Cruises are a popular vacation past-time for everyone across the globe. You’re in the middle of the ocean with nothing in sight, you sit back, relax and eat, while the ship goes to different countries. Medical mishaps can occur at any time but when you’re on a cruise, there’s always a doctor on board.
Cruise ship doctors are responsible for both the health concerns of the passengers as well as the staff. On larger cruises, there may be two doctors who split the duties down the middle: one for staff, one for passengers. Some cruises operate on a hierarchy where the newbie gets the brunt of the work and the night call.
One interview of an actual physician for Carnival CruiseLines states the salary is as competitive as shoreside primary care doctors. But several websites state the average is $4,000 to $8,000 per month. And that depends on your experience in practicing medicine on cruises. That’s about $60,000 to $96,000 per year. That’s definitely lower than primary care doctors.
But don’t forget the benefits :
- free food
- free room
- free housekeeping
- free healthcare insurance
- free travel to the cruise ship
- free travel to gorgeous places
So how much would that be worth? Let’s be modest and say that on average in the US you pay 1500 a month for rent and 400 a month for food. That would be $22,800 saved per year! That doesn’t even count the travel costs and health insurance costs. So really, that would bring up your earnings up to the lower end of what a primary care doctor would make.
My best guess is that physicians can be hired from any country so long as they are qualified. Physician compensation in other countries are currently being heralded as being much cheaper than their American counterparts. So, outsourcing employees in this manner makes it less expensive for companies. With that said, American physicians are still in demand and might even be preferred.
If a year’s worth of sea legs is not that enticing for you, don’t worry. You don’t have to sign up for a year. You can also do short term contracts that are 4 months long. So if you’re pining for a change of pace, searching for a part-time gig, or just want to bask in the limelight as a uniformed senior officer who wines and dines passengers, you might enjoy being a Cruise Ship Doctor.