Tumblr, spread the word on your English course. Who knows? You might find some friends to join with you.