Frequently Asked Questions

Merchant Ships

Frequently asked questions relating to the search for jobs and careers aboard merchant vessels, selection and recruiting processes, and requirements on board; and our merchant marine job seeking service.

Frequently Asked Questions - Merchant Ships
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Considering the many questions, uncertainty and doubts that might arise when entertaining the idea of applying for a seagoing position in the merchant marine, we have created this section on our website as a general information guide to provide our visitors and users with answers to commonly asked questions regarding its requirements, selection and recruitment processes, onboard living conditions and other factors to take into account before making a decision in this respect.

1. What kinds of positions are available?

If you want to work aboard a merchant vessel, you will find a range of different positions. Some of them do not require previous training or experience, such as steward/waiter, oiler, pot washer, kitchen attendance, cleaner, etc.

For a general description of them, please visit our Jobs on Merchant Vessels section.

To check out current available job openings to work on merchant vessels in our website, please visit our Job Vacancies section.

2. What do I need to work aboard a merchant vessel?

Generally, most positions on board don't require any special professional skills. To be sure, you have to pay attention to the different posts and check their requirements (click here).

3. What previous work experience do I need if I want to get hired?

Most positions on board require a special previous experience, but there many entry-level jobs available for people without experience at all. Plus, the merchant marine companies use to train new employees for the different jobs. Anyway, you’ll have to check the different positions (click here).

4. Age to be hired?

Most cruise lines require you to be aged 18 or 21 and considered an adult according to the legislation of your country.

5. What kind of documentation do I need to work on a cruise ship?

Obviously this matter depends on the position to be filled, the law and regulations of flag state of the vessel, the nationality of the employee and other diverse aspects.

But generally it would include:

  • Passport.
  • If you are not American or Canadian citizen and the company is registered in any of these countries, you need an American C1-D seaman’s visa, which can be requested at any US or Canadian consulate.

Please do not hesitate to contact us to request for specific information on this subject.

6. Do I need some medical certification to get a job on board?

Yes, but it is easy to obtain. In the most of cases, it will be done by the physicians of the shipping lines. However, sometimes a certificate authorized in the country you live in. The medical certificates are usually cheap ($75-$90). If it has been done by a particular company doctor, it is free.

7. How long are the contracts?

Normally, from 6 to 12 months, depending on the company and the specific project. The different sort of contracts can be extended by mutual agreement.

8. Can the new employees decide the region or territory where they want to work?

Not initially. It is the shipping company that assigns the ship aboard which you will work. After the first contract, when you are already working for the company, it is possible for you to ask for a change.

9. What does it happen if you want to finish the contract earlier than the end date?

The employee will be responsible for the cost of the ticket to her/his nation of residence. In the case of being discharged, the company will be responsible for that cost.

10. Is there any soft of discrimination on board?

Absolutely not.

11. Is it possible for the crewmembers to go down to the ports of call?

Yes, if they are not on duty.

12. Will the crewmembers cancel taxes while they work on board?

If the company has its offices and is registered under laws of the United States of America, American citizens will get their taxes deducted from their paychecks. In another case, crewmembers will have the responsibility to declare their taxes to the government of their country when they return home. The amount taken from the paycheck depends on the legislation of the government. You can find out the details in the shipping company office or employment agency.

13. Will the employees have to pay their air ticket from their origin place to the shipment port and from the port of disembarkment to their country when the contract is finished?

In the most of the cases, the shipping companies pay for it. But, sometimes, the employees will have to pay the air ticket to the place of embarkment, and it will be refunded after the end of the contract. You will be informed about it in the company offices or employment agency during the interview.

14. Is there any expense on board?

No, save exceptions such as the telephone and mail cost.

15. Are the crewmembers allowed to use drugs and narcotics while on board?

Not at all. Any employee caught using drugs on board will be discharged and, regardless of the location of the ship, disembarked and submitted to local police authorities. In addition, the crewmembers have to be prepared to the tests performed regularly to detect any prohibited drug.

16. Are the employees expected to carry out any work different to their usual positions on board?

Due to government and fleet regulations, crewmembers are expected to take part in constant safety and emergency drills.

17. Have crewmembers to share their cabins?

Normally yes, save the higher positions.

18. What currency unit are the employees paid in?

It depends on the country in which the shipping company is registered.

19. Can the crewmembers receive mail or phone calls?

Mail is not a problem, because it works as on land. But the use of the phone may be problematic, because must use a satellite connection.

20. Can I use the telephone while on board?

Mail is not a problem, because it works as on land. Other communication systems are also available.

21. How many days will I have to work?

Usually, 6 days. Nevertheless, you may be required in your position at any moment.

Job Opportunties

Job Opportunties

The maritime cluster offers considerable job opportunities to workers and professionals unemployed or seeking for an occupational change.

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Most In-Demand Jobs On Board Merchant Vessels

Most In-Demand Jobs - Merchant Vessels

There is a large diversity of positions and jobs to be filled aboard merchant vessels.

Obviously, there are also a number of most-in-demand positions in the merchant marine, with different chances of getting hired depending on their requirements and the candidate's profile, qualifications, expertise and objectives.

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Job and Career Advice

Leaving aside professional maritime personnel, working in the merchant marine may offer a unique opportunity to develop more professionalism and skills than in a land-based position.

However, it is a demanding working environment that requires a careful approach to the maritime agencies and companies to get some chances of being recruited to work on board.

Both in terms of eligibility for the position and the application process.

Job and Career Advice

Please do not hesitate to contact us.

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We are open to receive – and we shall reply – any inquiry or request for information about the merchant marine and its job opportunities and for career development.

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Frequently Asked Questions: Merchant Ships