Emerging River Cruise Industry Brings a Bevy of New Opportunity

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Looking for a career on a cruise ship? Stop looking on the open seas.

River cruising is growing in popularity, as is the potential for jobs in the industry.

According to the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), there were 18 new river cruise ships on order for 2016. A few weeks ago, CLIA released their 2017 State of the Cruise Industry Outlook, which showed that there will be an increase in cruise travel to continue throughout 2017.

What does that mean to you? A growth in industry means an increase in jobs. 

If you’ve always dreamt of a job where you can travel down some of the most famous rivers in the world—the Rhine, the Main, Danube, and Seine—then a job on a river boat is perfect for you. There are even opportunities to work on a river boat in the United States as well. Here, for example, you can travel the Mississippi River on the American Queen Steamboat Company.

What kind of jobs are available?

In The Kitchen

River cruisers need to eat (and eat well). So, there is a great need for chefs, sous chefs, assistant cooks to feed them. Kitchen employees must have a pleasant personality because you will, at times, be serving or possibly greeting guests. These jobs require culinary skills and experience as well as computer experience for ordering inventory, etc.

Activities Manager

After the cruise docks, the guests will disembark and participate in shore-excursion activities. The manager is responsible for arranging these activities and finding the activities that provide the biggest revenue for the cruise lines. To do this job successfully, you’ll need to understand the ports of call where the cruise lines dock, be service oriented and be able to manage the activities.


A steward is a person who looks after the passengers on the cruise. There are utility stewards who make sure to clean and maintain the galleys and stateroom as well take care of laundry and common areas. Typically a steward is required to have an 8th grade or higher education, must be able to follow cleanliness and safety rules and regulations and some experience in the hospitality field. It’s important that a steward has a pleasant personality because of the interaction with the passengers.


When there’s a cruise, there’s great food, activities and great drinks. So, of course, the river cruises need a bartender to make and serve the libations. You should have some experience as a bartender, and some cruise lines require that the experience be an upscale cruise line or hotel of comparable size. The bar also needs waiters and waitresses.


Let’s not forget that the river cruise needs an experienced crew and a leader to take care of the entire boat. These persons are responsible for the safe operation of the vessel at all times. The safety of the staff and the guests is in their hands. Of course, these positions require a high-degree of experience and certification, which varies depending on the river boat company. Remember, however, that river cruising is a great deal different from the open ocean due to smaller spaces and shallower waters.

If you earn a position on a river boat, you will both live and work onboard a vessel, typically on a rotational basis. It’s a great way to be paid to see the world—one amazing river at a time.

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