So, a lot of people are surprised to hear that I was able to earn 4 Degrees during the first 6 of my 10 years at sea.

  • Outdoor Recreation Parks and Tourism Honours Degree with a Specialization in Leadership
  • Geography B.A.
  • English B.A.
  • Education Degree

In actual fact, during those first 6 years at sea, while I was still in school, I was onboard about 4-6 months of the year, working on cruise ships.

So, how was this possible?

Answer: Seasonal openings with a variety of cruise lines.

Most positions onboard require crew to commit to a 6+ month contract. However, a few cruise lines offer seasonal or short term options in the following roles;

  • Seasonal Youth Activities Staff
  • Seasonal Youth Security
  • Nursing/Dr. roles

Now, I definitely didn’t perform any nursing or doctor related duties. However, I did spend the first 6 of my 10 years at sea as Youth Activities Staff and Youth Security Team Member. I then moved to my full time and permanent roles as Training Manager and later,  Human Resources Manager, during my last 4 years onboard.

What is a Seasonal Youth Activities Staff?

A seasonal youth activities team member goes onboard during high volume times in order to aid the permanent youth staff (6 month contractors) with the facilitation of child & youth programming.

When are high volume (kid) times?

Usually during school break periods; Summer, Thanksgiving (Canadian and American), Christmas, New Years, Spring Break & Reading Break (March, April, May).

Really, there are opportunities to join a ship as a seasonal youth staff member almost every month of the year from 2 weeks up to about 12 weeks at a time.

What is a Seasonal Youth Security Team Member?

There are only two cruise lines that I know of that have this role; Princess Cruises and P&O Australia.

There are no permanent Youth Security Team Members, as this is a seasonal role only.

Youth Security come on during high volume times (same as noted above) and provide an extra presence on deck. They ensure that the youth/teens, that are not participating in the kids/youth/teen programs, are behaving themselves in public areas.

Youth Security primarily work during the evenings starting between 5pm and 7pm and work until about 2-3 am.

It sounds like a long shift, however, most of that time is spent just wandering around the ship with your partner, chatting to kids, having dinner, having a coffee and waiting to be called by the pursers desk or the main security team regarding things like noise complaints, etc. These calls don’t usually come in until about 10pm onwards.

Seasonal Nursing and Doctor Roles

I am not very familiar with these seasonal options, as all the lines that I worked hire only long term medical staff (min commitment of 4 months on and 2 months off). However, there are some lines that hire short term medical staff. For example, Holland America. If you are a certified nurse with ER experience and or a Doctor with ER experience and are looking for seasonal options then I would recommend contacting Holland America directly.

Back to Me:

So, it was because of my ability to go onboard during seasonally busy times for the ships that I was able to complete all of my university courses and still get out to sea every summer (4 months during my uni. breaks), Thanksgiving, Christmas & New Years (usually this would be a min of a 4 week contract) and Reading/Spring Breaks.

It truly was an amazing experience to not only have confirmed employment every single one of my university breaks, but also get to travel the world and get PAID to do it! This was especially great during the summer, as I had next to no living expenses while onboard and as such was actually able to SAVE quite a bit for the following year’s university expenses.

How Can You Get A Youth Related Seasonal Job Onboard?

1. For all roles onboard you will need to meet the min. age of majority; 21 or over.

2. For Youth Staff

  • You will usually need a minimum of 1-2 years of experience with youth or teens in a large organizational setting such as a daycamp, summer camp, boys & girls club, YMCA etc.

3. For Youth Security

  • Again, you will usually need a minimum of 1-2 years of experience with youth or teens in a large organizational setting such as a daycamp, summer camp, boys & girls club, YMCA etc. You will also need some experience working with youth-at-risk or in a related field.

Finally, for those of you who are interested in obtaining a youth staff role, and who are in the process of obtaining a teaching degree, you may want to think about the option to potentially move your way up to an onboard Training Manager position. This role is responsible for providing training to crew, staff and officers onboard including ‘Company Mandated Training’ as well as ‘Professional Development Training.’ Cruise lines often look for individuals with a background in the following areas for this role; past cruise ship experience as well as an adult education/training and or a teaching background. Something to think about for sure as a progressional option.

I hope that this information has been helpful to you.

Don’t forget to check out my ‘How the Heck to Get a Job on a Cruise Ship’ guide for comprehensive information regarding;

  • How to apply to ALL major cruise lines & concessions
  • Employment links
  • Step-by-step instructions

Feel free to contact me should you have any questions!

Happy Sailing








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