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While the duties of a nurse aboard a cruise ship may be similar to her peers, her lifestyle certainly isn't. Cruise ship nurses contract with a cruise line for several months at a time and enjoy several weeks of vacation afterward. You can expect to work seven days a week for 10 hours a day or even more, according to Norwegian Cruise Line. But during your off hours, you're allowed to explore exotic ports of call and enjoy crew member facilities.
Cruise ship employees are generally paid on a monthly basis, as they work per assignment. As of 2012, registered nurses averaged $4,200 to $4,900 a month on a cruise ship, according to Cruise Ship Job. Chief nurses on cruise ships averaged $4,800 to $5,800 a month. On the job, you get to travel to destinations around the world while you and your medical team care for the well-being of 2,500 to 3,000 vacationers and crew members at any given time.
Nurses on Land
For the sake of comparison, registered nurses who work in more typical settings, such as hospitals and doctors' offices, averaged $65,470 a year in 2012, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. That works out to $5,455 a month before taxes, higher than the salary of a cruise ship nurse. However, nurses aboard cruise ships are given free lodging and as many as four free meals a day, allowing them to pocket a great deal more of their earnings.