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Working on Cruise Ships for a Dollar-Paid Adventure

Embarking on a career overseas, especially in dream destinations like Australia, Canada, or New Zealand, is a pursuit many aspire to but find challenging to attain. As my friend Tomi, a Bali native, shared the same dream of working in Australia, and after extensive research, he discovered that the path to earning in dollars might just lie in the vast expanses of the ocean—working on cruise ships.

Realistic Dreams and High Seas Adventures 

For those seeking a realistic and straightforward route to earning in dollars, working on cruise ships proves to be a lucrative yet unconventional choice. Despite the demanding nature of the job—often spanning 6, 7, or 8 months without breaks—opportunities to explore major cities in New Zealand, Australia, and Canada make it an enticing option.

Having sailed to numerous cities, my friend Tomi's journey working on cruise ships has been both physically and financially rewarding. The work routine involves consecutive contracts with short breaks in between—usually 2 or 3 months—before diving back into a new contract.

The Qualifications and Costs 

One notable aspect is that a high level of education isn't a prerequisite. With just a high school diploma, my friend Tomi ventured into the tourism industry in Bali for five years before setting sail. The departure costs are surprisingly reasonable, including expenses such as the Seaman Book (approximately IDR 700,000), USD Visa (around a few million rupiahs, later reimbursed by the company), medical examination (approximately IDR 2 million, also refunded), Basic Safety Training (BST) certification (around IDR 2 million), passport (around IDR 600,000), and the ticket (inclusive, totaling less than IDR 10 million).

After building language skills and deciding to aim for renowned cruise lines like Royal Caribbean and Disney Cruise Line, my friend Tomi's dream of eventually working in Australia remains alive. While the journey to Australian shores is still in progress, the experience of saving money and honing skills is invaluable.

Working on a Cruise Ship Pros and Cons

Challenges of Cruise Ship Employment: A Candid Account from My Friend Tomi and Other Ex-Crew Members

Acknowledging the allure of cruise ship employment, it's essential to recognize the challenges. My friend Tomi and other former crew members emphasize the demanding nature of the job, including extensive working hours, limited rest time, and the pressure to meet targets. Despite the promise of traveling the world, time off the ship is often restricted, primarily spent on shore excursions or basic necessities like finding Wi-Fi or grabbing a meal.

The income, though in dollars, might not always match the level of effort expended. Tips, a significant source of income, can vary, and the overall compensation might not align with the strenuous workload. Additionally, shared accommodations with fellow crew members and the quality of meals in the crew mess are aspects to consider.

Transitioning to Shore Employment for a Better Quality of Life

For those seeking a more balanced lifestyle with higher earnings, transitioning to shore employment might be the next logical step. Working in the U.S., for instance, offers substantial financial rewards, humane working hours, days off, and real vacations. The contrast between cruise ship life and land-based employment is stark, emphasizing the importance of considering long-term goals and personal well-being.


Working on cruise ships can undoubtedly provide a unique and enriching experience, offering the chance to explore different cultures and earn in dollars. However, it's crucial to weigh the pros and cons, considering factors like work-life balance, financial goals, and personal fulfillment. While the allure of cruising the seas is undeniable, charting a course for a sustainable and rewarding career requires thoughtful consideration.**

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