Along with a challenging career and worldwide travel opportunities, cruise lines have many other benefits to offer.


Medical professionals within their teams are afforded officer status, which ensures comfortable, individual accommodation. Medical staff typically have cabins with portholes with flat screen TV’s, double bed, desk, wardrobe, small fridge and en-suite facilities and on most ships, Wi-Fi. The Senior Doctor’s cabin on most vessels is a mini-suite with separate lounge area (with a second flat screen TV), and on most ships the bedroom has a separate dressing room. The bathroom has a bath and shower.

Recreational Facilities

General benefits to ship’s crew in addition to the above include a crew only recreation room with games, a crew store, and a library. The Crew Club organizes crew entertainment such as movie nights, tours in port, barbeques, exercise classes, crew disco parties, and sporting events, to name just a few.

As officers, medical staff have the additional benefit of access to most passengers facilities inclding restarants, on board entertainment and bars, boutiques, spa and fitness centres, luxury pools and more.

Visit the cruise lines’ website to view these.


All meals are catered for on board at no cost. Medical staff usually dine in the Officer’s Mess where they are served mostly from the same menu options as in the passenger dining rooms. There are also always items available in a buffet in the mess. Officer privileges of medical staff allow you the option of dining in passenger areas.

Examples of such facilities on board are casual dining options (such as the buffet, pizzeria and hamburger bar) or other small food outlets in the Piazza or Specialty Restaurants (some have a small cover charge).

Unfortunately due to space constraints on board, cruise lines typically are unable to cater for special diets (such as Kosher or Halaal requirements) for both passengers and crew. For example, pork is featured regularly and is butchered, handled and cooked in the same area and cooked in the same equipment as all other proteins and foods.

Ports of call

Passenger cruise ship itineraries take you all over the world. For the passengers, cruises range from a few days to a few months, but on average, cruises are between one and two weeks long. On “turnaround” days, all passengers disembark, and within a few hours, the next passengers embark for the next cruise. Itineraries vary and you will get an excellent overview of the ports of call by visiting the cruise lines’ website.


Cruise line fleets and the ships themselves vary greatly in size. There are different classes of ships – some small, some large, and some were custom built for specific cruises.

Medical Care on board

All seafarers including medical staff must undergo an extensive statutory ILO Seafarer’s Medical Fitness Examination prior to offer of employment in order that they are fit to carry out their emergency duties. This exam includes X-rays and blood tests. Seafarers are unlikely to pass a fitness exam if their BMI is greater than 30. Some cruise lines limit recruits who smoke or have visible tattoos. If you have any prescriptions that have been cleared as part of your pre-employment medical exam, those should be filled for the duration of your assignment before you join. Once on board, acute medical care (and if required, repatriation) is provided by the cruise line and it’s medical staff at no cost to the crew member.

For more information on the pre-employment medical exam, see our Pre-employment Medical Exam link on our Useful Links page – please note this examination is only done one you have accepted an offer of employment and you are responsible for the initial cost thereof.


The day you board the ship, you will receive safety inductions as well as documents detailing the safety requirements on the ship. You will also be required to perform specific emergency duties in the case of an emergency.

Staying in contact

Staying in contact with family back home is made possible through Wi-Fi facilities on board most ships in officer cabins. Telephone calls from the ship’s telephones (in each cabin) are very affordable. There is almost always cellphone reception on board (even in the open ocean), so your family can always contact you in an emergency on your cellphone or on the ship’s satellite telephones.

All ship’s staff may apply with a few days’ notice for day visitors passes whilst the ship is in port.

Relatives’ Travel

Comprehensive relatives’ travel policies exist to also allow doctors and other medical staff the privilege of traveling with their spouse and/or immediate family on board. This policy is regularly updated and your manning agency can supply details on the application process. It differs for officers of different ranks and is dependent on professional performance and approval from various parties.