Working on board as a Nursing Officer

Ryan Longthorn Cruise Ship Nurse


What made you decide to work as a cruise ship nurse?

I have always loved the thought of travelling and wanted to use my career to take advantage of this passion.

What was the recruitment process like for you?

I applied for the role in February 2017. Shortly after this, I had a telephone interview. I was then invited to an interview day a few weeks later in Carnival House. This day consisted of a written exam, a group discussion and an individual interview. The process was very smooth and I was kept fully informed throughout the whole process.

After finding out that I had been successful, I completed all the compliance requirements and joined my first ship in Barcelona in July 2017.

Throughout the whole process, somebody from recruitment kept in touch with me regularly to assist in completing the onboard requirements including visa applications and training.

What are the medical facilities like on board?

Onboard our ships, we have excellent medical facilities. We have a number of machines in our laboratories to process blood tests including haematology, biochemistry, cardiac panels & arterial blood gases. We also have a number of investigations to test for conditions such as influenza, Covid-19, dengue fever, malaria, hepatitis, HIV and streptococcal pharyngitis.

Our medical centres have dedicated wards set up to ensure we can effectively manage a number of conditions. Some of these facilities include central cardiac monitoring, ventilators, arterial and central lines, non-invasive ventilation, blood transfusion & x-ray.

Do you get off the ship much?

If we are not on-call, we are able to get off the ship once clinic has finished. Before the Covid-19 pandemic, we would be able to get off the ship in most ports as we would work a day shift and a night shift every 4 or 5 days.

What do you get up to when you are not on-call?

When I’m not on-call, I would normally get off the ship if we were in port. There is also a seafarer’s welfare committee onboard who organise events for crew members. We also have deck privileges, so we can go and enjoy many of the restaurants and venues onboard like our guests do.

As a cruise ship Nurse, what is the most interesting/bizarre case you have had to deal with on board?

The most interesting case I have been involved in was a patient who had a large bleed requiring a blood transfusion. It was a fascinating situation that required healthy guests to donate blood to the patient until we could get to a shoreside facility. A large number of guests donated their blood and saved the patient’s life.

What is a typical day like for a Nurse on board a cruise ship?

A day usually consists of a GP style clinic in the morning, followed by a day out in port. If we are at sea, we would eat lunch in our officer’s mess and then enjoy some time on deck. We would then have our afternoon clinic and then dinner onboard either in the officer’s mess or in one of the guest restaurants. The evening is then everyone’s to enjoy how they like. This could include going to one of the shows in the theatre or going to see one of the special guest entertainers.

What is your fondest memory of working on board?

The best part about working onboard is the number of people you get to meet. Ships are a community and you quickly meet friends for life who work in all different departments onboard.

Are there progression opportunities?  

Once all professional development grades have been achieved as a nursing officer, you can apply to become a senior nurse. This would usually be after a year as a nursing officer in order to develop maritime knowledge and skills required for the role.

If you are interested in exploring the world as a Nurse, please click here to find out more.