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Chapter 5 Who's who in cruising.

After reading this chapter, you'll be able to

* Explain what sea-based cruise staff do

* Relate the responsibilities of land-based management and staff

* Describe how travel agents are a vital link to the cruise sales process

* Explain how and where professionals learn about the cruise vacation experience

Ever wonder what it would be like to be part of the cruise industry? In this chapter we're going to explore three occupational areas that you could consider: sea-based operations, land-based operations, and the segment that sells over 90% of all cruises--the travel agency community.

Sea-Based Operations

You may be surprised to discover how many people work onboard a ship. Most vessels have at least one crew member for every three passengers. On some luxury ships, the ratio is closer to 1.5 to 1. The largest megaships may have more than 1,000 workers onboard.

Cruise lines divide operations onboard their ships into two broad categories: sailing operations and hotel operations. The captain is in charge of both operational sectors. He also attends certain social functions onboard so that passengers can get to know him better.

A team of officers supervises those factors that directly relate to the ship's sailing operations:

* The staff, deputy captain, or first officer is in charge when the captain is busy or not onboard (e.g., at a port). On large ships, the staff captain supervises a team of senior and junior officers. Among his or her special duties is overseeing ship safety and security.

* The chief engineer oversees all mechanical operations, including the engines, electrical systems, lighting, plumbing, waste management, onboard climate control, and the maintenance or repair of the ship itself. The larger the ship, the more specialist tradespeople work under the chief engineer.

* The chief medical officer, or doctor, tends to the health of passengers and crew. (All ships with 100 or more passengers onboard must have a doctor.) He or she may have a nurse and/or orderly to help out with medical concerns. (Medical services on a ship are not free of charge. Billings are handled as with any hospital or doctor's office.)

* In today's world, the responsibilities of chief radio or communications officer are complex. He or she oversees in-room satellite TV programming, ship-to-shore phone calls, Internet service, and all other shipboard communication systems.


The team of people who comprise hotel operations is equally diversified:

* The hotel manager, or hotel director (also sometimes called the chief purser), conducts his or her business very much like the manager of a land-based hotel or resort, but with a specialized understanding of the cruise experience. Prime areas of responsibility include guest satisfaction and comfort, human resources, security, expenditures, and revenues.

* The purser is much like a hotel front-desk manager or assistant manager. Unlike the hotel manager--who tends to larger operational issues--the purser administers day-to-day affairs. Some examples include management of passenger accounts, mail, messages, printing, the storing of valuables, and immigration and customs requirements. On larger vessels, the purser has two assistants: the crew purser (who treats crew issues) and the hotel purser (who tends to passenger matters). The purser may have a large team of assistants who staff the purser's desk, coordinate publications, deliver messages, and handle other concerns.

* The shore excursion manager orchestrates the operation and booking of port-based packages. On certain lines, he or she is sometimes called the concierge, with broader responsibilities such as booking customized port experiences, changing flights, etc. On larger ships, a team of people tends to shore excursions, including an onboard travel agent who can book a passenger's future cruise needs. (If a sale occurs, the passenger's travel agent usually will still get the commission for that sale.)

* The cruise director coordinates all entertainment and informational activities that take place as part of the cruise experience. Part host, part entertainer, gregarious, and always gracious, the cruise director serves as a critical link between passengers and crew. He or she presides over many functions, including passenger orientation and disembarkation meetings. The cruise director also manages the musicians, entertainers, onboard lecturers (experts who provide their services in exchange for a free cruise), social hosts (who converse and dance with single women onboard), health club staff, photographers, and, in some cases, the shore excursion manager.

* The executive chef controls the preparation and serving of all food and beverages. He or she supervises the assistant or sous chef, the pastry chef, food preparers, and other kitchen staff.

* The head housekeeper or chief steward manages all stateroom, public space, and other shipboard cleaning. He or she supervises a squad of cabin or room stewards who tend to the passengers' stateroom needs. (Cabin stewards have a much more active, personal, and round-the-clock relationship with guests than do maids at hotels.)

* The food and beverage manager oversees the serving of meals and drinks. (On smaller ships this may be handled by the executive chef.) The food and beverage manager watches over the dining room maitre d', table captains, waiters, and busboys. The food and beverage manager also oversees the bartenders, drink servers, and wine steward.

Responsibilities onboard a ship often overlap. The smaller the vessel, the more likely this is, especially when it comes to entertainment: The shore excursion director, the cruise director, and even the waiters may do double-duty as performers at the evening show. And on many ships, entertainers may serve in numerous other capacities. Note, however, that not all those working on a cruise ship are necessarily employees of the cruise line. (See Figure 5-1.)

Land-Based Operations

To summarize a cruise line's land-based operations is no easy task. Some cruise lines are relatively small, with fewer than 100 off-ship employees. Others are huge, with thousands of employees. What do they have in common?
FIGURE 5-1 Concessioners

To serve certain passenger needs, cruise lines contract with independent
concessioners, contractors, or vendors. This is often true with shore
excursion tour operators, onboard entertainer groups, onboard lecturers,
and port operations staff. Casino and beauty salon workers,
photographers, shop salespeople, and spa staff (e.g., aerobic
instructors or masseuses) may also be independent contractors.

Surprisingly, the layers of management are often similar. They parallel the standard structure employed in other North American corporations. (See Figure 5-2.)

Let's take a look first at the hierarchy of the typical large cruise line. At the top may be a chairman who presides over a board of directors. The chairman may be the principal or sole owner of the cruise line or may be responsible to the stockholders. He or she may also be referred to as the CEO, or chief executive officer. (Sometimes it's the president, not the chairman, who's referred to as the CEO.)

Reporting to the chairman and board is the line's president. He or she sets the company's direction in all areas: sales, marketing, operations, finance, and the like. Reporting to the president may be one or two executive or senior vice presidents.

In turn, there are a number of vice presidents, each with a set of responsibilities in a specific segment of the company's operations. A few possibilities:

* The vice president of marketing orchestrates the research, development, promotion, and follow-up of the cruise line's products.

* The vice president of sales oversees the actual selling of cruises, either through travel agencies or directly to the public. Below him or her are district sales managers (also called regional sales managers, district sales representatives, regional sales representatives, or by some other title--it depends on the cruise line), who are the spokespersons for the cruise line at trade shows and communicate with travel agents in their assigned geographic area. The vice president of sales is also in charge of the people who take calls from agents and clients, as well as those who supervise them.

* The vice president of finance administers and addresses all financial issues. If he or she is the company's CFO, or chief financial officer, he may well be a senior vice president.

* The vice president of operations or passenger services is responsible for all onboard and shore-side activities. This job is sometimes divided into two: a vice president of hotel operations (who manages shipboard hotel-type services) and a vice president of marine operations (who handles logistic and technical factors such as ship and port considerations).

* At very large cruise lines, a third vice president might be in charge of shore excursion tour companies that the line itself owns and of staff that checks in passengers at major embarkation and debarkation ports.

* The vice president of national accounts represents the cruise line to major agency chains, usually those in a preferred supplier relationship. (More about this soon.)

* The vice president of groups and incentives orchestrates all group sales, marketing, and operational activities.

Only the very largest cruise lines would have this many vice presidents. At smaller cruise lines, some positions might meld the functions of several vice presidents into one. Other lines might feel that the responsibility doesn't merit a vice presidency. The person in charge of, say, groups, might have a "lower" title (e.g., director).


What are the layers of management below that of vice president? As in the rest of the business world, they are, in order, director, manager, and supervisor.

A vice president might have one or two directors to oversee (or perhaps one assistant director who reports to a director). They in turn would have managers beneath them, the managers would have supervisors, and the supervisors would have staff.

One last point: At large cruise lines, district sales managers usually work exclusively for one cruise line. For smaller companies, the district sales managers may be independent, working for not only the cruise line but also for other, noncompeting suppliers, such as tour companies and tourist bureaus. These independent sales representatives are called multiline reps.

Travel Agencies

Why are travel agents so important to the cruise sales process? The reason is simple: Purchasing a cruise is a far more complicated matter than, say, buying an airline ticket.

A cruise isn't a commodity. It's an experience. All cruises aren't alike. To decide which cruise is the right one for a particular person is a complex and sensitive task, one that requires the analysis, advice, and experience of a professional travel agent. (That's why travel agents are often called travel counselors.)

People who purchase a cruise want to make sure that they'll fully enjoy and profit from it. They want one that will provide destinations, food, activities, entertainment, and an environment that matches their style. Perhaps they could do the research themselves and book the cruise directly (either by phone or the Internet) through the cruise line or some other sales entity. But wouldn't it be easier, quicker, safer, and perhaps cheaper to let an expert guide that choice? After all, cruises often cost thousands of dollars--they're investments, not transactions. And the cruise ship isn't just a way to get from Point A to Point B. It represents an experience, not a commodity.

Travel agents are therefore integral to the cruise sales process. Let's briefly explore how their industry operates.

The Travel Agency Business

About 28,000 travel agencies serve the North American market today, employing about 220,000 full-time and part-time travel counselors. The majority of them are full-service outlets, providing air, rail, car, lodging, tours, cruises, and other travel products.

At one time, commissions on air tickets fueled agency profitability. However, in 1996 the airlines began a series of steps to severely cap the amount of commissions an agency could earn from selling air travel. Eventually, most airlines eliminated commissions altogether (except for very large agency chains). Since then, many travel agencies have treated air sales as "loss leaders." They've begun charging fees for their services and have redirected their efforts to selling cruises, tours, and all-inclusive resorts. The reason: These products are comprehensive packages, yielding commissions on virtually everything that a client does while on vacation. Cruises generally require only one phone call or computer entry in order to book. A cruise produces extremely high satisfaction in clients, helping to ensure loyalty and repeat business. And most cruise lines treat travel agents as valued partners in the sales process. No wonder agents love selling cruises.


Kinds of Travel Agencies

Here are the kinds of travel agencies that are likely to sell cruises:

* Independent agencies. These agencies are privately owned and unaffiliated with any larger institution. Often called mom & pops, they're the "corner store" of travel retailers, usually with small staffs and a keen sense of the communities they serve. However, independent agencies have limited economic leverage with suppliers and often find it a challenge to negotiate higher override commissions and preferred status.

Yet some independent agencies have flourished in the current competitive business environment. Their strategy: Focus on specialized travel products, establish a reputation for excellence, operate superefficiently, and/or provide a high level of personal service. This is no easy task, however, so the number of mom & pop agencies--once the mainstay of the travel agency industry--has slowly diminished. Currently they represent less than 35% of all travel agencies.

* Agency chains. As with most other retail industries, large groups of regionally or nationally branded agencies have developed in North America. Some embrace a dozen or more locations in a defined geographic area. Others count hundreds in their organization. Still others--usually called mega-agency chains--have a thousand or more.

Many of these chains have well-known names, creating public recognition and inspiring buyer confidence. Their size and reputation provide them with economic clout, too. It permits them to negotiate favored status with carefully selected "preferred" suppliers. In turn, these preferreds provide the chains with many advantages. (More about that soon.)

Within a chain may be two kinds of agencies: wholly owned and franchises. Wholly owned agencies are what the name implies--the chain owns them. Franchises are semi-independent agencies who pay for the right to use a chain's name, preferred products, and services. They sign on, hoping that the fees they pay for franchise status will result in such benefits as brand recognition (which will attract more customers), training support, business guidance, higher commissions, and greater profitability.

* Consortium-affiliated agencies. Consortia promise agencies greater independence than they would have if they were an agency franchise, with the leverage that a large national organization brings. (There's no brand name involved, however.) For a relatively modest fee (sometimes pegged to sales volume), an independent agency can affiliate itself with a consortium organization. In turn, the consortium forges preferred-supplier relationships on behalf of its member agencies and provides them with marketing aid, training support, financial advice, and possibly a 24-hour back-up reservation service. Some small or medium-sized chains also join consortia to further leverage their position in the industry.

Not all travel agencies are full-service. Some only sell tours. Some concentrate almost exclusively on business travel. And a good number sell only cruises.

Cruise-only agencies (sometimes called cruise-oriented agencies) are specialists. They pride themselves on their especially deep knowledge of ships, cruise lines, and ports. They may sell air and lodging, but only in conjunction with cruises. (They usually tap into the cruise line's air and hotel inventory.) Cruise-onlys can be independent, belong to a consortium, or be part of a chain. There are even cruise-only consortia and chains.

For other ways that people buy cruises, see Figure 5-3.

In general, travel agencies sell a cruise for the same price as the cruise line does. Rarely is the price identical to what the brochure indicates, however. Early booking incentives, two-for-one offers, and other promotional discount strategies often lead to a lower price (which further underscores buying a cruise as a "deal"). If the cruise line is offering such a deal, the travel agency can offer the very same one, too.

Or better, they can offer "preferred" deals to their clients. Cruise lines routinely identify those agencies, consortia, or chains that sell--or whom they wish to sell--a large volume of their products. These productive agencies--through a negotiated process--become preferred sellers of the cruise line products. In turn, the agencies refer to the cruise line with whom they have a special relationship as a "preferred" vendor.

What are the advantages of being a preferred agency?

* The agency may be capable of offering its clients a better cruise deal than their competitors.

* The agency may be able to offer the client certain value-added benefits, such as an automatic two-class stateroom upgrade at no extra charge.

* The cruise line may provide promotional items and co-op funds (money that goes toward advertising) to help the agency promote its offerings.

* The cruise line may allow access to inventory that others cannot readily get. (In cruise lingo, inventory represents staterooms available.)

* Since agents have to master only a few products (typically, an agency will have only a few preferred cruise lines), they can better explain those products to their customers.

* If a problem occurs, it's easier to resolve the issue with someone you know--the preferred cruise line.

* The agency typically gets a higher commission for their sales performance.
FIGURE 5-3 Other cruise distribution channels

Though travel agencies powerfully dominate cruise sales, other
sellers of cruises exist. On-line companies sell cruises via the
Internet. Tour companies sell cruises through their catalogs and
other promotional avenues. They may even offer special group
activities for their clients onboard, fold shore excursions into
their package, and provide a tour director to tend to the group's
shipboard needs. Cruise consolidators buy blocks of staterooms from
the lines, often for resale at a discounted price and at the last
minute (when a cruise line is trying to sell remaining inventory).
Cruise consolidators generally sell through toll-free numbers or
the Internet. Incentive companies buy space from cruise lines for
special cruise experiences they arrange for major corporations.
(Incentives will be explained in Chapter 10.) And intermediary
companies (especially in Canada) buy cruises in volume, package
them with air, tours, and other components, then resell them to
travel agencies, sometimes offering a higher commission than the
agency could get directly from the cruise line.

The cruise lines do sell direct to the public, too, but most
carefully avoid letting this erode their relationship with the
travel agency community. A few don't permit the public to buy from
them directly at all. Some omit their toll-free numbers from their
brochures, directing the reader to "see your professional travel
agent." Still others list their toll-free numbers and Web site
addresses, but only as an information source for consumers or to
reach those who would never use the services of a travel agent, no
matter what. Cruise lines also provide group space directly to
groups, clubs, and associations, who in turn sell special cruise
departures to their members. Such special group cruises are often
arranged through travel agencies, as well.

This brings us to an important topic: How do travel agencies make money? When a travel agency sells a cruise, it receives a commission for its efforts. The minimum base commission is 10% of the stateroom sale price. So if an agent sells a $2,000 cruise, the agency will receive $200 from the cruise line. Excluded are add-on costs such as port charges and taxes, which yield no commission. Air transportation provided by the cruise line may generate anywhere from 5 to 10%.

If they enjoy a preferred arrangement, the cruise line will give the agency a commission over and above the base commission, known as an override commission. The greater the agency's productivity (or perhaps that of its consortium or chain), the greater the override might be. Sometimes the commission structure is based on productivity levels. For instance, an agency might receive 10% for the first 10 staterooms it sells in a given year, 12% on the next 10, and so on, up to as high as 18%. In other cases, the agency or chain's proven productivity level results in a 15 to 18% commission on all sales during the given year.

To find out why cruises are so important to agency profitability, see Figure 5-4.

Travel agencies typically have two kinds of salespersons: inside and outside sales representatives. An inside salesperson works at the agency, fielding calls, responding to e-mail, and dealing with "walk-in" business. They may be paid straight salary or a percentage of their commissions. In many cases, agents receive a base salary and a percentage of commissions.
FIGURE 5-4 How cruises can be an important profit center to an agency

In 1996 most airlines capped at $50 the commissions that a travel
agency could receive from selling air tickets. Prior to 1996, for
example, a $2,000 ticket would have yielded $200 to the agency.
After the policy change, that same ticket generated only $50. The
lifeblood of agency profitability had been cut severely. It got
worse in 2001, when most airlines totally eliminated commissions.

Agencies immediately searched for new profit centers. Cruises were
an obvious choice. To sell a cruise was to receive at least 10%
commission on most of what a client bought on vacation: lodging,
transportation, meals, entertainment, pre-and postcruise packages,
and more. Air bought from the cruise lines (to get the client to
and from the port) also yields 5 to 10% on the cost of the ticket.
(Usually the maximum commission applies only to the cruise package
itself, and not the air.) The most successful agencies, therefore,
weaned themselves off their dependency on air tickets and shifted
their attention toward selling the much more lucrative cruise

Outside salespersons--also called home-based agents--are allied to an agency and sell to friends, acquaintances, or customers referred by them. Paid a percentage of the commission, they usually work out of their home, though they may come into the agency to access its resources or to have an inside agent complete the transaction for them. In some cases, these outside salespeople are part of a chainlike enterprise composed entirely of home-based agents. Typically, the agent--like all agents--asks the client questions, then makes a recommendation based on that client's travel needs. He or she then turns over the client to a central phone booking center to handle the actual details of the trip.

Associations and Training

How does a travel agent learn about cruise products and how to sell them most efficiently? Cruise lines may offer agents individualized print materials, videos, CD-ROMs, DVDs, Internet training sites, visits to agencies by their sales representatives, seminars at key city locations, presentations at conferences, and inspections of their ships. (See Figure 5-5 for a ship inspection form.) Cruise lines also make it easy for travel agents to take cruises at a very reduced price, sometimes individually, sometimes with a group of other agents. These are called familiarization cruises, or fams, and they permit agents to have first-hand experience with the cruise product, the kind that helps them to better sell cruise vacations to their customers.

The Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), which represents the vast majority of cruise companies, also makes available a highly diversified mix of training products and events. Indeed, CLIA's training program is regularly rated as the best in the travel business. Travel agents employed by CLIA-affiliated agencies may enroll in its Cruise Counsellor certification program. They can achieve three levels of certification: Accredited Cruise Counsellor (ACC), Master Cruise Counsellor (MCC), or Elite Cruise Counsellor (ECC). Credits are earned via a combination of classroom, Internet, and/or video training; cruise experience; attendance at CLIA-endorsed conferences; ship inspections; analysis of case studies; and even by studying this book. After completion of each training component, the certification candidate must pass an exam. (For more details, you may contact CLIA at the address given in Appendix B.)

CLIA works very closely with the International Council of Cruise Lines (ICCL), which participates in the regulatory and policy development process on matters having to do with the environment, medical facilities, passenger protection, public health, safety, and security. Also, the Niche Cruise Marketing Alliance (NCMA) represents cruise lines with unusual and distinct cruise products. Some lines belong to both CLIA and the NCMA.

Here are some other North American organizations that offer education in cruise-related topics:

* The Alliance of Canadian Travel Associations (ACTA) is a nonprofit trade association of travel agencies and suppliers who work together for the promotion, improvement, and advancement of the travel industry, while safeguarding the interests of the traveling public.

* The American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) is a trade association that enhances the professionalism and profitability of member agents through effective representation in industry and government affairs, education, and training, and by identifying and meeting the needs of the traveling public.

* The Association of Retail Travel Agents (ARTA) is an organization that provides a forum for travel agents (especially at small-and medium-sized agencies) to emphasize to both the consumer and the supplier the important role they play in providing professional, unbiased travel information.

* The Canadian Institute of Travel Counsellors (CITC) encourages education and professionalism in the travel industry through support services, such as seminars, courses, agent education trips, newsletters, and special events.

* The Institute of Certified Travel Agents (ICTA) is a nonprofit organization that has educated travel industry professionals for more than 30 years. Through quality training and certification programs, ICTA ensures that travel agents are skilled professionals who can expertly satisfy their clients' travel needs.

* The International Airlines Travel Agent Network (IATAN), a wholly owned subsidiary of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), is a not-for-profit organization committed to upholding professional travel business standards. Among other things, it provides education and identifies travel professionals who are entitled to industry benefits.

* The National Association of Commissioned Travel Agents (NACTA) is an association of travel industry cruise-oriented travel agencies, independent travel agencies, and other agencies that work with outside sales and independent contractors.

* The National Association of Cruise-Oriented Agencies (NACOA) is a nonprofit trade association of travel agencies whose members have made significant professional commitment to the cruise vacation product. It is the only agency association dedicated to cruise specialists.

* The National Tour Association (NTA) is a professional trade association for the packaged travel industry, made up of tour operators, destination marketing organizations, and the suppliers (including cruise lines) that service them.

* The Outside Sales Support Network (OSSN) is an association established to represent independent travel contractor needs, providing education, fam training programs, and marketing directives to help sell and promote travel products for the outside travel agent.

* The Society of Incentive and Travel Executives (SITE) is a worldwide organization of business professionals dedicated to the recognition development of motivational and performance improvement strategies involving, among other things, cruises.



Working for the Cruise Lines

How easy is it to get a job in the cruise industry? For land-based employment, it's certainly feasible. Like any major company, a big cruise line employs hundreds or thousands of people at all levels--from receptionists through reservationists on up to executives--but you generally need to live near its headquarters. Most cruise lines are located in the Miami-Fort Lauderdale area. Afew large cruise lines have home offices in the Seattle, Los Angeles, or New York City areas.

It's easier to work your way up in the cruise industry than in many other businesses. Most cruise executives started in entry-level positions. Talent is very much cultivated from within.

If you don't live near a cruise line's home office location, three other kinds of land-based jobs are possible. Most cruise lines employ a limited number of people--usually part-time--at their pier embarkation facilities. In Alaska, many cruise companies own tour operators, hotels, and rail services, providing a substantial number of seasonal jobs. District sales managers and multiline reps, of course, can represent their cruise lines in any of a number of major North American cities. DSM jobs, though, are hard to get. Many DSMs are former travel agents.

Working at sea is more problematic. Most U.S.-headquartered cruise line staff comes from non-English-speaking countries (though they're expected to be relatively fluent in English). The best job opportunities for English speakers are staff positions in shops, the spa, the casino, the children's activity area, the purser's office, and the medical facility. Sports personnel, shore excursion staff, hairdressers, photographers, entertainers, and the cruise director are also likely to come from English-speaking countries. Officers generally are European and have prior navy and/or merchant marine service experience. The rest of the crew--the dining, kitchen and beverage staff, stewards, and maintenance workers--tends to come from Eastern Europe, Asia, Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean.

What are the benefits of working on a ship? Topping the list: the opportunity to see the world--and get paid for it. This is especially true with cruise lines that operate nonrepeating, one-way itineraries year-round, across the globe. Most likely to have free time in port are employees whose job load lightens when most passengers are off the ship, like casino and spa staff, as well as entertainers. Other benefits of working on a cruise ship are gratuities (mostly for food and beverage personnel and stateroom stewards) and the opportunity to meet interesting passengers from around the world. Also, most normal day-to-day expenses, such as meals, accommodations, and laundry, are taken care of. The result: It isn't how much you earn but how much you save that will determine how profitable your job will be.

There's a down side, of course. Working on a cruise isn't a job, it's a lifestyle, one that you must be psychologically equipped for. Most ships (even those headquartered in the United States) are registered in foreign, developing countries and fly "flags of convenience." U.S. labor laws don't apply. Daily working hours are long, often with split shifts (e.g., you work from 6 A.M. to 3 P.M., then from 8 P.M. to 11 P.M.)--and that's usually six or seven days a week. Salaries are relatively high for officers and senior staff--others are paid well below minimum wage. There's very little job security and few workers' rights. And accommodations are tight and spartan. Officers and senior staff get private cabins, but most other crew members sleep two, three, or four to a room, depending on how high up they are in the ship's job hierarchy.

One exception to the above: Cruise vessels that travel entirely domestic itineraries must observe the work laws of that country. For example, a riverboat that plies the Mississippi River must follow U.S. labor regulations for its staff. Also, expert lecturers don't follow the normal employee pattern. They usually get a free cruise and a regular passenger stateroom in exchange for their services. Salary is rarely involved (except sometimes for celebrity lecturers).

Suppose you do indeed want to work on a cruise ship. How do you get that job? Two paths exist. One is to contact the cruise line itself. Most provide a system for would-be employees to contact them and that, in some cases, lists those positions that are open and what qualifications are needed. These systems are generally Web-or phone-based. A second path is to contact a concessioner that does the hiring for the cruise line. Concessioners tend to handle onboard store, spa, entertainment, and lecturer positions.

To maximize your chances of success, your application should reflect a clear idea of which job area you're interested in and a familiarity with the profile of the cruise line you're applying to. In most cases, you must be at least 21 years old. If you do get a job offer, take it, even if it's not precisely what you want. Once aboard, you may be able to "break out of" your job description after proving your worth. Note, too, that you will be a "contracted" worker. Such contracts tend to be anywhere from three months to a year (eight to nine months is typical), with the rest of the year off without salary. Afterwards, if you've done a good job, you may be offered a new contract.

For more about cruise line employment, see the reference works listed in Appendix C.

Questions for Discussion

1. Briefly describe the responsibilities of each of the following:

* captain

* chief purser

* cruise director

* executive chef

* cabin steward

2. Briefly explain how the land-based operations are typically organized.

3. Why do most consumers buy cruises through a travel agent? Why do travel agents like selling cruises to them?

4. Describe four kinds of travel agencies.


Interview someone you know who has been on a cruise (not someone in the travel industry). Ask the person the questions given below. Then summarize the responses in the spaces given.

Name of the person interviewed:

1. Did you buy your cruise through a travel agent? Why or why not? Had you ever used a travel agent before?

2. In your opinion, who are the three most important cruise line staff members you came in contact with during your cruise? Why did you choose these three?

3. Did you ever entertain the thought of being a travel agent? of working on a cruise ship (and in what capacity)? Why or why not?

Marc Mancini, Ph.D.

Professor of Travel

West Los Angeles College
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Author:Mancini, Marc
Publication:Cruising, A Guide to the Cruise Line Industry, 2nd ed.
Date:Jan 1, 2004
Previous Article:Chapter 4 The cruise experience.
Next Article:Chapter 6 The pre-, post-, and off-ship cruise experience.

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