Cruise Nurse – Career and Education Profile

If you love to both travel and help people, working as a cruise nurse is a great option, since it combines sunny vacations with medical work.

Job Responsibilities

Cruises nurses work as part of the medical staff on a cruise ship. You’ll get to travel with this job, but much of your time will be spent seeing patients who are ill or injured. All cruise ships employ doctors as well, but as a cruise ship nurse, you’ll be the person to first evaluate a patient and can often treat the patient without doctor involvement. Cruise ship nurses rarely deal with serious medical problems, but instead spend time helping patients suffering from illnesses such as sea sickness and minor injuries. You may also help patients who have prescription problems while traveling or can assist with fitness classes on board. In addition, cruise nurses sometimes have to help the medical team if there is a vacationer in an emergency situation, so you could assist with a helicopter rescue or in a mobile critical care unit if necessary.

Salary and Career Options

Cruise ship nurses typically make $25,000 to $35,000 annually, but keep in mind that when you work on a cruise ship, you’ll pay very little in housing and food costs. Cruise ships most commonly hire RNs, but some also hire LPNs or nurse practitioners, a special kind of advanced practice nurse.

Educational Requirements

In order to work on a cruise ship, you need at least an RN license, which requires a diploma, associate’s degree or bachelor’s degree from an accredited university. Most cruise ships require RNs to have at least two years of experience working at a hospital or physician’s office, and some positions require you to have experience or education in a certain specialty, such as geriatrics or cardiac care.


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