What are the roles and positions of the Human Resources department on a cruise ship?

Jun 12, 2023

The Human Resources department plays a crucial role in the cruise ship industry, serving as the core of the company's onboard operations. Its main responsibility is to ensure the continuity of sustainable business operations while promoting a safe, fair, and equal treatment of all crew members. While some HR personnel may prioritize protecting the company's interests, there are many dedicated individuals who genuinely strive to support and advocate for the well-being of the crew members.

The shipboard Human Resources Department on a large cruise ship typically mirrors a modern corporate structure found on land. However, there are unique challenges faced by the HR department onboard, including managing a multinational and multicultural workforce within a limited space and working and living environment. The size and composition of the HR department can vary across different cruise lines and ship sizes, but it generally consists of four key positions: Human Resources Manager, Training and Development Manager, Crew/Staff Administrator, and Crew/Staff Administrative (Welfare) Assistant. Some cruise lines may combine the roles of Human Resources Manager and Training & Development Manager into a single position, while others may have different titles for the Crew/Staff Administrator positions, such as Crew Purser and Assistant Crew Purser, which may fall under a separate shipboard department.

Human Resources Manager

The Human Resources Manager oversees and manages the entire HR division of the cruise ship. They handle essential functions such as training and development, performance management, conflict resolution, employee relations, promotions, transfers, compliance with berthing regulations, discipline, attendance management, benefits and compensation administration, policy and procedure implementation, and regulatory compliance. They also support senior officers, onboard management, and heads of other departments in dealing with HR-related issues and maintain communication with the corporate HR department. Typically, applicants for this role should have two to four years of HR management experience within a large organization, preferably with a background in cruise ships, hotels, hospitality, or retail. A minimum of a Bachelor's degree in Human Resources, Business Administration, Psychology, or a related field is required. Strong communication skills, computer proficiency, and fluency in English are necessary. The salary range for this position is approximately $5,000 to USD 6,500 per month, depending on the cruise line.

Training and Development Manager

The Training and Development Manager is responsible for implementing training programs for officers, crew, and staff onboard the cruise ship. They evaluate the effectiveness of training conducted by managers and supervisors across various departments and conduct orientation programs for new hires and recurrent training to ensure the highest operational and safety standards. The Training and Development Manager may collaborate with the Safety Officer, Environmental Officer, department heads, supervisors, and managers to enhance training methods and presentation skills. Qualifications for this role typically include a Bachelor's degree or its international equivalent, along with two years of progressive training and development experience. Preference is given to candidates with a background in cruise ships, hotels, hospitality, or retail, and previous human resources generalist experience is advantageous. Strong communication skills, computer proficiency, and fluency in English (additional languages such as Spanish, French, or German are a plus) are necessary. The salary range for this position is approximately $3,800 to $5,200 USD per month, depending on the cruise line.

Crew / Staff Administrator

The Crew/Staff Administrator (sometimes referred to as the Crew Purser) is responsible for managing the embarkation and disembarkation processes for officers, staff, and crew members. This includes handling documentation preparation, airline tickets, visas, and hotel accommodations. They are also responsible for maintaining and monitoring personnel documents such as passports, contracts, visas, and medical examination results. The crew/staff administrator issues crew ID cards upon embarkation (sign-on) and deactivates and collects them before disembarkation (sign-off). Requirements: High school or international equivalent (pre-college education); college/university degree is a plus—office/administrative experience required. Cruise ship, hotel, or resort experience preferred. Must possess excellent verbal and written command of the English language. Salary range: $1800-2600 U.S. per month, depending on the cruise line.

Crew / Staff Administrative (Welfare) Assistant

Provides administrative support to the HR office, handles paperwork, emails, records, and incoming phone calls, and assists the crew/staff administrator in performing their duties. The crew/staff administrative assistant schedules and coordinates various personnel activities, such as sports, parties, tours, and special events, maintain movie rentals, coordinates crew and staff berthing allocation, and distributes cabin keys. This is an entry-level shipboard HR department position. Requirements: High school or college degree preferred. Office / administrative assistant experience is an asset. Must be proficient in using computers, Internet communications, and office software packages. Must possess a good verbal and written command of the English language. Salary range: $1200-1800 U.S. per month, depending on the cruise line. Possibilities for promotion to Crew / Staff Administrator.

I hope this information was helpful if you are interested in applying for some of these roles. Have fun on the ship, and always stay safe.

(Photo Credit: P&O Cruises)

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