The Truth About Massage Therapy Jobs on Cruise Ships


If you interested in becoming a cruise line massage therapist, you may imagine that the job involves a lot of adventure and a bit of relaxation. A cruise line massage therapy career may be adventurous, but it can also be challenging. It is up to you to decide whether the rewards of working on a ship outweigh the demands.

Basic Requirements

  • Massage therapists may begin to search for cruise line jobs by signing up with a placement agency. The agency will research cruise lines and help with applications, often charging a one-time fee of about $50, according to Most cruise lines expect therapists to be licensed and qualified in a number of modalities, typically including Swedish and deep-tissue massage. Therapists who end up being hired are also trained in a variety of treatments, such as body wraps and reflexology, for 1 to 6 weeks before they board for their first contract.


  • The majority of spa management companies expect employees to be able to sign on to contracts that last between 5 and 8 months. This means that employees should be able to go long periods of time without seeing loved ones. A cruise ship career is ideal for someone who is single without children. Potential employees must be immunized, have a passport and be willing to submit to a drug test and physical exam. Employees must become first-aid certified and able to perform regular emergency drills on the ship.


  • In an article on, originally published in the October/November 2003 issue of "Massage and Bodywork" magazine, Ruthanne Johnson says that a massage employee's main income is from tips and commission. This means that how much a person makes as a therapist depends how many services and products he or she is able to sell. Shifts are often rigorous (without much downtime between massages) and may last between 10 and 12 hours in 1 day, 5 to 6 days per week. Employees may receive a small base pay on top of tips and commission, and can expect to make at least $200 up to $800 or more each week. They may be able to pick up side work on the ship or at ports of call if time permits. The biggest perk of the job is not the income but the free room and board on a cruise ship.

Living Quarters

  • The living quarters for employees are in the style of a dormitory and typically include two people of the same sex from the same employment area of a ship. They are often cramped and have bunk beds and small closets, but come with their own bathrooms, televisions, desks and phones. Employees are unlikely to spend much time in their rooms due to their hectic schedule, and because there are common crew member areas (such as the cafeteria and gym) where they can also spend their spare time.


  • Employees are unlikely to get much privacy because they will be surrounded by other crew members and passengers most of the time. However, being on a cruise ship allows them to develop close friendships with people from all over the world. There is occasionally enough time for crew members to explore when ships stop at ports of call, where they can perhaps volunteer to help guide a tour or join a crew excursion. This gives them a chance to see the world at a discount.

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