Cruise Ship Photography

Picture yourself working onboard one of the world’s most celebrated Cruise Liners plying international waters in serious style and visiting glamorous destinations!  Now doesn’t that sound like a way to see the world?  By successfully completing the custom designed 1-3 week Cruise Ship Photography course in South Africa you’ll qualify for placement on board top cruise liners world wide.  Salaries are excellent, upfront costs are low and the opportunity to see the world is seriously impressive!

Job placements onboard a Cruise ship used to be impossible.  Not anymore!

This unique opportunity is open to anyone who is 21+ and who is looking for a new career or a couple of years out to see the world!  No previous photography experience is needed, although you will need to meet certain requirements in order to undertake the Cruise Ship Photography training course.  This 1-3 week training course (depending on photography expertise) is custom designed according to the technical standards of Cruise Ships will equip you with the necessary skills to be placed onboard a top international cruise liner.

Successful placement will mean you’ll receive a FREE flight to your departure point, hotel accommodation and transport to your ship.  Wages are excellent, you make great commission and you’ll have a chance to travel to some serious hot spots!  If you’re hard working, dynamic and customer orientated then this is the way to see the world!


To be accepted onto the Cruise Ship Photography training course and be put forward for subsequent placement you will need to qualify as outlined below:

  • Aged 21-35 years
  • No criminal record
  • Valid passport from South Africa (Unfortunately  temporary or student visas do not qualify)
  • You MUST  be healthy (applicants with back problems, Asthma or anyone on chronic medicine cannot be accepted)
  • Candidates are selected based on the ability to meet various behavioural, attitudinal and technical standards
  • Sufficient funds to pay for program fees, medical examination and visa
  • You will be required to engage pro-actively in the application process
  • No prior photography experience is required.  Your level of photographic expertise will determine whether you are required to do 1, 2 or 3 week photography course.  This will be assessed carefully upon application.


Season & Duration

Photography Training Courses

Training Courses run most months and take place in Cape Town.  The course takes 1-3 weeks depending on your prior experience (see course outline).

Upon successful completion of the photography course, and clear medical, you will be put forward for interview and placement.  Placement happens year round and usually take anywhere from  2-12 weeks.

Cruise Ship Placement contracts

Contracts run for 6-8 continuous months followed by six weeks vacation upon successful completion of contract.  Further contracts will be reviewed and renewed after your 1st contract.  Cruise ships companies are looking for long term committers.  Applicants who are simply looking for a gap year will unfortunately not be placed.

Why take to the Ocean as a Cruise Ship Photographer?

The most fantastic thing about working on a Cruise ship is that you get to see the world whilst you work!  Experience fantastic travel opportunities – USA, Caribbean, Mexico, South America, Mediterranean, Alaska, The Far East and even Antarctica!!!!   You will have enough free time to explore different ports and go on tours when you dock.  And if you need more of a reason that that…

  • High chance of placement onboard one of the worlds top cruise liners upon successful completion of the photography course, medical and interview.
  • Highest quality digital photography training that complies to the standards of the Cruise Ship Photography industry – this is worth doing in itself & a valuable addition to any CV
  • Earn a tax-free salary of $1200 per month + commission
  • No cost for food or lodging onboard
  • 100% medical coverage during your contract
  • Broaden your mind by working with a diverse team of people from different cultures
  • Photographers represent 34 nationalities and shipboard teams range from 1 to 28 Photographers
  • Unforgettable LIFE experience whilst living and working on a ship

Job Placement onboard a Cruise Liner

Your placement will be through one of the largest and most successful international photographic companies in the industry.  They have operations on multiple cruise line companies with a large number of ships around the world.  Successful completion of the training course ensures you have a very high chance of placement onboard a top international cruise liner.  However, since we are not in control of your interview or outcome of your medical check ultimately, job placements cannot be guaranteed.

If offered a job placement, you’ll be assisted with your visa and your flight will be booked for you.  Typically you’ll be flown into Miami, Florida to attend training before being issued your ship assignment.   Your first night (or nights) accommodation, plus transportation to join your ship will be provided.  The world is your oyster in terms of where you head to after training!  Routes all depend on the season and which liner you are with.  We recruit for all the major companies – Qunard, Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, Azamara…

Cruise Ship Photography Training Course

This Cruise Ship Photography Course is custom designed according to the technical standards of cruise ships and is the only South African Training Certificate accepted by the Cruise Ship Photographic Industry.  Whilst no prior photography experience is required to be accepted onto the course, your level of expertise will determine whether you take the course in 1, 2 or 3 weeks.  This will be carefully assessed upon application.

The photography training courses are run in Cape Town once or twice per month throughout the year.  The highest quality digital photography training is provided.  This course is a worthy addition to any CV and will really be your launch point into a career in photography.


This Intensive full time Photography Course is custom designed for approved applicants with no photography experience. Applicants must have a strong interest in photography or do photography as a hobby.  Sales or customer service experience will be to your advantage.  Successful completion of this course is a prerequisite to be accepted on the following 2 courses.


This course is for approved photographers with Certified Photographic + Photoshop Training as well as 2/3 years extensive freelance experience (as well as those completing week 1 above).  This course is for applicants who do not have sufficient Social photography experience or Studio knowledge. This 1 week full time training is a prerequisite to be accepted on the Cruise Ship Photography training below


This  1 week full time training is strictly offered to approved experienced photographers with a Photographic Degree / Diploma at an Accredited Institution with 2 years extensive experience in social & studio photography in the industry + sufficient Photoshop experience (and to those completing the courses above).  The training is designed and aimed at preparing photographers with a thorough knowledge of photography at sea.



Photography outcomes:

  • History of Photography and Visual Literacy
  • Camera functions, accessories, lenses and flash
  • Digital Photography – exposure, resolution, white balance, colour temperature, pixels, ISO    ratings, memory cards, software, downloading images, digital camera image noise, image types and sizes, shooting in RAW
  • Aperture and depth of field
  • Shutter and motion
  • Exposure, natural lighting, artificial lighting
  • Lenses and filters
  • Composition, perspective, viewpoint, design elements influencing photography
  • Specialized photography – night photography, travel, close-ups, portraits, sunsets, water and safari 

Photoshop outcomes:

  • Moving around the Photoshop workspace: toolbox, menus, palettes
  • Histograms, levels and curves: adjusting tonal values of photographs
  • Retouching with the clone stamp tool and the patch tool
  • Cropping and transforming Images
  • Using selection tools
  • Making colour adjustments
  • The effect of using Filters
  • Basic introduction to layers
  • The idea of masking to create hand-colouring
  • Opening, creating and saving Images
  • Photoshop keyboard shortcuts
  • Template design

Program outcomes:

  • Shipboard living conditions:  Cabins, food, uniforms, rules & regulations and safety
  • Customer Service:  The importance of excellent customer service, courtesy and going that extra mile to achieve high passenger satisfaction scores within the industry
  • Sales skills:   The importance of effective selling, selling the photo opportunity, and the right approach to passengers
  • Positive mental attitude:  The skills to keep a positive attitude to handle the long hours and the demands of this career
  • Communication skills:  The importance of having the ability to understand and communicate in an environment of cultural diversity
  • Harassment training:  How to handle uncomfortable situations and the correct procedures for dealing with these situations
  • Event shooting:  Embarkation, gangway, restaurant, decks, lounge and costume shoots.  Students will be given an understanding of the atmosphere in the dining room, gangways and other events that will be photographed throughout the ship. Composition, exposure, flash, and the importance of shooting quickly, efficiently and consistently will be stressed
  • Formal portrait lighting and composition:  A good understanding of the shipboard studio lighting, composition and posing will be covered
  • Lab basics:  All aspects of developing and printing in a mini-lab
  • Practical as well as theoretical exams. It is required to pass both exams before you can proceed further 

** The course has a very high pass rate due to the skill of instructors and the screening done prior to being accepted onto the course.  Should you fail to complete successfully, you will be allowed to retake the course at no extra cost.  

Application Process

To apply simply follow these easy steps:

  1. Ensure that you have read all the information on the Cruise Ship Photography program and qualify as outlined HERE
  2. Apply ONLINE with your basic Information.  Once we receive your application we’ll email you a detailed course application and medical form
  3. Complete the Cruise Ship Application and Medical form and email to along with a professional head and shoulders photo, motivation letter (stating why you should be considered for this application) and current CV.


Your application will be carefully reviewed by the course convener once all the above documents have been received and you’ll be contacted to set up an interview and run through any questions you have.  All applicants must go through the full application process in order to be accepted on the course.  Documents will not be reviewed unless complete

Terms & Conditions

Please speak to your Chilli Adventures Program co-ordinator for program specific terms and conditions.

Training Course Costs

There is no charge for your job placement, flights or additional placement expenses.  You simply pay for the training course and additional application costs as outlined.


Comprehensive Photography Course (First week) – R3 900 

Social Photography Course  (Second Week) – R3 500

 Cruise Ship Photography Course (Third week) – R3 500 


Your level of expertise will be carefully evaluated at application to confirm whether you  join the course at week 1, week 2 or week 3.  Total course cost (for all 3 weeks) is R10,900.  See Course Outline for detailed information on the courses. 


Photography Course Fees Include:

  • All course lectures and materials
  • Assistance with police check, medical, and visas (either C1/D visa for the USA or Shengan for Europe)
  • Photography job placement onboard a cruise liner if eligible
  • FREE International Flight and transportation to join your ship
  • First night / nights accommodation until you board the ship
  • All accommodation and living expenses whilst on board the ship

Additional Costs

The following costs should be considered in addition to the cost of the photography course:

  • Pre-training medical assessment (if not completed by your GP) = +/- R350
  • Accommodation and travel costs to attend Training Course in Cape Town
  • Full Cruise Ship Medical exam and certificate = R3000-R4000
  • Dental examination and certificate
  • US Consulate Visa Fee = USD $160
  • Criminal Clearance Certificate = +/- R100
  • Bermuda Seaman’s Book = USD $160
  • Spending money for personal expenses upon arrival (recommended $300)

Expected Earnings

Once you’re onboard and working you’ll start earning a tax-free salary of $1200 per month, plus commission (which is significant and can often be $700+).  Remember also that you eat, sleep and live for free on board so your wages are literally spending money (or savings if you’re more disciplined!)  You’ll also get crew discounts at shops onboard.  Hard work, motivation and reliability brings advancement up through the ranks and with it, a much higher salary.  Your second contract will also see you earning higher wages.

Getting set up

Where in the past you’ve had to purchase a camera and contribute to your uniform costs, that is no longer the case.  These are generally provided at no additional cost.

Cost of Living Onboard

Nada!  Zilch!  Zipo!  Zero…. or pretty much nothing!  What you earn is literally what you get to spend (or save) since your living expenses onboard are covered. That includes accommodation and all meals.

Frequently Asked Questions

Lots of questions buzzing through your head? This may help you out!

Q: Do i qualify if I’m not currently studying? 
A: Yes


Q: Can I do this for only 8 months or a year? 
A:  The short answer is unfortunately no.  Cruise ship recruiters are looking for people that see this as a potential career and will work through a couple of seasons at least.  Those looking for a short term or gap-year opportunity are not highly sought after


Q: Do I need to have a camera for the photography course? 
A:  No.  Cameras are provide for the course.


Q: It’s quite expensive when I add everything up.  Whats the best way to save for this
A:  You’re more than welcome to apply now and if accepted you can decide when you would like to do the training based on your own budget.


Q:  Can I take part in the program if I’ve just matriculated? 
A: Unfortunately not.  You need to be 21 years of age.


Q: How do I apply for my US visa? 
A:  Visa documentation will be provided by the Cruise Ship recruitment company and we’ll give you assistance to go through the application process.


Q: Am I covered if I have an accident whilst onboard?
A: Yes, once you’re working you’ll be provided with medical and accident coverage by the cruise ship.


Q: Am I guaranteed a job onboard a cruise ship?
A:  Since we are not in control of the outcome of your medical or your interview we cannot guarantee this.  Essential the final decision lies with the Cruise Ship HR recruiter.  We do however have a very high success rate for placements following successful completion of the training course and clear medical.