The International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (or STCW), 1978 sets qualification standards for masters, officers and watch personnel on seagoing merchant ships. STCW was adopted in 1978 by conference at the International Maritime Organization (IMO) in London, and entered into force in 1984. The Convention was significantly amended in 1995.
To work on a cruise ship, even as an entertainer, you are required to complete a one week training course, and on completion of a simple exam you will receive a certificate valid for five years.
My training was arranged by the ship's agent through the training organisation Colossal in Blackpool, UK. See http://colossaltraining.co.uk
The cost is around £600. Everyone's circumstances are different, but for me the ship arranged the training for me, they paid for the hotel in Blackpool, but I had a percentage of the course cost deducted from my first pay cheque. I also had to pay my transport to and from Blackpool.
Here is an outline of the training:
1. STCW Personal Survival Techniques (PST)
This course is intended to equip all persons intending to go to sea with basic sea survival skills and knowledge of sea survival principles. Includes a few hours at an indoor swimming pool.
2. STCW Fire Prevention & Fire Fighting (FPFF)
Types and classes of fires, prevention, hazard awareness, methods of fire extinguishment, structure of incident response team, appropriate equipment, personal safety, team support and live exercises. This includes a full day of fire fighting at a local Fire Brigade's training facility.
3. STCW Personal Safety & Social Responsibility (PSSR)
Types of shipboard emergencies, alarms and signals, initial actions, personal/protective safety equipment, effects of pollution, pollution prevention, safe working practices, enclosed spaces, accident prevention, harassment, individual rights, drug and alcohol awareness and dealing with abuse.
4. STCW Elementary First Aid (EFA)
Basic, immediate response to the most common shipboard medical emergencies.
5. Proficiency in Security Awareness (PSA)
The STCW Convention and Code as amended by the Manila Amendments (2010) contains new requirements regarding security training. This training is required by all personnel employed or engaged on board ships for which the International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) Code applies.
I was also required to get my ENG1 medical certificate. This is a separate item that is also required for working on cruise ships. It costs £80 and is available from specialist medical centers throughout UK. Here is a list of approved medical centers: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/mca-approved-doctors-uk-based
And finally, non-American residents that need to enter The United States will need a C1/D visa. However, I don't need this because I can enter the US with my Canadian passport.