Saturday, August 29, 2009

Can US Citizens Get Jobs on Cruise Ships?

I get asked this question alot....hmmmm, and the answer is of course!
Now if you have done some research on ship jobs, you already know many positions onboard are always reserved for crew members from specific countries around the world.
You will never see an American cleaning rooms, or serving in the officers mess or painting the ship, or serving in the main dining rooms, or working in the galley etc - get my drift?

You will however, see Americans in positions such as shops, casino, cruise staff, photogs, musicians, shore ex, pursers, computer officers, entertainment, and sometimes managing the newer boutique restaurants popping up on newer ships. As well, I do know cruise lines are trying to recruit Executive Chefs, Restaurant Managers from the US and Canada, UK etc.I know a guy from Vancouver BC who manages one of these smaller restaurants onboard Holland America - another guy from Colorado who who manages a boutique restaurant for Royal Caribbean.

If you are new to ships, you may try to work onboard the casino ships. They all employ US citizens in various capacities - especially if they are a US flagged vessel, in which case the are required to do so by law.

NCL has a brand called NCL America (one ship - Pride of America), whereby it sails around the Hawaiian Islands. The ship was constructed from a hull built in the US and flagged US so they did not have to conform to the Jones Act. (look it up)
Basically this (antiquated) law states that foreign flagged ships cannot begin and end their route in the us without stopping in a foreign port in between.

So, for example, ship sailing Alaska from Seattle, usually make a brief stop in Victoria, Prince George, Nanaimo, Campbell River (the requisite foreign port), in order to comply with the Jones Act.

Other cruise lines sailing the Hawaiian Islands would have to either cruise back to Ensenada Mexico or cruise for 2 days to Fanning Island, touch land, and then sail 2 days back to Hawaii, just to comply with the Jones act.

However, because the NCL America brand was flagged US, it can only employ US citizens in ALL positions onboard. As you can imagine, they have a difficult time finding US citizens willing to peform some of the jobs onboard. Here are the links for the Pride of America and its job site for US citizens.

3) Mina Yi;

Another company which hires US Citizens in all capacities is Cruise West based in Seattle. Here is a link to their job page.

"On the big ships, they fill all of the unskilled positions [kitchen and housekeeping] with cheap labor from foreign countries. That leaves far fewer jobs for Americans, and they usually want someone with special skills: dealers from Las Vegas casinos, performers through Hollywood talent agencies, fitness instructors with shoreside teaching experience, or hosts with tour guide experience."

This might sound discouraging, but cruise companies do vary in their hiring practices, and there are still plenty of jobs available on large cruise lines; you just need the right amount of persistence and determination. Furthermore, small, local companies tend to hire all-American crews. For the most part, non-English speaking employees work low-skill, low-paying positions such as kitchen staff, bedroom stewards, and janitorial positions. On many big-name cruise lines, these positions are filled almost exclusively with workers from Indonesia, the Philippines, India, Mexico adn Central American countries. Of these lower skill departments, each is further segregated by hiring primarily one nationality or another. For example, onboard P&O, the food service staff is almost all, but not entirely from India.

This form of discrimination has been around since the early 1900s, borne out of the Jones Act of 1886, a law forbidding foreign-flagged vessels from transporting passengers on one-way trips between ports in the United States. This law, intended to help the U.S. shipbuilding industry, proved to actually work against it. Registering a ship in the United States requires the ship to be built in the United States and staffed with an American crew. However, paying American wages and complying with U.S. employment regulations is extremely expensive compared to using employees from developing countries, who will perform the same work for a fraction of the pay demanded by North Americans. Foreign countries also subsidize their cruise shipbuilding industry, while the United States does not. As a result, almost all major cruise lines use ships built in Germany, France, and Italy, and then register them in countries imposing less onerous requirements on employers, such as Liberia and Panama. Some cruise lines even maintain recruiting and training facilities in places like Indonesia and the Philippines.

But there are still some US only companies out there - usually smaller ships but good for first time experience. Here are 2 links. They show you which companies are US flagged.