100 years ago seafarers were almost expected to have tattoos. Nowadays, however, it is more a curse than a blessing to have tattoos whilst trying to find work on board cruise ships.
Some cruise lines are more lenient regarding visible tattoos, but others are extremely strict.
The first criteria is which job you are looking for. For position with no passenger contact, tattoos are not a big issue. It also depends on how visible the tattoos are when you are in your uniform, and the type of tattoo. Tattoos on the face, neck and hands/knuckles often will prevent you from being successful with a job application.
I have worked with a Provision Master who had hardly any passenger contact, and he had a tattoo on the side of his neck. If that tattoo was a symbol which promotes xenophobia, was pornographic or offensive in any way he would probably not have been hired.
If you are looking for a job with passenger contact, you should be prepared to conceal all tattoos that would be visible when wearing your Uniform. There are a lot of products on the market to conceal tattoos. I have also seen people use band-aids to cover smaller tattoos. However, one of the crew members I worked with looked like she had been in a major accident due to patches of band aids on her forearms and neck!
While the cruise line accepted that, she got a bit annoyed being continually asked what had happened to her.
Whatever method you choose, I suggest you do a "test run" on how well you can conceal your tattoos, to see how the end result will look.
If you have tattoos on arms, hands or legs and plan to work on-board a cruise ship in a position with guest contact, here is a check list to see how likely you are to be successful with your application:
If you are willing and able to cover your tattoos whilst in Uniform, and you still want to work on-board a cruise ship, I suggest you go for it.
When asked about tattoos in the hiring process – if you have done the above – you can relax and tell the recruiter that you have tattoos, but have researched how to conceal them and are willing and able to do so.
If you plan to submit a photo with your application you should already show how you do this – just don't conceal your tattoos with Photoshop or the likes.
Safe and happy sailing.