Cruise and cargo shipping career opportunities


Today, shipping is a labor-intensive industry. Career opportunities in the sector are enormous, especially in cruise lines. Once you get qualified and join the shipping industry to make a career you get the opportunity to travel the world over and also get paid for it.

Cruise ships are used to holiday. The ship itself becomes the destination as it ‘cruises’ through different ports spanning across different countries and different itineraries. Passengers can visit their places of interest and return to the ship before it sails off to the next port.

We may call a cruise ship a ‘floating seven star hotel’. It’s like a retreat on a 500 meter vessel with a capacity of nearly 2000 odd passengers, holding aloft jogging tracks, about 16-floor decks, bars, pools, Spas, theatres, cinema halls and what not. Therefore with so many services required on the luxury ship there are several career opportunities for qualified and skilled personnel.

The ship runs a gamut of roles that draws in dining room staff, fitness instructors, photographers, florists, tour coordinators, entertainers and stage crew, hairdressers, medical staff, front desk clerks, kitchen crew, money exchange tellers, children’s activity supervisors, casino and bar staff, plumbers, electricians nearly 1,100 or more crewmen attending to the passengers.

Career for everyone on cruise line:

Like any other organization, cruise line has an internal progression system. You could have a career as executive chef / sous chef / chef de parties. There are positions for restaurant managers and food and beverage managers. Low down on the hierarchy you have restaurant stewards, bar stewards, bartenders and assistant bartenders. On the house keeping side, you have executive housekeepers, assistant housekeepers and cabin stewards.

Diploma in catering is the prerequisite to get into the hotel department. Experience in five-star hotels is mandatory.

Cargo shipping:

In terms of operations, cargo shipping is probably the industry that is genuinely global in scope. Trade never comes to a stop, despite changes in economic, political or geographical factors.


In case of cargo shipping, personnel on board are broadly categorized into: Deck, Engine and Saloon. The deck and engine could be broadly divided into officers and crew. The officers on the deck side, involved in navigational duties, have a hierarchy starting from deck cadet, third officer, second officer, chief officer, master / captain while the crew hierarchy starts from ordinary seaman, able bodied seaman and master of the crew in the rating category.

On the engine side the officer hierarchy starts from electrical officer, fifth engineer, fourth engineer, third engineer and second engineer. Chief engineer is the highest in the hierarchy in the engine side. The crew hierarchy is: wiper, fitter and oilier in ascending order. Chief cook and stewards or service boys are part of the saloon.

Opportunities Galore:

There are opportunities aplenty in shore based jobs. One could have a career in fields such as fleet management, transportation management, warehouse management and inventory management.

This is demand for marine underwriters who are involved in valuation of ships for insurance purposes. Shipping being an industry dependent on various economic and political factors needs continuous tracking, analysis and forecasting. This is where shipping business analysts get involved. Then there are operations assistant who monitors voyage of ships and ensures seamless performance of a contract. On board are trainee shipbrokers, and assist shipbrokers, considered as the lifeline of the shipping industry.

Shipping being a global industry operates such that Charterers and shipping companies belong to completely different and distant locations. In such a scenario shipbrokers act as a link between chatterers and shipping companies and considered vital for the smooth operations of the industry.

You have the custom handling agents and freight forwarders who take care of the commercial aspect of shipping. Adequate knowledge in custom laws and procedures is the key to handling these functions. Their role is to clear all goods and complete formalities thereby aiding delivery to the ultimate importer . In case of exporters, their service is related to documentation and exports of cargo including booking of containers slot on the vessel.

Logistics necessitates training to achieve specialized skill sets. Introduction of specialized courses at various business schools, including the IIM, stand testimony to this.

A B.E / B.Tech in automobile engineering qualifies one for a fleet manager. Logistics managers, warehouse managers and inventory managers are by and large management graduates with a specialization in operations of transportation management.

Salary scales at sea are much more rewarding as compared to equivalent employment in other industries. International travel and exposure act as additional features. The salary scales in the industry range from Rs.100,000 and Rs. 400,000 per month, depending on the rank and years of experience.