Why becoming a cruise ship nurse might be the job for you

If you love to travel, meet new people and make decent money, it’s time to hit the high seas

Cruise ships aren’t just for vacations. For those who long for the open sea, becoming a nurse on one of the numerous floating cities might be a good career option.

Don’t expect to join the Love Boat right out of school, however. Most cruise ships are looking for registered nurses with at least three years of experience in acute settings, including emergency, urgent care or intensive care. And you’ll need to be certified in advanced, cardiac and pediatric life support before joining a crew.

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You’ll also need a valid passport, since you’ll likely be traveling to other countries, and a U.S. C1/D visa if you aren’t a U.S. or Canadian citizen. Applicants who know more than one language might be at an advantage, according to nurse.org.

Beyond that, the cruise lines have individual requirements as well:

Holland America Line, part of Carnival — which is now hiring for Princess Cruise Lines, Holland America Lines, Seabourn, and P&O Australia — lists:

  • Verbal and written fluency in English, both conversational and technical
  • Computer literacy and experience with Microsoft Windows and Microsoft 365 productivity suite
  • Experience with the use of electronic health records is preferred
  • Outstanding interpersonal, customer service and communication skills
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Although you can expect to work odd shifts — ships are a 24/7 operation — there are also perks that come with job. In addition to discounts at the onboard shops and spa, you’ll have free access to the gym and crew welfare program. When you’re not working, you can take in a show or enjoy the ship’s other amenities.

Don’t expect a room with a view, but you’ll have a single cabin with a private bathroom, so don’t worry about having a roommate.

The salary for cruise ship nurses is nothing to sneeze at either. ZipRecruiter lists an average salary of $81,396 a year. Glassdoor lists an estimated yearly base pay of $97,894 for Royal Caribbean nurses.

Nurse.org notes that contract conditions are based on cruise line and experience, and first-time nurses probably will earn less than that.

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