Cruise Industry Must Recruit 80,000 New Crew Per Year

Published in: Cruise News

Working at Sea

Today, the worldwide cruise industry employs an estimated 250,000 seafarers and will need to hire some 70,000 new crew and officers annually for turnover – to replace personnel that retires or leaves, plus another 10,000 or so annually to man the new ships being launched into service. That means 80,000 new crew and officers each year for the next decade.

This forecast represents huge job opportunities for the countries that supply crew, including the Philippines, Indonesia, India and Caribbean island nations, and for officers from Italy, the UK, the Netherlands, Germany, Norway, Sweden and Croatia among other countries.

In addition, new countries are being explored as source markets for crew, including Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam, as well as China.

The challenge is not only to find enough crew but also to ensure that they will perform in a shipboard environment and accept a new lifestyle at sea, working and living aboard with up to 40 or more different nationalities, as well as different cultures and religions.

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This requires language capabilities, job and skill training and the right attitude.

For officers it comes down to providing sufficient cadetships for training and then attractive and competitive terms including contract lengths and pay.

Another aspect of the job is that the cruise lines demand more than before: officers are continuously training in new technologies, environmental compliance and safety, while being responsible for up to 7,000 passengers and 2,500 crew on a single ship that cost well north of $1 billion to build.

Crew have to perform to higher standards as the cruise lines are promising better food, better entertainment and better service.

The demands do not come without preparation, however, both officers and crew are continuously training. And once they succeed on a cruise ship they can probably excel anywhere.

There are plenty of anecdotal stories about crew who have worked their way up to management positions and junior officers that have reached the ranks of captain or chief engineer. In some cases, they have also moved up in the ranks ashore as vice presidents of marine, technical. hotel and/or food and beverage operations.

The industry is also employing a relatively large percentage of women aboard, although the unions claim there should be room for more – not only in hotel service positions, but also as bridge or engine officers.

The bottom line is that officers and crew are key to the successful operation of cruise ships, not only do they perform the work necessary to operate the ships, they set the tone and the atmosphere aboard, and waiters, servers, bartenders and cabin stewards can make or break a cruise experience. These are the people that passengers interact with regularly and will remember when they go home.

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