Career Spotlight: Cruise Ship Nursing

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Picture of cruise ship at sea
This post was originally published in 2012 and was updated in 2022.

Do you enjoy cruising? Did you know that nurses work on cruise ships tending to sick passengers on their vacation?

Cruise ship nursing is not for the faint of heart considering that you’ll be aboard a ship for an extended duration of time and might not have a lot of downtime to explore when a sick passenger comes along. 

I learned so much while researching cruise ship nursing for my book. Wow, what a job!

It’s not all fun in the sun for these nurses who may spend up to 4 months at a time on contract. Cruise ship nursing would be best for a nurse who has ICU or ER experience who literally wants a change of scenery.

Add in the fact that the pandemic had people stuck on ships due to quarantine, cruise ship nursing comes with its own set of risks. When I first wrote this post never in a million years would I imagined people being stuck at sea because of a virus that spread worldwide. That’s the new reality you have to face if you’re interested in pursuing a career in cruise ship nursing. 

Cruise ships are typically laid-back environments that carry thousands of people to vacation destinations around the world. Unfortunately, during vacations passengers and crew members sometimes get sick. This is where the crusie ship nurse and other medical staff come in to care for those individuals.

Even though you may not see any medical staff while on vacation, all cruise ships have a medical team consisting of nurses and doctors behind the scenes in case of an emergency.

Patients on a ship may present with all kinds of acute and chronic illnesses that need to be treated. The medical team may encounter medical conditions ranging from myocardial infarctions, seasickness, to actual births!

Nurses in this career will need to have solid critical care and emergency nursing skills to build upon. Cruise ships have a hospital on-board with the appropriate number of medical personnel for the passengers on board. Even with the appropriate number of staff, the nurse will have to have skills in lab testing and radiology. The typical cruise ship hospital has consulting rooms, treatment rooms, in-patient beds, x-ray facilities, a lab, and a pharmacy in addition to diagnostic and emergency equipment and supplies.

Although the job as a cruise ship nurse may be challenging at times, there is downtime when you are not scheduled to work. In addition to regular salaries, medical personnel also get free room and board. Since there is a large potential patient population to a relatively small staff, being on call occasionally is required.

According to Cruise International, the salary for a cruise ship RN ranges from $2,800-$3,800 per month. If you are interested in more information on cruise ship nursing check out this list of top 25 cruise ship nursing blogs

Other resources you can check out:

#cruiseshipnursing #ICUnurse #ERnurse #Travelnurse

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