High salaries and fast career – possible in the restaurant
No matter that you are an experienced waiter, or want to take the first steps in catering, you will find your place on board, while you can enjoy the high salaries and the fast improvement of your career. That is the reason why the restaurant service is one of the most popular jobs on board.

Check out our following article, where you can find the general details of this position, to be sure that this is the job which fits perfectly for you. Of course, there are many cruise lines, and millions of different cruises, where the exact outcomes can be different.




In the server team, you have to complete almost the same duties just as in a land-based hotel – and it is not a surprise, because you are working in a floating mega-hotel. There are two different sections you can work in according to your experience:


  • You can work with a classical A-la-Carte system in the main dining rooms and one of the exclusive restaurants of the vessel. I this cases you have to offer from the menu, take the orders of your guests, and assist them during the whole time they spend in the restaurant. Don’t forget that most of the time, you will work in a team, of Headwaiters, Team waiters, and Assistant Waiters.

  • Without serious catering experience, you can start your career in the buffets, room service, officer/staff mess and similar places where you can learn the basics of catering, which will be the foundation of your professional career.




As we mentioned the place of your duty depends on your professional experience. In the following, you can check out these main fields which are almost the same onboard of every vessel.



Roomservice on board means almost the same just as on land. In this field you have to collect the orders during the day, answer individual orders, and service at the desired cabin.


Staff Mess

The Staff and Officer mass are great opportunities to establish your experience. In this field you have to take individual orders, serve them, which will be a great risk-free way to practice A la Carte service. Moreover, most important you will get acquainted with food distribution systems of the vessels, which will be vital in the main dining rooms.



The Lido Buffets are offering typical dishes, such as burgers, taco, pizza, sandwiches, Italian, seafood, etc.

Your job will be the same in every of these – take care of the guests, maintain the tidiness, and the accurate teamwork with the galley assistant, and assistant cook colleagues.


Main dining rooms

The dining rooms are the basics of the catering on board. These are large size restaurants with 400-600 seats, and two different sittings to be able to serve 3000-4500 guests each night. With no experience, you have to spend 3-4 months in the RS and buffets/messes to work in the restaurant, because you have to follow the A la Carte service rules.


Exclusive restaurants

There are guests on board who wants more than the others. The companies designed the exclusive restaurants for them where they can have exclusive dishes, vines and service just as on land – the dining rooms are all-inclusive, while the exclusive places are paid per dish. You can work in one of these restaurants after you gained all the necessary experience on board



Working times

You will work between 9-11 hours each days, which is divided to separated blocks with time-offs. In general you will work 3-5 hours followed by a break time, during the day and you can start your duty again. In the Room Service you have nightshifts as well.


Based on the fact that these cruise ships never stops, you have to work seven days every week. For the first time it sounds a lot, but actually there is no sense to have a full days off (nothing to do on board during nighttime, when all the others are working).


To compensate the 7 days, you will have half day-offs, which is usually match with the port times of the ship. You can use these hours to visit the places you are docked at, explore the beaches, and the local places of interest.


Experience you need to step onboard

The experience requirements are different in case of every cruise lines, so you will find a place where you can start your career.


Without experience you can start at 3-4 star cruise lines, where you can learn all the knowledge to be a catering professional, and build your career.


If you have service background from land than you can apply for 5 star cruise lines, where you can use every bit of knowledge as a benefit, and even high-end vessels as well, where not only the service, but the vessel is exclusive and designed to host a small group of guests at the same time.


Trainings on board

These vessels are like clockworks where all the parts need to cooperate. If you step onboard without experience you will have practical (Lido, Messes, RS) and theoretical trainings as well, to ensure that you knowledge fits the standards of the cruise line. This whole method designed to have all the knowledge and confidence, when you start to work with the guests in the dining room. For example the steps can be the following:


  1. Theoretical trainings and Staff/Officer Mess – To learn and understand the methods of the vessel

  2. Buffets + Room Service – Where you can get used to the work with the guests

  3. Dining Rooms – Where you can learn the professional methods of service

  4. Exclusive Restaurants – Where you can maximize the benefits of your catering skills


Language Requirements


The exact language requirements are depend of each vessel and cruise lines, and based on the typical nationality of the guests. Luckily most of the curise lines are designed to serve American guests, so the proper English knowledge will be essential. You must speak English at least on a conversational (B) level, and able to understand complex sentences/orders, and answer. Your language skills will be assessed during the application process, to make sure that you won’t face with difficulties on board, plus you have to complete an independent test (Marlins) according to the maritime law.


These requirements are the similar for each position, so there is no chance to step on board with Basic English. The main reason, that you might be able to complete your duties without communication, but you will have secondary/ and safety duties, where the proper communication is mandatory.



On board of a curise ship you can earn 1400-2500USD each month, without accommodation, food and similar charges - which is a big advantage if we compare with the land positions, where you can lose the 70% of your income because of the accommodation, food, transportation and utility costs. It is not a surprise that these on board positions are so popular.


Based on the policies of the cruise line you are working for, your salary can be the following:


  • Simple Base Salary – 1000-1200USD in those positions where you don’t have to work with guests, or during the training period (Officer/Staff mess)

  • Basic salary + tipping – Where you can enjoy the benefits of the basic salary, plus you can expect tipping from the guests as well (Room Service)

  • Minimal base salary + higher tipping – A typical method in the main dining rooms where your base salary is low, but based on the fact that you are working only with guests, you can expect a high tipping incomes. In these cases you can earn 1500+-2500USD each month during the first contract.


Careers you can expect

Luckily there are many different levels on board for the restaurant workers. And don’t forget that the crew is continuously changes according their sign off date, which will give you a great opportunity to step higher. Based on this you don’t need to wait for your boss to retire, just need to perform well, and you next contract can start from one step higher. Let’s see an example:



  1. Assistant Waiter

  2. Watier

  3. Teamwaiter

  4. Headwaiter

  5. Maitre’d

  6. F&B Manager Assistant

  7. F&B Manager

  8. Hotelmanager

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