What It's Like to Work as a Medical Professional Onboard an Expedition Cruise Ship
For those in search of a little more adventure than your average cruise, a medical job onboard an expedition cruise ship offers incredible natural encounters in remote parts of our world. Let’s dig deeper, though, and learn what it’s really like to work on an expedition cruise.
Traditional Cruise Ships vs. Expedition Cruise Ships
First, it’s important to understand the differences between expeditions and traditional cruises. Expedition cruise ships are much smaller, which means fewer crew members sharing more responsibilities. This creates a strong sense of camaraderie. From eating and working out to land excursions, expedition crews are “in it together” aboard their home away from home.
Second, traditional cruise ships carry diverse passengers, including kids and older people, who may be more prone to illness and accidents. This keeps doctors and nurses busy with clinical and administrative tasks and leaves fewer opportunities to disembark. On expedition cruise ships, though, all passengers must be relatively fit and healthy, and medical teams accompany them on land-based adventures.
The third thing to know is that smaller ships are more susceptible to ocean movements, so crew members must be ready to adapt. Not only are large cruise ships more stable, but they typically stick to calmer waters, while expedition ships are designed for adventure. In short, get used to the effects of rough seas!
To learn more, we talked to three VIKAND medical team members currently working on expedition vessels in some of the world’s most adventurous locations. They were more than happy to share their experiences.
What it's Like to be a Nurse on an Expedition Cruise Ship
“The duties are a bit beyond traditional ship duties,” says Tatjana Marojevic, a nurse aboard Mystic Cruises’ MS World Explorer. “You’re a small team in charge of everyone’s safety and wellbeing in remote locations, so you have to be confident that you can handle difficult situations when evacuation is not possible. You will learn a lot about yourself, your capabilities and your endurance.”
Much like Tatjana, Reyna Bagsic cares for passengers as a nurse aboard the MS Spitsbergen, operated by Hurtigruten Expeditions.
“Being on an expedition ship will test your stamina, body and presence of mind,” she explains. “You need to be fit and healthy for land activities and exploration. As the nurse, I need to carry a rescue bag and perform first aid if a guest gets ill or injured.”
As challenging as the job can be, it’s afforded Reyna some life-changing experiences, from her first snowfall in the Norwegian fjords to staring in wonder at the aurora borealis, to encountering arctic wildlife such as whales and polar bears.
What it's Like to be a Doctor on an Expedition Cruise Ship
Dr. John Edward Lei describes similar experiences as our nurses. As a senior doctor aboard the MS Fridtjof Nansen, operated by Hurtigruten Expeditions, he also feels inspired by the natural beauty he encounters. However, as Reyna found, this privilege comes with responsibilities.
“I am responsible for the general health of the crew and passengers, but I also have duties on the landing site,” he explains. “You have to be able to hike with an expedition medical bag in case urgent care is needed.”
During his time as an expedition cruise physician, Dr. Lei has kayaked glaciers, seen polar bears, listened to talks by leading scientists and expanded his understanding of the world. “Working on an expedition ship has made me appreciate the beauty and fragility of our planet,” he says. “It’s a privilege to experience what other people can't.”
Challenging Work With Valuable Rewards
Above all, an expedition cruise ship job is incredibly stimulating. “The atmosphere is always positive, even when we’re stressed.” says Tatjana. “It’s always full of new things, whether new places or learning new information about nature, culture and changes in our environment. It can be a very educational place with a lot of interesting people.”
If you’re interested in expanding your world with a medical job on an expedition cruise ship, explore our Shipboard Jobs page and apply today!