Every year, thousands of people search how to apply for cruise ships and yachts, but less than 10% of all candidates fulfill the basic requirements. Companies around the world have different standards but these are the very basic ones that are required. If you don’t meet these it’s most likely that you’ll not be able to work on board.



You must speak english, even if your company is from Germany


Are you from an English speaking country? That’s great! If not, you must pass an english exam and achieve at least 70% proficiency for basic low level positions and over 90% for positions that have direct contact with passengers. Companies uses an online platform called Marlin’s Test and the certificate is accepted on every single cruise line in the world. It costs 20 USD and it doesn’t expire. Also, the companies have the right to test you at any time to confirm the proficiency level.


Some companies like AIDA, Phoenix and TUI target primary German passengers, while others like Dream Cruises target Chinese passengers. Even for those, you’re required to know english as well.

You must be in good health


Not only does the medical exam ensure the interest of the seafarer, but also the interest and responsibility of the cruise line. There are a few red flags that will lead to an “unfit” classification on a pre-employment medical. Having certain allergies or medication dependencies such as a necessity to carry an ‘epi-pen’ or the need to regularly use a preventative asthma inhaler may also deem you to be “unfit”. Additionally, a fitness certificate will not be issued if there is evidence of poor dental health.


Also be prepared for probing questions about alcohol use, failed relationships, homesickness, suicidal thoughts, ability to concentrate, and side effects of any medication. Physicians are assessing your psychological fitness which is also part of the exam.

You’re not there to cruise, but to WORK


The single most asked question is if the crew has days off. Well, it may shock you but the answer is “Absolutely not”. While working on cruise ships, most crew members work 10 hours a day, every single day, for the entire duration of the contract that can range from four to ten months.


Also, there will be times that you will not be allowed to leave the ship either because you have to work, or because there will be a drill and you must attend. Also, some nationalities are not allowed to ever leave the ship while docked on US ports.

Age requirements


If you’re over the age of eighteen but you’re under 21, well, you might consider waiting some years and invest in your personal skills before applying. Only two companies in the world (of over 50 cruise lines) accept candidates under the age of twenty-one. If you’re over 21 that’s great, you got what it takes!


One of our most asked questions is also if there’s an age limit. And yes, there is: Most cruise lines will allow you to work until the age of 65, but you have to be hired before you turn 50~55. There’s no company in the world that hires candidates over 55 years without previous cruise ship experience.

You must be able to leave home for at least six months


We get it, you like your family and would like to be near them all the time. This isn’t an option here, as cruises are expensive even with crew discounts. So you must be able to say goodbye and see you later to your family, friends, children, your fiancee and so on. Don’t worry, you can get new ones on board!


Truth is, while there’s a good population on board that works in order to save money or send money home for their families, the majority of people working on board isn’t really close with their blood relatives and loves the #SHIPLIFE because they have their own “home” on board, with a different family every contract, making friends for life along the way.