How to get personal trainer jobs on cruise ships plus skills

Updated 20 December 2022

If you're passionate about fitness and health, working as a personal trainer can be a great career for you. After obtaining your qualifications for the role, you may consider more traditional jobs or choose a less conventional path, like working on a cruise ship. As a personal trainer working on a cruise ship, you can lead fitness classes for passengers and get a chance to travel the world. In this article, we show you how to get personal trainer jobs on cruise ships and explain key skills for this role.

What are personal trainer jobs on cruise ships?

Personal trainer jobs on cruise ships are forms of employment that allow fitness professionals to pursue a less conventional work style. In addition to leading classes, personal trainers who choose this path may be responsible for various organisational and safety tasks, like supervising the gym. Depending on the size of the ship where they work, fitness instructors usually report to the ship's beauty salon or spa manager.

Related: 9 entry-level jobs on a cruise ship with salaries and duties

How to get personal trainer jobs on cruise ships

Finding personal trainer jobs on cruise ships requires you to start by getting a diploma and making sure you meet a cruise line's entry requirements. Here's how to get a job on a cruise ship as a personal trainer:

1. Get a diploma

If you aspire to become a personal trainer, it's good to start by obtaining a level two fitness instructor diploma. A course of this type allows you to learn about human anatomy and health. It also prepares you for planning exercise programmes to meet clients' individual needs. If you decide to obtain this qualification part-time, it's likely to take you around six weeks.

Once you have your level 2 diploma, you're eligible for working in gyms and further advancing your career, for example, by obtaining a level three personal trainer diploma. The personal trainer course is a more advanced programme that allows you to specialise in personal training. It also teaches you how to adjust fitness goals and exercise to meet specific groups' requirements, including seniors or people with disabilities.

Read more: How to become a personal trainer in 4 steps (plus tips)

2. Gain work experience

As soon as you obtain your diploma, consider securing a job at a gym or another fitness facility. Even if you start as a part-time personal trainer, it's likely to help you become more comfortable when interacting with clients and helping them meet their fitness goals. At this stage, you might also start preparing for working on a cruise ship, for instance, by leading open classes for different age groups.

Related: 9 wellness careers (with salaries and requirements)

3. Complete specialisation courses

Many jobs on cruise ships pay well and offer additional benefits, like the opportunity to travel the world. For these and similar reasons, they can be highly competitive. As a personal trainer who already has at least six months of experience in the role, you can make your candidate profile more attractive to cruise line recruiters by completing specialisation courses. Some courses to consider include exercise to music, yoga, pilates, corrective exercise or bodybuilding.

Related: What does a personal trainer do? (With how to become one)

4. Make sure you meet the requirements

Before you apply for a job on a cruise ship, make sure you meet the employer's requirements. For example, some cruise lines introduce age restrictions for personnel who work in specific sections of their ships. Depending on the ship's country of origin, employers often accept applicants who are above the age of 18 or 21. Although they may not disclose the maximum age to work for them, some cruises almost exclusively consider candidates below the age of 35.

5. Check your passport

Holding a valid passport is a key requirement for working on any international cruise ship. Employers may require your passport is valid for at least one more year from the day you board the ship. Before submitting your application, gather and check all your documents. If your passport is within six months of its expiration date, consider renewing it.

Related: How to work abroad: benefits and step-by-step guide

6. Research different cruise lines

The cruise industry offers different personal trainer work opportunities and spending some time analysing their work conditions can help you make sure you're satisfied with your job. In addition to selecting your ideal destination, consider what facilities, equipment and schedules the cruise companies can offer you. Analysing this information in advance can help you choose a job that makes your life on a cruise ship comfortable. In addition, remember to analyse how much you can earn in each job.

Related: How much does a cruise ship worker make (with role examples)

7. Prepare your application

When researching available positions for personal trainers on cruise ships, it's time to prepare your application. Depending on the cruise line's guidelines, there are two main ways to apply. Some companies ask you to apply directly via their website and some require you do it through a recruitment agency that represents them. Typically, each company's website includes a FAQ section which you can visit to read application instructions. Cruise line recruitment includes elements of a traditional application process, for example, it may require you to submit a standard CV and cover letter.

Related: How to create a personal trainer CV (with example)

8. Undergo medical checks

Providing a health certificate is a standard requirement for ship crew members. Some employers agree to proceed with your job offer only when you undergo a thorough medical check, like an ENG-1 seafarer medical certificate. Usually, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) approves of specific physicians who can conduct this exam. Reviewing the list of doctors the MCA approved can help you determine where to go for this check.

Related: 10 medical certifications you can easily get (with benefits)

9. Get a visa

If you got a job that requires you to travel abroad, it may be necessary to apply for a visa. For example, if you decide to work as a personal trainer on an American cruise ship, the employer may require you to obtain a permit for transitioning through the USA and remaining in that country as a member of the ship crew. Visa requirements can be quite strict. For instance, it may be necessary that you present the government representative with a formal proof of employment that you can obtain from the cruise company after they offer you a job.

Key skills for personal trainers working on cruise ships

In addition to their knowledge of anatomy and experience leading fitness classes, personal trainers on cruise ships have a variety of other skills that help them work safely and effectively at sea. These competencies include:

Foreign language proficiency

A personal trainer on a cruise ship is a customer-facing role. Since it requires you to interact with passengers daily, it's necessary that you can communicate with them well, even when they're from a foreign country. Demonstrating foreign language fluency during your job interview can help you impress recruiters and show you have the resources necessary for working with both local and international clients.

Related: Ways to learn new languages for free (with benefits)

Knowledge of the ship's spa services and sales skills

Personal trainers who are members of the ship crew usually work as wellness professionals for the ship's beauty salon or spa. In addition to leading fitness classes and supervising the gym, it's also their role to recommend other treatments or classes. Many ships require their personal trainers to meet daily or weekly sales targets, for which knowledge of the spa's full offer is necessary.

Understanding of cruise ship safety guidelines

As a personal trainer and thanks to your high level of fitness, it may be your responsibility to assist passengers during safety drills or real emergencies. For example, you may be responsible for helping them board rescue boats. Having an expert understanding of the ship's safety regulations and guidelines is a skill you usually develop during your first few days as a member of the crew. Consider refreshing your knowledge every time you board a new cruise.

Please note that none of the companies, institutions or organisations mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

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