Crew Insight: What You Need to Know about Security Jobs on Cruise Ships

Security jobs on cruise ships

Security Jobs on Cruise Ships FAQ & What You Need to Know

By: Juan Pablo Spitnow, Security Staff onboard Royal Caribbean International

Meet Juan Pablo, Security Staff from the Philippines!

My name is Juan Pablo Spitnow and I’ve been working as Security Staff onboard Royal Caribbean cruise ships for 4 years now.

In this article, I want to share with you some basic information regarding the security jobs on cruise ships.

Personal Introduction

Before applying for a cruise ship security job, I was a cadet of the Philippine Military Academy class of 2012 and I joined the Philippine Air Force after which I suddenly left to grab the opportunity to work abroad.

For 2 years, I was employed in Bahrain World Trade Center as Security CCTV Operator then afterwards I came back home to continue my Bachelor’s Degree while working as a Security Detachment Commander in a Five Star Hotel in the Philippines.

I applied for a job position in the cruise ship industry and waited 3 years until I joined the company.

In the meantime, after a year of perseverance and dedication, I obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminology. Right away I was hired as a Security Officer Supervisor of the leading Commercial and Retail Company in the south of the Philippines. Then after more or less 3 years of waiting, a cruise ship job opportunity crossed my path.

I’ve been working in the cruise industry for 4 years now as a Security Staff (4 contracts onboard Royal Caribbean cruise ships Anthem of the Seas, Independence of the Seas, and Ovation of the Seas).

Cruise ship security staff
Image by Juan Pablo Spitnow.

And, what can I say… Working on a cruise ship is a priceless opportunity that you will remember for a lifetime! You get to travel around the world for free and see the wonders of the world from the southern hemisphere to the northern hemisphere. You get to experience the culture and tradition of every port or country you visit or from the fellow crew members you work with.

Cruise ship experience is very different from any land job.

In this article, I want to answer some common questions related to cruise ship security jobs and share my personal experience.

1. How to Apply for Security Jobs on Cruise Ships?

The best way to apply for security jobs on cruise ships is directly online on the cruise company’s careers webpage. I applied through for a security staff job position for Royal Caribbean. Firstly, I was required to register on C TRAC (Career Tracking Resource & Advancement Compass), complete the necessary information in every field, and then just wait until Royal Caribbean’s official hiring partner in the Philippines sends me an email for a scheduled interview.

When you are filling out the application, make sure you put your active personal email address, contact number, and Skype account as the company can contact you anytime for your scheduled interview.

Find the list of the official careers websites for major cruise companies in the article: Working on a Cruise Ship: How to Apply for Cruise Ship Jobs?

Here is a list of some official cruise ship hiring agencies in the Philippines:

The initial interview is normally with the hiring partner in your designated city (in my case it was Manila), and then the final interview with the security officer from the company’s headquarters (for the Royal Caribbean it was from the Miami office).

2. Do I Need to Have Previous Work Experience?

Preferably, in the cruise ship Security department applicants are required to have 4 years of experience in at least one of the following areas: Army, Navy, Air Force/Aviation, Police, Hotel/Airport Security environment.

3. What Skills Do I Need?

You should be able to write and speak English, with thorough knowledge in protecting assets. You should know the basic duties of Security, know how to operate an X-ray machine, etc.

The process is quite complex as a seafarer requires Government mandatory training like STCW (International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers), PSCRB (Proficiency in Survival Craft and Rescue Boats), SDSD (Security Training for Seafarers with Designated Security Duties) for all seafarers coming from the Philippines, Crowd Management, Conflict Management, Security experiences certifications…

New hires in the Security department also need the following training: EAGLE for X-ray, EDE2 for narcotics and explosive detection, and a lot more for safety and security.

4. Cruise Ship Security Job Positions

Here are the job positions from the lowest to the highest:

Security Staff

Responsible for a thorough screening of visitors, guests, and crew members before getting onboard (a process known as Access Control). We ensure the headcounts of visitors, guests, and crew onboard and ashore are accurate and we ensure that all locations onboard are impassable for unauthorized people.

Then, fire patrol – we ensure that we patrol 24/7 to promptly detect, report, and prevent the outbreak of fire, leak or flood, guest and crew misconduct, illegal entry to any designated restricted areas, blockage of the fire escape, and deficiencies or damage of fire equipment.

Security Staff work 10 hours during sea days and more or less 12 hours during port days. We have a threshold of 303 hours/month, and any excess of 303 hours is considered overtime. It takes years and experience to step up to the next position.

Security Supervisor

Security Guard Supervisor is in charge of gangway operation, rotation and schedule of security staff, maintenance of equipment, handling guest and crew complaints and incidents. He/she conducts incidents investigation, operates CCTV, and is in charge of filling and safekeeping documents related to security operations.

Security Officer

The cruise ship Security Officer is in charge of the guest and crew incidents investigation, assists the Deputy Security Officer with keys and locking plan procedures. He is in charge of the overall gangway operation and layout, maintenance of CCTV, and Saber 5000 (narcotics and explosive equipment).

Deputy Security Officer

Deputy Security Officer is in charge of the key and locking plan database, the security training for Security Staff and other crew members, and in charge of the overall security operation in the absence of the Chief Security Officer.

Chief Security Officer

In charge of delegation and overall security operation onboard a cruise ship.

Our main boss is the Staff Captain – He is the Ship Security Officer and Chief Security Officer reports to him.
Staff Captain is also in charge of liaisoning to the Global Security base in Miami, but sometimes he delegates this task to the Chief Security Officer.
The number of crew working in the Security department depends on the size of the cruise ship. In Royal Caribbean’s Quantum class, for example, there are 20 Security Staff, 3 Security Supervisors, 2 Royal Security Officers, 1 Deputy Security Officer, and 1 Chief Security Officer.

5. Contract Length

The contract length for crew working in the Security department ranges from 6 months to a maximum of 8 months.

6. Security Staff Salary

Salary for security staff varies from company to company. Generally, the fixed salary ranges between 1600 – 1800 USD. We don’t get commissions and tips.

7. How Much Do I Need to Invest Before Joining a Cruise Ship?

This depends on the country where you are coming from, and also on the company you apply for.

In the Philippines, you need to invest around $700 for all the training certifications and paperwork. A medical examination is for free (provided by the Royal Caribbean, however, if you need to run again some tests, you need to pay for yourself). You get reimbursed for the Visa only.

Suggested article: New Hire? This is How Your First Day on a Cruise Ship Looks Like

8. Ship Life: Advantages and Disadvantages of Security Jobs on Cruise Ships

The main advantage of security jobs on cruise ships is that you will learn a lot and learning is a continuous process. Security personnel is considered the smartest people onboard – anything you don’t know, ask Security and you’ll get your answer 🙂

As I mentioned earlier, you get to travel the world for free, explore the ports, get to know people from all over the world, and meet different cultures. Life on the ship is truly different than any other land job.

The generous salaries are another huge motivation for the security jobs on cruise ships.

The main disadvantage is that you don’t have leisure time. Crew members working in the Security department don’t have much time to join any crew activities considering that we always work 24/7 and are the first to respond to any onboard emergencies.

Even when you have time, you are not able to enjoy it as you always think of the possibility that something might happen (and if you fail to perform your duties and responsibilities, it is tantamount to contract termination especially due to alcohol violation).

Security Staff has double-shared cabins and is not allowed to share a cabin with other departments due to security operations and working schedules.

Other than that, we have the same privileges as other no-stripe crew members (free accommodation, free food, access to crew events and activities, full medical insurance, crew gym, and generally crew areas).

Suggested article: Life onboard a Cruise Ship: 18 Crew Cabins Must-Haves

We adhere to the alcohol policy due to responsibilities in case of emergency even off duty. We don’t enjoy the shore leave like other crew members as we have duties during gangway operation except for when you are on night shift duty.

Yes, cruise ship security jobs require that you marry your profession. We have a huge responsibility because guests’ and crew’ safety and security depend on our performance.
I think it is crucial to love your job in order to perform it on the highest possible level.

To Conclude

Although it might seem stressful and tough, the overall experience is amazing because you get to travel the world (even though we don’t have much free time, sometimes we get time off to enjoy the ports of call), meet new people, and embrace new cultures.
I would recommend it to everyone willing to leave their comfort zone and grow both personally and professionally.
For me, working as Security Staff has been a rewarding and life-changing experience that I am very proud of.

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2 thoughts on “Crew Insight: What You Need to Know about Security Jobs on Cruise Ships”

  1. Hi there, hope you are doing well. I have a question, do security guards get time to travel the city at cruise stop. Actually I want to join as security guard in cruise so that I can travel the world too. I would really appreciate that if you provide me the details that when security guards get time to travel cities. I will be very thankful to you, here its my email address:

    1. Hello Abid, thank you for your interest in this article.. Security guards on cruise ships have very responsible jobs, so the time to actually explore the ports and destinations is quite limited. Nowadays, due to Covid-19 pandemic, it’s even more limited so I would suggest you speak to someone from Security department (I work as Shorex staff so I can’t be of much help, my comments are based on my observations). If you don’t know anyone, you can search for Facebook groups as there are so many of them, and you can seek advice over there. Have a great day!

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