A cruise is a great place to workcation—if you know how
What I Learned about Working Remotely from a Cruise Ship
My husband and I went on two cruises last year. The first cruise we bought in a Black Friday sale, and the second one we booked while we were on board the first to take advantage of the rebook discount.
We enjoyed ourselves immensely. But my husband has one of those jobs where his colleagues can’t survive without him, so he ended up working on both trips.
This got me thinking … cruises are great places to work remotely! You have a quiet space, all the food you can eat, and fun activities just minutes away. Plus, depending on your job, you can even work from a hot tub or while getting a pedicure!
Here are the deets.
Why I want to work from a cruise ship
Here’s why I think a cruise is an excellent remote work choice:
- It’s relatively inexpensive. Cruises are a cost-effective way to travel. You get transportation, housing, food, and fun, all for a flat fee! Well, mostly. You have to pay extra for some things, like alcohol, internet, and day trips off the ship. But you can keep costs low by being conservative with your drinking, browsing, and sightseeing choices.
- It’s fun. A cruise ship is like a floating resort. On board, you can find comedians, theatrical performances, movies, trivia, exercise classes, swimming pools, water slides, fine dining, shopping opportunities—so many ways to relax and have a good time when you’re off the clock! One of the ships I went on even had an escape room (sadly, not open at the time because of COVID).
- It’s comparatively easy. You don’t have to find an apartment, bring adaptors, or scout the perfect local coffee shop with good food and Wi-Fi. When you book a cruise, a lot of the fussy details are pre-arranged for you.
So, are you on board? (Pun intended.) Excellent! Now let’s talk logistics.
Questions to answer before working remotely on a cruise
Wait to book your cruise until you’ve figured out if it’s a good choice for you.
Are you eligible?
Cruise ship remote work is more about company policies than passports and visas.
Yes, some cruises require passports, so if you’re on one of those, you want the proper documentation. But in this case, I’m talking about company tax kerfuffles.
According to an article on maritime taxation, money earned in international waters by U.S. citizens is considered “sourced in the United States.” That may mean that regardless of your company’s work location rules, you can work on a cruise ship as long as you want. But you want to talk to your company’s HR and legal to make sure!
Happily, if you’re self-employed, this probably won’t be a concern for you.
Where will you go?
You can cruise quite a few different places. Popular locations include:
- The Caribbean
- Northern Europe
- The Mediterranean
Most cruises follow seasonal weather patterns, so where you go determines when you go or vice versa.
For instance, according to Cruise Critic, you likely won't see a Mediterranean cruise offered during the winter as the seas can get rough. If you want to cruise the shores of sunny Spain over Christmas, it almost certainly won’t happen.
You can also find river cruises offered year-round worldwide, although these cruises don't have sea days (days where you spend all day on the ship)—which means they aren't ideal for remote workers.
Where will you work?
On a cruise ship, the question of where you’ll stay is easily answered: your cabin, of course! But the question of where to work is a little trickier.
By default, your cabin can be a great place to dig into your workload. However, it’s not the only option.
Some cruises have business centers, but you won’t find those on every ship. And depending on what kind of work you do, you can get things done while relaxing on the deck, in the spa, or somewhere else calm and quiet.
What gear will you need to work?
Second, in most cases, you need internet access! I can’t speak for all cruise lines, but with Royal Caribbean, we had to buy an internet package separately so my husband could be connected.
The package covered only two devices at a time, so we rotated between his laptop, his phone, my phone, and my Kindle.
Unfortunately, the Wi-Fi was expensive, but it was the only option. With no towers nearby, our cell phones had no service. Not even an international data plan would have helped.
But in good news, the plugs worked with our American devices without adapters. That may not be standard on all cruise lines, though, so it’s good to check ahead.
How often will you work?
Cruises are tricky because you have days at sea and days on land. In most cases, you may want to restrict your work days to sea days so you can enjoy the on-land excursions.
So you realistically won’t be working every day on a cruise ship—more like every other or third day. In between, you’ll likely need to take vacation time.
What will you do when you're not working?
Here’s a sample of the entertainment options on my cruises. I’ve broken them into a few different categories for you: shows, classes, exercise/sports, kid-oriented activities, and adult-oriented activities.
You’ll see some crossover between categories. And of course, not every ship will have all of these.
Want to see a full-scale musical production while a ship is rocking and pitching? Or is another form of entertainment more your style? Take your pick from a bunch of different shows!
- Live music
- Live comedy
- Diving shows
- Ice shows
- Magic shows
- Game shows
If you like to start your day off with an instructor-led warm up or like to learn new things, a class or lecture is just the thing.
- Zumba classes
- Dance classes
- Yoga classes
- Towel-folding demos
Exercise and sports
If you like to move it move it, you’ll see a few different options!
- Ice skating
- Rock climbing
- Swimming pools
If you’re worried your kids won’t have anything to do on a cruise, don’t be. I saw plenty of kid-friendly entertainment on my ships.
- Kid lounge
- Candy and ice cream shop
- Soft-serve machine
- Virtual boardwalk games
- Splash pads
- Water slides
- Normal slides
You also don’t have to be worried that everything will be dumbed down to include kids, either. I have it on good authority that even Disney cruises have excellent adult-only fun.
- Escape room
- Art gallery
- Spa (complete with massages, facials, manicures, and pedicures)
- Sports bar
- Floating bar
- Robot-run bar
As you can see, there’s way more stuff to do than there is time. And that’s without counting the sightseeing options during the days in port! For instance, I tried fried conch meat in Nassau, climbed a waterfall in Jamaica, visited a lavender factory in France, and saw the ruins of Pompeii in Italy.
The best part of the entertainment is most of it is a few minutes away, making it über easy to slip away from your workstation and then head right back. No travel time required!
Of course, cruising isn’t for everyone. If the thought of the high seas makes you seasick, check out our articles on working in Ireland or Mexico instead. You can also look at our guide to the best cities for remote workers!