Close your eyes and feel the sweet ocean breeze gently passing over you. Breathe in the salty air. Feel the tropical sun warm your body.

Is this your vision of a picture-perfect vacation—or is it your workplace? For hundreds of nurses who set sail on cruise ships each year, exotic tropical environments and exotic locations are not only paradise, it’s where they practice.

Cruises are more than just romantic getaways or luxurious escapes from stress—they’re also unique career opportunities. With more than 5 million people taking cruises in 1999—more than a 1,000% increase since 1970, according to the Cruise Line International Association—cruise ships are in great need of competent, skilled and culturally diverse nurses. With today’s mega-sized ocean liners that can host more than 3,000 passengers, plus crew members, there are bound to be medical necessities—not to mention emergencies—that demand the presence of experienced health care staff.

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