Do Cruise Ships Have Pharmacists?

A pharmacist is a medical professional who is qualified to prepare and dispense medicinal drugs. People often think that the duties and responsibilities of pharmacists are just to count pills. But, this is not true. The job of a pharmacist is not limited to that. As a pharmacist, you will be responsible for various tasks like dispensing medication, guiding customers regarding medication usage, checking on stock, etc.

When it comes to pharmacy, there are various career fields. Based on your interest and skill set, you can work in a community pharmacy, clinical pharmacy, hospital pharmacy, compounding pharmacy, industrial pharmacy, consulting pharmacy, ambulatory care pharmacy, regulatory pharmacy, home care pharmacy, etc.

If you are interested in a cruise ship career, you may wonder whether cruise ships have pharmacists? Is it possible to become a cruise pharmacist?

So is there a Pharmacist working on all those cruise ships out there? 

Most all Cruise ships do not have pharmacists. Instead of a pharmacy, they have on the counter medication stocked. These on the counter medications include few medications like cough medicine and Tylenol. For the expensive live on cruise ships for the wealthy yes they do usually have a Pharmacist or more on board. 

Instead of pharmacists, a cruise ship usually has a doctor and a hospital. All lifesaving medicines are onboard to ensure the safety of passengers. On cruise ships, you will find treatments for common problems like colds, headaches, etc. If any cruise passenger has a severe health problem, there is an onboard medical center, which has a wide variety of medicines available.

The cruise ship may have a wide variety of medicines available onboard, but it is not possible to get a prescription when you forget to bring yours. In short, if any person wants to get a medical prescription from the medical center at the cruise ship, it is usually not possible.

Cruise Ship Pharmacist Do They Exist?

So we didn’t want you to just take our word for it on this matter. We don’t see much information out there besides one youtube video and some comments. So we went to Pharmacist and Doctor forums to gather information from others who are searching for this information. There are some Current and Past Pharmacists that give their take as well.

We curated this information from multiple sites including forums the only thing we changed was any spelling or grammar where needed.

Here is the video most people have seen and questioned:

Real Opinions: Cruise Ship Pharmacist

1. CleverLikeMe “Apparently they do exist” – Youtube video out there states there are and
apparently there is one, she’s blonde, and she likes to ride bikes and laugh at fun things with her friends.
Serious comment – I imagine the pharmacy part of the job would be about the same as retail pharmacy anywhere. For the other aspects, there was a great thread somewhere on reddit a few months back that talked about people with jobs (in general) on cruise ships. Bad hours, lots and lots of drama, lots of drinking.

2. MicroLovesMacro “Used to exist” –

Awesome video. When I used Google, I just got loads of job sites for low level cruise staff and a few for doctors and nurses.

Sadly, someone else mentioned the pharmacy job was removed and replaced with other medical personnel. Now I’ll never be able to live the cruise ship pharmacist life.

That video was my only glimpse of my ideal fantasy. Sigh. I guess I just quit now. There’s nothing left for me out there!

3. PharmJize “Not sure on video having any truth” – I’ve watched that video before because I, myself, looked into a cruise ship pharmacist role. The maker of the video is some weird Australian pharmacy school? Heres their website: I literally couldn’t find any information at all about the profession except for that video. There wasn’t even anything on their website about it. So I sent that youtube account a message asking for more information, that was over a year ago…

4. Traveler “Pharmacist really not needed on cruise ship” – I’d imagine laws are different or non-existent in international waters, and you can probably just have the doc/NP/tech dispense everything including controls. They don’t even use pharmacists on US navy ships except for the 2 hospital ships, techs there do everything.

5. PharmMan “Just doesn’t make sense” –

Heres the honost truth:

It def would NOT suck. This would be the greatest experience ever, like HELLO?!?!? Everyone here is just jelly beans of cruise ship ppl.

I have to doubt the validity of that student. Sounds like the information could have gotten scrambled by the time it got back to you. We are all familiar with the telephone game, correct? 2a) I only doubt the validity because I have spent so much time searching for such a position and it simply does not exist. u/cleverlikeme posted a link of an Australian pharmacy schools advertisement for becoming a cruise pharmacist. In short, I even tried to contact that school and never heard anything back.

Think about this logically guys; you really don’t need a pharmacist on a cruise ship…I love our profession and stuff, but its just really not that important.

Now if you want to know all about exotic pharmacy jobs, I’m the man to talk to! Best one I’ve seen so far is in Antarctica, and yours truly is going to apply next year! (I’m actually probably not going to get it though)…

Other cool exotics are Zoo pharmacists and actually NASA has one pharmacist (she doesn’t actually leave earth). Haven’t really seen anything very exciting besides those 3.

Do cruises have doctors onboard?

The answer is Yes. Almost all cruise ships have at least one doctor and two nurses on board. The number of doctors and nurses on the cruise ship is usually based on its size. For example, many larger cruise ships sail have two doctors and three or four nurses onboard.

Having enough medical staff inside the cruise ship is very important as it ensures passengers’ safety and security. According to the American College of Emergency Physician guidelines, ships must have medical staff on call 24 hours.

If we talk about Royal Caribbean International, they have a minimum of one fully licensed doctor and a minimum of two licensed nurses onboard every ship. This number may differ depending on the ship’s size, the number of passengers, and a number of crew members. Depending on that, each ship may have one to three licensed doctors and three to five nurses.

Do cruise ships have a jail?

The answer is Yes. Most cruise ships have a jail. The jail cell in the ship is hidden away at the bottom of the vessel. Cruise ships’ jail on a vessel is known as a brig. A brig consists of a small room and a toilet. Locking inside the brig would help any person inside the cruise ship seem intoxicated or dangerous outside.

Where can you buy medicine on a cruise?

To buy medicine on a cruise ship, just head on the onboard shop. In the shop, they have all the medication for all types of common medical problems. In the onboard shop, you will not be able to buy strong medicines. They just have medicines for common health problems.

List Of Healthcare Jobs On Cruise Ships

As we have seen, there are no pharmacies in cruise ships. Except for pharmacists, there are other healthcare staff. If you are interested in working on the cruise as healthcare staff, check out the below-given list. Here is the list of healthcare jobs on cruise ships:

Cruise ship chief / Senior doctor

One of the highest-ranking Medical Officer and the Medical Department head aboard the ship is the Cruise ship chief or Senior doctor. A cruise ship chief’s job is to oversee the work activities of the ship’s Physician, lead nurse, nurse practitioners, and nurses.

Ship doctor / Physician

The duty of a ship doctor or Physician is to report to the ship’s chief doctor and also to supervise the ship’s lead nurse, nurse practitioners, and registered nurses. Talking about responsibilities, a physician is responsible for the basic and emergency medical treatment.

Nurse practitioner

A nurse practitioner provides medical care to the crew members as well as passengers. Apart from this, nurse practitioners are also responsible for various administrative duties in the Medical Clinic aboard the cruise ship. A nurse practitioner reports to the ship’s Chief Doctor, ship’s Physician, as well as to the Fleet Chief Nursing Officer.

Lead / Chief nurse

Depending on your educational qualifications, experience, and skillset, you can become a lead / chief nurse in the cruise ship. A lead nurse is in charge of nursing staff aboard and reports to the chief doctor, Physician as well as to the Fleet Chief Nursing Officer in the ship.

Ship Nurse

A Ship Nurse or the Registered Nurse provides regular healthcare to the ship passengers and also to the crew members aboard the cruise ship. A Ship Nurse works under the ship’s lead nurse, Physician, and the chief doctor’s supervision.


The paramedic is also part of the medical staff on the cruise ship. They work alongside experienced nurses and doctors. The paramedic works during various emergencies and works as the cruise ship’s medical team.

Final Thoughts

Cruise ships carry essential medications onboard, but most all do not have pharmacists. The medicine is available for problems like cough, headaches, etc. To ensure passengers and crew members’ medical safety and crew members traveling inside the cruise ships they have licensed doctors and nurses.

The number of doctors and nurses inside the cruise is mainly based on the cruise ship’s size, the number of passengers, crew members, etc.

This isn’t to say you can’t find a job as Pharmacist Cruise ship out there somewhere in the world. The problem when you do is that roll will likely be taken and that person will most likely be there for awhile. So it may be best to search out other rolls that will keep you interested as much as this in the Pharmacy industry. There are many other specialized jobs that include Nuclear Pharmacist and Ambulatory just do your research.


Danielle Winner

Hello my name is Danielle Winner. Welcome to my site on Pharmacy School and tips and tricks to hopefully help you get in. It's not easy but hopefully you can learn to not make mistakes that students (myself included) make. Good luck on your journey. I graduated from Albany School of Pharmacy in May 2010 and have had a few different jobs across the east coast of the U.S.

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