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In this Post: Are you considering cruise ship work as a Massage Therapist? This adventurous sea-life may be just the thing to kick off your career as a massage therapist. Read this guide to find out more.
Are you an adventure seeking, independent, energetic massage therapist? Do you want to see the world, expand your horizons, and make lasting friendships? Are you a hard-working, motivated individual? If you answered yes to these questions working as a massage therapist on a cruise ship may be right up your alley!
Working on a cruise ship is like nothing you have ever experienced. These floating cities are complex organisms that offer unique perspectives into other cultures and ways of life. To live and work at sea requires sacrifices, while at the same time providing great rewards!
Steiner Leisure Limited are the people to get in touch with if you want to work as a Massage Therapist aboard a cruise ship. They have interview dates in various locations around the world. You must go to a location in your country of origin to be considered for the position. Check out their website to find a date and city that works for you.
Their interview process is a pretty corporate ordeal, which gives you a glimpse into what it is actually like to work aboard these vessels. Maintaining a professional image is of utmost importance in this type of environment, and the Steiner interview process is reflective of this.
If you are expecting the warm, fuzzies you received while in massage school, think again. This is a business. A business with high standards and expectations.
“The ‘professionals’ from Steiner Leisure International presented a visually pleasing, emotion stirring powerpoint, polished to the point of perfection. I was in the trance, feeling the breeze in my hair, the splash of cold refreshing sea on my face and fingertips, you know, getting a little Titanic on the bow…all Kate Winslet like. Until they told me I was only allowed to get off the ship one day a week (if we happened to be in a port).” Amber Grace of Amber Grace Wellness reminisces on her interview. Needless to say, Amber decided this type of life was NOT for her.
“Ship Life” is not for the faint of heart, and probably not an environment you would want to work in long-term, but for a season (or two) it can be the adventure of a lifetime!
An adventure that requires you to work long, hard hours. As Amber observed, it is true that you have little free time when you work aboard a ship. On the other hand, you meet some of the most interesting people who become some of the best friends of your life.
If you are picturing a life of leisure with frequent trips to the beach, you are mistaken. This is not what it is like to work on a ship. But that is not to say that it can’t be some of the best days of your life! Because truth be told, it can!
You will most likely live below deck. If you are lucky, you may get a room all to yourself, but more than likely you will have a roommate. The days at sea you can expect to be fully booked, while the days in port you will have a more relaxed schedule. You may find yourself hanging in the crew bar, but more than likely you will spend your evenings with co-workers in one of the shows, or lounges. Working in the massage department, you will find that you have more privileges than many of the other crew aboard the ship.
My Personal Ship Experiences
I worked on “The Pride of Aloha” a Norwegian Cruise Line of America (NCLA) cruise ship in 2006. We circled the Hawaiian chain, and twice a week picked up new passengers. The ship was never empty. There were always guests to serve. Sometimes life aboard felt chaotic, sometimes stressful, always interesting, and never dull!
I was not in their massage department. This was before my massage days. I was a member of the waitstaff. So while some of my knowledge is useful information if you are considering this type of environment, I called in backup for this post.
I was excited to get the chance to interview Nicole Monroig, a massage therapist who worked three consecutive contracts aboard “The Pride of Aloha” and “The Pride of America”, both NCLA ships. Chatting with Nicole brought back a wave of memories, exploring new places with adventurous peers, laughing until my sides hurt with co-workers who became friends, and testing my strength and endurance in ways I never imagined possible. My days at sea were some of the most memorable days of my life!
Nicole puts the whole experience this way, “It was the best decision of my life! The people I met broadened my mind, helped me learn what I want and what I don’t want in life, and became family. Because of this experience, I now feel content and complete. I’d do it all over again in a heartbeat!” Her advice to people considering this type of work, “Just DO IT!”.
Glimpse Into The Work
- You will generally be performing 50-minute treatments with 10-minute breaks between each session.
- Days at sea you can expect to be booked solid with 10-12 massages. When the ship is in port, you will have lighter days.
- Most ship spa’s are open 8-8, seven days a week.
- You will probably be scheduled to work 5 1/2 days a week, averaging around 30-40 massages a week.
- Your pay is based on commission, you receive a percentage on treatments as well as retail sales.
- Professionalism – This type of work teaches you about professionalism on a profound scale. The skills you learn from having such high expectations thrust at you will serve you well in your future. Having these skills set you up for success in all future professional relations.
- Empowerment – You will be tested in ways you never imagined. The strength you gain from this experience will prove to you that you are capable of anything you set your mind to.
- Save money – Because you have so many days at sea with little chance to spend money, and your meals and board are provided, you can save a boatload of cash. Pun intended. If you are trying to pay off your student loans, or are saving for a down payment on a house, this can be a tremendous opportunity to get ahead!
- Observation – If you don’t have much business experience, this can give you a chance to see how someone else runs a massage business before one day branching out on your own.
- Ship privileges – As long as you are dressed appropriately you can eat with the passengers, as well as go see shows and hang in the clubs at night. As a massage therapist, you are treated better than much of the crew.
- Friendships – You will make amazing friendships that last a lifetime! There is something so bonding about living out of a backpack on a floating city!
- Perspective – You will leave the ship with a broadened mindset on people, cultures, and geography.
- Sales – Selling is the name of the game! Sales are a huge part of how you will make your living in this type of work. Commission makes up a large percentage of your income. Having high commission rates also puts you in better standing with management. Being in good standing with management means you will be booked the more coveted, less labor-intensive treatments.
- Choreographed treatments – Steiner expects you to follow their specifically designed choreographed routines. You won’t be tailoring your massages to the individual needs of each client, you are following a set protocol. Now the one plus side to this is that Steiner has developed these sequences with conservation in mind. Meaning body mechanics, and techniques to preserve your energy for the long shifts are top of mind when designing these routines.
- Secret shoppers – Steiner will send in secret shoppers to make sure you are following the routines they have developed.
- Repetitive work – Most of the clients that are coming in have relaxation on their mind. They want a pretty basis Swedish massage. In some ways, this is nice because it is less physically demanding than others types of massages, but it can also be quite boring.
- Work load – Working as a massage therapist on a cruise ship is hugely demanding. The sheer number of massages you will perform is mind-blowing. Consider if you can handle this type of a pace.
- Embrace sales – The more you can embrace this aspect of the job, the easier your life will be and the more money you will make. Remember that having higher commission rates means the managers cherry pick the easier and more desirable treatments for you.
- Appearance – Your appearance is of huge importance when you are trying to sell products, which again ups your sales commissions. Doing your hair and makeup will go a long way in presenting an image that helps you sell.
- Weigh it out – Consider all the pros and cons before committing. Consider how you feel about hard work, living where you work, and being away from family and friends. All of these factors will play into whether or not you will be able to enjoy a life at sea.
When Nicole talks about feeling content and complete because of her experience working aboard a ship, I can relate. Like Nicole, I am now a mom. My wanderlust spirit would not have been satisfied if I had not taken my 20’s to explore and experience the unique opportunities that presented themselves. I don’t know that I would feel as content as I do sitting still and raising my kiddo if I hadn’t had such amazing adventures as working aboard cruise ships. The irony of all of this is these wandering experiences pushed me to want to ground in a deep and meaningful way. If I hadn’t explored then, I think I would always be wondering what was out there! Instead, I feel now like I am just where I am supposed to be. The present feels perfectly fulfilling and right.
Cruise massage probably won’t be your ultimate career pinnacle, but for a season if you choose to explore this possibility it will be amazing! If you are fresh out of school, have tons of energy, and want to explore, working on a cruise ship is an amazing way to accomplish these goals! If you hate it, simply move on. You will have gained so much knowledge and insight through the process that you cannot go wrong!
- Boulder College of Massage Therapy Graduate
- Nationally Certified through NCBTMB
- Colorado Licensed Massage Therapist
- Certified CranialSacral Level 1 through Upledger
- Certified Herbal Therapist through Nutrition Therapy Institute
- Certified Fujian Massage through Barefoot Masters
- Fort Lewis College - Majored in Art, Minored in Business Administration
- 6 Year Winner of Best Massage Therapist for "Best of The Boat" Competition
- Massage Business Owner Since 2008
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