Medacs Healthcare

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Living and Working on a Cruise Ship

Table of contents

  1. Welcome Aboard
  2. Roles and Responsibilities
  3. Good to Know
  4. What to Consider
  5. Daily Life
  6. Requirements
  7. Contact Us

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1. Welcome Aboard

Welcome to Medacs Healthcare's guide to living and working on board a cruise ship. If you have always wanted to travel the world whilst doing the job you love, this is your chance to discover what life working on a cruise ship is really like for doctors, nurses and paramedics.

We have a wide range of exciting roles available for doctors, nurses and paramedics, each boasting flexibility, a handsome salary and the chance to treat people from varying walks of life. There's also the opportunity to participate in onshore excursions and travel around the world, exploring regions others can only dream of visiting.


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2. Roles and Responsibilities

As a healthcare professional working aborad a cruise ship, you'll get the opportunity to visit some of the world's most incredible destinations such as America, Australia, the Caribbean and the Mediterranean. And if that's not enough, you'll be paid to do so.

What is the role of a cruise ship healthcare professional?

As part of the medical team, you will work in a well-equipped shipboard medical department. Within this diverse and welcoming environment, you will work as part of a team of skilled medical professionals, making full use of your medical knowledge as you deliver patient-centric, evidence-based healthcare to guests and crew.

What are the responsibilities of a cruise ship healthcare professional?

Your primary responsibilities will depend on your role within the medical team. You ill be expected to care for patients suffering from a wide range of ailments and treat each in an efficient and time-sensitive manner.

You must be able to work both autonomously and as part of a team, supporting patients in their life aboard the ship.

Whilst aboard, you will learn and practice a range of technical skills, such as x-ray acquisition, and perform laboratory tests and other procedures.

As part of the medical team, you are expected to provide high levels of customer service while maintaining a professional, dignified, assertive, and polite manner at all times.

Furthermore, you will be required to participate in drills, audits, inspections and mandatory training. 

What makes working aboard a cruise ship so different?

Working aboard a cruise ship is an exciting and richly rewarding opportunity that requires you to operate in a small, tightly-knit team.

Working at sea is the perfect opportunity to explore the world whilst doing the job you love. You'll also be able to improve your practice as you work.

Expect far more hands-on and intimate interaction with your patients.


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3. Good to Know

We know that pursuing a role aboard a cruise ship is a big decision. That's why we've collated all of the information you need to make an informed decision about your potential career at sea.

Shifts and contracts

Shifts vary depending on your line of work. For more information, please consult the Living and Working Abroad guide relevant to your profession.

Typically, contracts last for four months. At the end of each four-month contract, you will take two months off before heading back out to sea to start a new contract.

Salary & benefits

As a healthcare professional working aboard a cruise ship, you can hope to receive between $4,000 and $9,000 (USD) per month, depending on your occupation. Wages are paid monthly and the company does not withhold any taxes from salary wages, except in the UK and US.

In addition, expenses such as accommodation, laundry, food and drink are covered.

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After securing your position, you will  need to complete a pre-boarding process. This will include all ship safety requirements.

You will be flown from your nearest international airport to an airport close to where the ship is docked. You'll then make your way to the port and board your new home.

Your position will be confirmed the day you join the vessel. Please note,  a start date might not be available even after you are ready to board, depending on allocated vacancies to new medical staff.

Once aboard, you’ll be shown around the shipboard medical centre and brought up to speed on how to operate any medical equipment with which you are unfamiliar. 


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4. What to Consider

At Medacs Healthcare, we aim to provide you with a true understanding of what life is like aboard a cruise ship. In this section, we will delve deeper into the pros and cons of life as a healthcare professional at sea.



While taking a job on a cruise ship isn’t exactly like a vacation, it does give you the chance to enjoy some unforgettable experiences during your downtime. On your days off, you are free to explore the various ports and enjoy some of the ship’s fantastic amenities.


All contracts are issued on a four-monthly basis, so if you’re looking for the flexibility of a short-term contract, or if you’re just not ready to settle down anywhere, this could be a fantastic opportunity for you.


Working on a cruise ship is a very exciting job where no two days are ever the same and you never know what to expect. There's also the added bonus of working within a small team which grants you far more autonomy and responsibility than you may receive from land-based roles.


You will have the opportunity to meet people from all around the world and treat people from different walks of life.


Working as a healthcare professional on a cruise ship does bring with it a handsome salary. You can hope to earn between $4,000 and $9,000 (USD) per month and expenses such as accommodation, laundry, food and drink are covered.

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Being away from home

You must be comfortable with being away for months at a time, something that isn’t appealing to everyone, especially if you have family ties or other responsibilities.

However, you may be able to apply for a travel companion or host family and friends on board at the discretion of the company.

Limited access at times

While you are allowed into most guest areas, limited exceptions do apply.

Despite this limited access, there are designated areas in which crew members can eat, drink and socialise away from guests.

Limited availability

Jobs for doctors, nurses and paramedics on cruise ships are in high demand, and you may find that the market is very competitive.

However, at Medacs Healthcare, we will manage the application process and help you to stand out from the crowd.

Work/life balance

You don’t get the luxury of clocking off and going home at the end of your shift. As you’re confined to the ship for the majority of the time, it can be difficult to switch off and maintain a good work/life balance.


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5. Daily Life

Working aboard a cruise ship certainly offers a lifestyle unlike any other. Learn more about the facilities on offer and how you can spend your downtime on the ocean waves.


All meals are free and served at set times with breakfast, lunch and dinner available in the staff dining rooms. You may be entitled to dine in guest restaurants to mark a special occasion or to have a special evening with a friend, however, this is subject to approval.

Spa & salon

Aboard the ship, there may be a designated spa and salon. If you fancy treating yourself, you can book appointments for hair and nails, as well as any other beauty or spa treatments. As a member of the ship’s crew, you’ll also receive a discount on these services, which will be explained to you once you’re on board.


Most ships have excellent health and well-being facilities. You are free to use these facilities in your downtime and on your days off. Most ships even have a selection of fitness classes available specifically for crew members.


You can enjoy a discount in the onboard shops. These shops are typically closed when the ship is in port and reopen once the ship has set sail. Also, there is often a crew shop which stocks basic toiletries and snacks.


Your uniform will be fully laundered every day. This is to ensure the highest standards of hygiene and personal appearance are maintained at all times.

There is also a crew laundrette on the ship, allowing you to do your laundry.

Shore excursions

If you are off duty when the ship arrives in port, you may be invited to take advantage of the exciting shore excursions that are offered to guests. This is a fantastic opportunity to socialise with guests, experience amazing destinations and gain valuable knowledge about the countries you are visiting.


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6. Requirements

To work aboard a cruise ship as a healthcare professional, there are certain requirements that you must meet.

All applicants must meet the following requirements:

  • Hold a valid accredited ALS/ACLS certificate prior to joining a vessel
  • Hold a valid passport
  • Eligibility to be issued a United States C1/D Visa (Not applicable for US and Canadian citizens)
  • Fluency in English, both conversational and technical - Mandarin and/or Japanese are also desirable
  • Computer literacy and experience with Microsoft Windows 7 (or higher) and Microsoft Office programmes
  • Experience with the use of electronic health records is preferable
  • Exceptional interpersonal, customer services and communication skills
  • A commitment to completing at least two four-month contracts within twelve months


All doctors must hold a medical degree and current registration and licensing with an appropriate governmental or national regulatory body. Applicants must also have at least three years’ postgraduate clinical experience in emergency medicine, acute care or ICU, and recent work experience in a clinical setting.


All nursing applicants must hold a registered nursing qualification and current registration and licensing with an appropriate governmental or national regulatory body. You must also have at least three years of postgraduate clinical experience in emergency medicine, acute care or ICU and recent experience in a clinical setting.


To become a cruise ship paramedic, you must hold an Advanced Life Support Paramedic Qualification (or equivalent) and be registered and licensed with an appropriate governmental or national regulatory body. Applicants must have at least three years’ postgraduate clinical experience in paramedicine, emergency medicine or other acute care settings, and recent experience in a clinical setting.


7. Contact Us

Interested in speaking to one of our cruise ship consultants? Simply complete the short form below and we will be in touch.




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