Does the idea of exploring foreign lands and embracing fresh sea air sound appealing? How about the notion of performing the job you love and improving your practice? If this sounds like an attractive prospect, perhaps life working aboard a cruise ship is for you?
Working as a doctor, nurse or paramedic aboard a cruise ship is certainly a fascinating life. And while you can never be sure of where your next role will take you, it’s always advisable to equip yourself with the knowledge needed to make the most of your time away from home.
Every year, millions of travellers from across the globe choose a Mediterranean cruise, and it’s easy to see why. The region’s vast array of beauty spots have been attracting tourists for decades, while the sheer number of historical sites and cultural experiences are simply astounding.
Working on-board a Mediterranean cruise will likely see your ship travel to a number of noteworthy destinations. One day you could be cruising the waters of the Iberian Peninsula and exploring volcanoes in Italy the next.
If you’re assigned to cruise around the Mediterranean, there will be ample time to explore the region and its many wonders whilst you’re off duty. Your ship will stop at pristine beaches, iconic classical ruins and some of the world’s most celebrated cities and UNESCO world heritage sites.
There are two main cruise areas within the Mediterranean. The western Mediterranean is bordered by Spain, France and Italy’s west coast, and includes the picturesque islands of Sardinia, Corsica and the Balearics.
The eastern Mediterranean cruise area, meanwhile, covers the eastern coast of Italy, Greece, Cyprus, Croatia and Turkey. Many routes will typically include a plethora of gorgeous Greek islands and the stunning Adriatic/Dalmatian Coast, a region that is a major draw for history enthusiasts.
As a member of the ship’s crew, you may be entitled to a discount on excursions. This means that you are free to join the other passengers on guided tours and other activities at any designated stop. Be sure to speak to the ship’s event organiser who may be able to provide you with discounted tours, or point you in the direction of lesser-known areas, allowing you to maximise your time away from the ship.
Alternatively, you may want to escape the crowds and explore some hidden treasures for yourself.
Of course, with so many ports to visit in the Mediterranean, it can be difficult deciding which cities and regions you’d most like to visit during your downtime. Here are just a few of the best places to visit in the Mediterranean when you are off-duty.
Welcoming around eight million tourists every year, Barcelona is one of the most popular destinations for Mediterranean cruise-goers.
Renowned for its warm climate and charming culture, the city is home to many eye-catching buildings inspired by Catalan architect Antoni Gaudi, including La Sagrada Familia, Park Guell and Casa Mila.
The city is also a mecca for sports fans. The Camp Nou, home to the mighty FC Barcelona, will be top of any football fanatic’s checklist, while the Olympic Stadium (which hosted the Games in 1992) is also well worth experiencing.
Of course, no trip to Barcelona would be complete without a walk down the famous La Rambla, a lively, tree-lined street filled with souvenir shops, cafes and street performers. The Gothic Quarter, where you can explore the warren of alleyways, is also a must-see.
Widely hailed as one of the most beautiful cities in Europe, Rome boasts an abundance of culture, not to mention some of the most instantly recognisable landmarks in the world.
The Colosseum, a feat of ancient Roman architecture, is one of the major draws for tourists visiting the Eternal City, while the Pantheon, Trevi Fountain and Spanish Steps are all well worth visiting.
You can even venture out of Italy without ever leaving the city walls. The independent city-state of Vatican City, home of the Pope, attracts people from around the globe. Points of interest include St. Peter’s Basilica and the Sistine Chapel.
The Principality of Monaco sits on the sun-kissed French Riviera and is renowned as being a destination for the rich and famous.
The microstate is home to beautiful harbours, luxurious hotels and high-end casinos, including the grand Casino Monte-Carlo, a haven for high-rollers and big dreamers determined to break the bank.
Of course, if you’d prefer to explore, the streets of Monaco offer an exciting, multi-coloured maze, while the harbour is a yacht-filled wonder.
Built on more than 100 small islands in a lagoon in the Adriatic Sea, Venice is unlike any other city in the world.
With its stunning architecture and rich history, the city oozes opulence. From the beauty of Piazza San Marco to the grandeur of the Doge’s Palace, Venice is certainly a destination fit for those who embrace the finer aspects of life.
The city is well-known for its series of timeless canals which run throughout the quaint, narrow streets, while the Grand Canal, Venice’s main thoroughfare, intersects the city and is lined with spectacular Gothic and Renaissance palaces.
Away from the city centre, the islands of Sant’Erasmo, San Michele and Lido – best known for hosting the Venice International Film Festival in the late summer – provide a welcome change from the hustle and bustle of the often crowded tourist areas.
Mediterranean weather can vary depending on your location and the time of year. If you start your cruise ship medical role during the spring and summer months, it’s worth remembering that the climate is likely to be warm, so pack appropriately.
However, if you’re travelling during the winter months, the climate may not be as tropical. It is advisable to take waterproof clothing, just in case any of your excursions take place during rainy weather.
Once you have been assigned a cruise ship, it is advisable to research the local climate throughout the season.
While the majority of countries within the Mediterranean accept Euros, be sure to check where you will be docking before you step aboard.
France, Italy, Greece, Monaco, Portugal and Spain all use the Euro, however, countries such as Albania (lek), Croatia (kuna) and Turkey (lira) do not. The latter also applies for North African nations.
If you’d prefer not to carry cash, most banks can provide you with an online account and credit card for travellers. Most cards will offer protection on your purchases and a low exchange rate.
If the idea of practicing around the world appeals to you, why not find out more about the wide range of cruise ship jobs we have to offer? Complete the short form below or contact our team via email to register your interest.
You can also discover what living and working as a doctor, nurse or paramedic aboard a cruise ship is like in our handy guide.
Eager to learn more about different cruise destinations? Read about Australia and New Zealand cruises.
Medacs Healthcare Partners with The Joyful Doctor to Offer Self-Help Webinar
Medacs Healthcare Continues Work with Cavell Nurses’ Trust
Life As A PIP Assessor: Interviews With Three Nurses
Reflecting on a Global Pandemic - A Month in the Life of a COVID-19 Agency Nurse