Tag Archives: Guide-to-working-on-a-cruise-ship

Marc Walker Cruise Director

Cruise People – Marc Walker – Royal Caribbean

What’s Life Like For A Cruise Director?

I recently had the opportunity to meet Marc Walker who is currently the Cruise Director onboard Royal Caribbean’s Independence of the Seas. I’ve always thought it would be such a great job to do, but after speaking to Marc in person, I think I’ll stick to sipping cocktails by the pool while someone else does all the hardwork.

How long have you been a Cruise Director?

I was promoted to Cruise Director in January 2001 after being with the company for 4 years. This is my 22nd year with Royal Caribbean, 17 of them as Cruise Director.

How did you end up working onboard Royal Caribbean ships?

I was a DJ back in England, and when I worked at Butlin’s I met people who worked for Royal Caribbean. At that time there were only 12 ships in the fleet, and there was no no such thing as the internet. So it was purely word of mouth and sending resumes off. A juggler, who still works for us, told me to apply to Royal Caribbean as a DJ. I had never heard of Royal Caribbean, I said Royal who? This was in England and they weren’t even in England at that point, they were just sailing out of the Caribbean. So I got a job interview in London, I was offered the job as cruise staff which is what you do. You call bingo and you socialise, you start at the bottom. My first ship was the Viking Serenade in 19 July 1996.

1996 Marc’s first contract as cruise staff, with Fernando Castro on Viking Serenade

How long do you spend onboard the cruiseship at a time?

We usually do four months on two months off, but depending on business needs or if you have a holiday request it can be longer or shorter. I am doing four months on here then I am going to take only five days off, then I go to our bigger ship the Harmony of the Seas. At the end of the year I’ll be going to our brand new ship the Symphony of the Seas and will take the ship to Miami for the Inaugural Christening.

Do you get to see your family at all when you are working?

Never when I am working because my wife and two kids live in Florida. But they are going to be cruising at the end of November for a one off cruise. Lily will be in school and she is five, so she can only come a few times a year. But they usually have to wait until I get home, which will be January for five days.

I keep reading on social media that you are Roy ‘Catchphrase’ Walker’s son. Is this true? 

I’ve actually met Roy, he does a few comedy shows onboard. He is really nice but I am not related despite the same name.

What is the average Day In The Life for you when you are at work?

8 o’clock every morning my day starts, that’s seven days a week and I usually take a couple of hours off in the afternoon. We call it international nap time where crew members have to sleep for a couple of hours in the day. Then my shift starts again at 4pm until midnight or 1 o’clock in the morning. So 8am until about 1 or 2pm is paperwork and meetings, then the evening is shows, socialising, being out there.

Have you met any Celebrities onboard, and if so can you give us some names?

John Travolta came onboard once. We looked after him for 4 days. He is a really nice man. And Donny Osmond in 2004.

What is your favourite meal onboard?

I should eat salads but I don’t. On this ship I like the roasts because you don’t get them in America. So I go to the Windjammer and have my roasts whenever I can. And then when I go Stateside I just have to have the Mongolian stir fry.

What is your favourite port of call?

Geiranger Fjords.

Do you have any hobbies?

I do flight simulator. I have the joystick, the yoke and the foot pedals and I bring them with me. So I do transatlantic flights when I go to bed at night, and when I wake up I’m landing (laughs). Its very soothing. It sends me off.

Your job is very demanding. Do you have any tips you can share that help you stay energetic, healthy and in shape?

You have to pace yourself especially at my ripe old age of 46. It gets harder the older you get and the ships are getting bigger which is harder to handle, harder to manage. So it’s all in the mind. You can get so stressed out so quickly and it will kill your career. You just have to really take a step back, focus on what the most important things are and then keep everything in a waiting file, don’t do everything at once. But the most important thing is being out there with the guests. If you’ve got that covered then everything else will follow. But we have two jobs, we have administration and we have front of house. There’s no job like it, you have to be good at everything.

If you could do any other job, what would it be?

Television. I actually have a part time job with Home Shopping Network it’s QVC. So when I’m in Florida for a few weeks I tell them I’m coming and they give me a couple of shows. I love it because you are on live television to 97 million people.

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WOULD YOU LOVE TO WORK ON A CRUISE SHIP?

HОW TO GET WORK ON A CRUISE SHIР

I have lost count of the number of times people have asked me to do a blog about how to get work on a cruise ship. It’s no insiders secret but I guess when you have so many agencies online it can be daunting. If you have read my post about my journey in the industry, you will know how much I loved every minute of it. So here is a guide to avoid the scammers and improve your chances of a life at sea.

Cruise line or Agency?

When it comes to finding work on a cruise ship, there are a number of things that you can do to increase your chances of success. It is a competitive industry and anything you can do to help with that dream job should be considered. One thing you can do is get an agency to help you find a job, especially if you are looking to work as part of the entertainment team.

Because of the high volume of job applicants, cruise lines use agencies to help them find the best candidates. They will interview the applicants and do all the hiring on behalf of the cruise line. They will also get your cv up to a high standard to maximise your potential.

Agencies make their money by earning a commission when you start working, so their goal is to get you that job. They also have the contacts to make things happen, and they will probably know the right people to approach to find you the work. This is a huge advantage for someone just starting off in the business.

You can also send an application directly to the cruise line. There are some useful links at the end of this post. If you do decide to use an agency, make sure you use the ones that don’t charge you an fees upfront as they will receive a commission from the cruise line when they have secure you a job on a cruise ship.

A Smile Goes A Long Way

One thing you must do to increase your chance of getting your dream job is to include a photograph with your cv. This always goes down well with the cruise lines as it offers something a little bit extra, especially if you are applying for a position that is front of house. A warm genuine smile goes a long way. You would be surprised by the number of people who do not send a photo, so give yourself the best chance of success and include one in your application.

It does not have to be a professional photograph. As long as it is a pleasant photograph that shows you looking smart and smiling, that is all they are looking for. After all, you will be representing the brand as a crew member, so look at it from their point of view.

What Sort of Work on a Cruise Ship Can I Do?

There are so many different jobs to choose from, with so many ships at sea these days. For instance, certain cruise lines will have more entertainment jobs, whereas others will have more hotel services positions available.

Obviously you will be working, but you will also be traveling. To spend as much time ashore as possible, work out schedules with your fellow co-workers. It may sound like a daunting task, but trust me its not a big deal and can be sorted out fairly simply. Some departments get to make their own schedule. Casinos and shops are not allowed to open while in port so if you work in one of those areas you will have more opportunity to get off the ship.

Websites To Apply For Work On A Cruise Ship

Royal Caribbean Shipboard Careers

Carnival Careers At Sea

MSC Cruises Careers

Recommended Reading

You can read my interviews with Marc Walker, Cruise Director for Royal Caribbean and Lee Mudkins, Guest Relations Manager for Fred Olsen, to get an idea of their day to day life.

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