Cruise Director – Cruise Ships Career Opportunities

Career Profile

Duties: Overseeing passenger services for cruise passengers during a voyage, including social activities and entertainment; handles both onboard and offshore programmes.

Alternate Title(s): None

Salary Range: Approximately $5800 – 7500  per month and up

Employment Prospects: Fair to good

Advancement Prospects: Fair to good

Best Geographical Location(s): Any locations that cruise ships sail, including the Caribbean, the Atlantic/Pacific coast, Alaska, the Mediterranean, and more


Education and Training—Varies tremendously; performing arts/hospitality background helpful Experience—Prior cruise ship experience as an assistant cruise director, social host/hostess, performer, or other role

Special Skills and Personality Traits—Highly social and outgoing; desire to entertain and be in the spotlight/public eye; ability to speak more than one language helpful; excellent leadership skills and high energy; strong public speaking, communications, and interpersonal skills

Career Ladder

Cruise Director, larger ship or hospitality/entertainment position outside of cruise lines

Cruise Director

Assistant Cruise Director

Position Description

Vacationers go on cruises to relax and get away from it all. They expect a certain level of accommodation, food, and activities on a cruise. Furthermore, due to the nature of cruise vacations, they anticipate being entertained.

Cruise Directors are responsible for ensuring that guests have a good time. They lead and organise daily recreational activities ranging from wine tastings and magic shows to karaoke and trivia games. They plan these activities with their assistants to ensure that guests always have something to do on the ship and offshore.

Cruise Directors must understand the demographics of their passenger base and what types of programming this group needs and wants when working with their team of staff to develop programming that meets the unique needs of passengers. Itineraries and activities may change depending on the number of guests. The Cruise Director must be aware of these developments and plan accordingly. Indeed, Cruise Directors claim that each voyage is a unique experience based on the passenger group and the dynamics on board.

Furthermore, various cruise lines are known for catering to various clientele. Some are known as “party ships,” while others are more sophisticated. Depending on the nature of the ship and what the Cruise Director is expected to accomplish, cruise lines frequently have very different requirements for their Cruise Directors.

Cruise Directors plan daily activities and generally generate excitement and enthusiasm for the ship’s offerings while on board. They may schedule lecturers, performers, variety shows, and other programming, as well as develop ideas and hire employees. Cruise Directors act as masters of ceremonies for events, announcing programmes during meals and shows and supervising all loudspeaker announcements.

When it comes time to disembark at the cruise line’s featured destinations, Cruise Directors make money by selling tour packages to passengers. They inform passengers about the various excursions available at each port—snorkeling, shopping, ATV riding, and so on—and how they can sign up for these tours. Cruise lines collaborate with these tour companies to ensure that both parties profit.

Cruise Directors must also be experts both on and off the ship. They know their ships inside and out and can advise passengers on activities for every hour of the day to suit their mood. To assist passengers with itineraries, Cruise Directors must be knowledgeable about each port destination, including activities, currency, and more.

Additional duties may include:
  • liaising with other cruise department heads to coordinate social programming
  • developing policies and procedures for social activities and programs
  • overseeing production shows, variety shows, musicians, lectures, and activities, and establishing guidelines for improvement
  • developing social budget proposals and recording expenditures
  • managing and maintaining departmental finances within budgetary requirements
  • leading passengers through safety demonstrations
  • providing a disembarkation lecture
  • working with vendors in the various ports
  • performing in various shows and events
  • attending VIP and other passenger functions and cocktail parties/receptions
  • developing a contingency plan for rainy day activities
  • producing a daily newsletter of activities

Cruise Directors on large ships are frequently assisted by assistant cruise directors and social hosts/hostesses. They also collaborate with entertainers, youth counsellors, stage managers, and other personnel and departments to plan and coordinate activities.

When the ship is in motion, the work of a Cruise Director continues around the clock. As a result, most jobs are on a six-month or other type of contract, such as four months on, six weeks off. However, most Cruise Directors enjoy their jobs because they allow them to be in the spotlight, perform and entertain others, and travel the world.


The salary for Cruise Directors ranges from $5,800 to $7,500 per month, depending on the cruise line. Earnings can vary greatly based on the experience of the Cruise Director as well as the size of the cruise line.

Employment Prospects

For Cruise Directors, job prospects are fair to good. All cruise ships require them, but competition for those on desirable ships is fierce. The positions are contract-based, usually for six months or less, and many people do not stay in their jobs for more than a few years. Cruise Directors are typically promoted from within, having previously worked as assistant cruise directors, disc jockeys, onboard entertainers, hosts/hostesses, and other jobs.

Advancement Prospects

While Cruise Directors typically report to the onboard hotel manager and entertainment directors, they are usually interested in a variety of advancement opportunities. Cruise Directors may move to larger and more prestigious ships/cruise lines, or they may choose options that allow them to travel to different parts of the world. Others may leave cruise ships to pursue careers as actors/actresses, dancers/musicians, or in other hospitality fields.

Education and Training

The path to becoming a Cruise Director begins with positions on the ship’s staff, such as a host or hostess who greets and mingle with guests. A job as an assistant cruise director would be ideal preparation because it would provide extensive training while working with passengers and learning the ropes firsthand. The Cruise Director is frequently an entertainer who appears several times during a voyage in various capacities. As a result, experience in the entertainment and performing arts can be extremely beneficial.

While most Cruise Directors used to be musicians, performers, or other types of entertainers, today’s Cruise Directors come from a variety of backgrounds. Because no formal education is required, there are Cruise Directors with graduate degrees as well as those with only a high school diploma (though some job listings do require a bachelor’s degree). Hospitality courses and knowledge of foreign languages can be beneficial. Cruise Directors are trained on the job in the policies and procedures of their cruise line and ship.

Experience, Skills, and Personality Traits

Depending on the nature of the ship, different cruise lines look for different qualities in a Cruise Director, but all Cruise Directors must be outgoing and enjoy working with people. They have very little downtime on a voyage and must enjoy always being “on” and in the spotlight. Furthermore, Cruise Directors must be charismatic leaders who can naturally and humorously command the attention of large groups of people.

Furthermore, Cruise Directors require a lot of energy to motivate and entertain passengers. They must be excellent communicators and speakers, whether dealing with individuals or making announcements to larger groups. For supervising staff, cruise directors must be good leaders and managers with the ability to multitask.