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The quick service industry boasts its versatility and diversity with career opportunities not only on-land but also off-land. With so many listed on job boards, where can you begin if you want to work onboard a cruise ship?

“It starts with a passion for the sea combined with the drive to strive in hotel and restaurant management,” says Mathieu Miousse, who is chief purser of the whole fleet at Coopérative de Transport Maritime et Aérien (CTMA). With more than 450 employees, the company is fully owned, managed, and operated by the islanders on Îles de la Madeleine.

At his current position, Misousse says he is “responsible for managing the housekeeping, the food and beverage department, the entertainment, and also in charge of the security to all passengers.”

He started working for the Merchant Vessel Vacancier in 2002. He had already been working for CTMA in a different capacity for eight years by then. He started out working as a housekeeper aboard the ferry MV Lucy Maud Montgomery in 1994.

According to Missouse, the basic academic requirement for starting a career in the quick service industry with a cruise line is a high school diploma.

“Your personal skills acquired in the field determine which job you should apply for, but a typical first job starts with training. There are jobs in housekeeping, guest services, and the food and beverage departments.”

Further skills you can learn by working on cruise ships include learning the at-sea security codes and the skills for becoming captain housekeeper, a bell boy at guest services, manager or the chief cook: “it all depends on you,” says Misousse.

He also mentions tertiary academic courses you can benefit from, such as navigation skills, engineering, guest services, and hotel management.

“Since training is provided onboard, you can progress very fast,” he says. “Every crew member is given a discharge book in which your time at sea is accumulated and every hour counts.”

Misousse says that working at sea alone is an untraditional type of work life but the charm lies in meeting people from all around the world and serving friends and family.

For him, “to lose the land going towards another land, back and forth, allows for my passion of the sea and hotel and restaurant management to be combined.”

The ever-progressing cruise line business has been researched and documented by the Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association. In their Cruise Industry Review - 2013, they state that the cruise industry is a rapidly growing category in the leisure-travel market. Since the 1980s, the industry has experienced an average annual passenger growth rate of approximately 7.2 per cent per year.

Since the 1990s, over 200 million passengers have taken cruise vacations. In 2012 alone, a record 20.3 million passengers were estimated to have cruised globally.

Photo: Robert Churchill/Thinkstock