Working Your Way Out to Sea

By Kathryn Marchi

In the past, one of the most frustrating things about being a “senior” citizen was the fact that we have so much experience and knowledge and no one wants to hear it!

In today’s world, however, the number of seniors has risen to the point that they are a force to be reckoned with. Let’s face it, we are a big business. Finally we are being recognized with discounts on food, products and services. Active adult communities, continuing care facilities, senior centers and assisted living housing have popped up everywhere. Treatment of patients in nursing homes is now being carefully monitored and seniors in general are more respected and recognized. There are so many opportunities for seniors out there and here is just one of them:

The cruise business has become hugely popular over the years. Who doesn’t like a cruise ship to exotic places? But many times the expense of such a vacation is prohibitive, forcing seniors to miss this experience. That’s where seniors’ employment on a cruise ship comes into play.

Cruise lines already provide continuous onboard entertainment and activities that require professionals such as dancers, singers and musicians.  But on a daily basis, they plan lectures and classes of all types to keep passengers active and interested. Who better to provide skills for some of these than a knowledgeable senior?

Think about these potential positions:

•Onboard Lecturer —  If you are suitably qualified in a field such as art, photography, fashion, astronomy, computers or a language specific to the cruise destination, just to name a few, you could be hired as an onboard lecturer.  Even American sign language is popular on cruise ships.

•Arts and Crafts Teachers — Perhaps your hobby is knitting, scrapbooking or calligraphy. You could share those or another interesting hobby as an onboard teacher. By all means, let the cruise ship know your particular specialty as the company is always looking for fresh ideas.

•Dance Host – Apparently this is a most popular job onboard a ship. Qualified single men are always needed to dance with the scores of single ladies onboard.

George and Mary, friends of ours, actually worked on cruise ships and I asked them to share their experiences. It all started when they were walking past a computer class on one of their cruises. George, having worked extensively with computers, stopped to listen and said, “I can do that.” After asking the instructor how to get a job like this, he was directed to a “third party,” a computer-specific website. Thus began a series of communications that included lesson plans, a trial teaching on Skype, and a trip to Florida to “try out” for the job. At first, Mary went along for the ride. She was a teacher, but not as computer-savvy as her husband. However, they both were hired;  Mary, to teach, and George to deal with technical issues and snafus.

After receiving a list of cruise line openings, they began their seagoing employment. Compensation included room and board, half-priced drinks and onshore excursions. They were treated as crew, wearing the ship’s uniform and were invited to attend the captain’s happy hours in order to promote their classes. Incidentally, they worked only on sea days and the destination dictated how busy they were. What a great way to enjoy a cruise and share your expertise at the same time.

These aren’t the only folks I know who have worked while on a cruise:  One gal, a painter, secured a job and taught watercolor classes. Another friend who is a freelance writer, wrote an article about the cruise she was taking and was compensated by an upgrade in accommodations. You may have a skill or hobby that would land you a job onboard ship as well.

If you are interested in pursuing this line of work, Google “Cruise Ship Jobs for Senior Citizens.”  Or click on and take a look at the ebook, How To Work on a Cruise Ship by Derek Baron, an ex-cruise tour manager. You can also sign up at to see what jobs are actually available. If all else fails, contact the cruise line of your choice directly or simply Google “short-term guest positions” on cruise lines. Asking teachers onboard the ship, as George did, can also get you started on your job.

Cruise ships can take us to exotic places that we might not be able to access by car or bus in an acceptable time frame. Why not take advantage of this type of travel and cut costs by sharing your knowledge and experience with other passengers? Think of the places you could go!

Kathryn and her husband enjoy cruising when not traveling in their RV. On their last cruise, Kathryn researched and wrote an article on preventing illness onboard a cruise ship. (See 2015 Spring edition of OUTLOOK BY THE BAY online at


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