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About Volunteering

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Volunteering with Mercy Ships will not only change the lives of those you serve, it will change you. There are many ways to support Mercy Ships in our global medical mission to help the poor. It takes all kinds, with all skills. There is a need for both medical and non-medical volunteers. There are volunteer positions in a variety of areas including: housekeeping, galley, deck crew, doctors and nurses and everything in between.

Our volunteer opportunities are both long and short-term on board the Africa Mercy. Short-term crew can volunteer from two weeks to two years depending on the position and typically fill service roles or very specialised medical or technical positions. Long-term crew make an initial commitment of two years and typically fill positions that require more continuity and training.

All Mercy Ships volunteers are required to provide/raise their own funds to cover crew fees, travel insurance, and transportation to and from the field service location. Mercy Ships will undertake the arrangements for registration in the nation of service on behalf of all medical personnel volunteering with us, as well as visa arrangements for all volunteers.

The Ship

Life on board the Africa Mercy is interesting, challenging, fun, and multicultural. With a crew of more than 400 from 35 nations, you’ll build close relationships in close quarters while you work hard.

Volunteering with Mercy Ships allows you to live and work with people from all around the world. Living on board, you’ll enjoy modern amenities, as well as see the wonderful beauty and incredible warmth of the people of Africa.


Each cabin is designed to maximise space, and most have a private bathroom, small closet and desk area for each person, and wifi Internet access. If you’re a single crew member, you’ll bunk in a multi-berth cabin. A limited number of double-berth cabins are reserved for married couples.


Our Food Services Department serves delicious and nutritious meals three times a day in the on board dining room. The menu is set by the executive chef and when the occasional craving for homemade treats strikes, you can cook up whatever strikes your fancy in the crew galley. Limited groceries can be purchased in a local market or in the Ship Shop, our on board convenience store. The Africa Mercy also includes a snack bar and a Starbucks Cafe. The ship is unable to meet specific dietary requirements, including gluten-free, low cholesterol, low-carbohydrate or other special needs but does label all meals served in the dining room.

Other Facilities

The Africa Mercy is like a small city and includes amenities to make on board life as convenient as possible. There’s a laundry room, hair salon, bank, post office, weight room, Internet café and wifi, a library with books, movies and board games, a swimming pool, a movie room, and even a clinic for crew medical and dental care.


You can’t help but form deep and lasting friendships with the mosaic of talented people on board, and a spirit of playfulness permeates the ship. And the moment you step foot on land, you’re in a whole new world. Relax on a beach, try local cuisine, explore a market, and even participate in a ministry at nearby orphanages, schools, or prisons.

The Ship Schedule

2018/2019 Schedule

Please note: This schedule is subject to change.


May: end of 2018/2019 Field Service, depart from Conakry, Guinea
June: arrive in Las Palmas, Canary Islands, for maintenance period
August: depart from Las Palmas, Canary Islands, following maintenance period
September: arrive in Dakar, Senegal, for 2019/20 Field Service


March: end of 2018/2019 Field Service, depart from Dakar, Senegal
April: arrive in Granadilla, Canary Islands, for maintenance period


TBA: depart from Granadilla, Canary Islands, following maintenance period
arrive in Dakar, Senegal for 2020/21 Field Service
TBA: end of 2020/21 Field Service, depart from Dakar, Senegal
TBA: arrive in Canary Islands, for maintenance period
TBA: depart from Canary Islands, following maintenance period
TBA: arrive in Monrovia, Liberia for 2021/22 Field Service

Finances For Volunteers

Volunteers with Mercy Ships are responsible for paying all costs associated with their service, including crew fees, travel expenses, passports, immunisations, insurance and personal expenses. Because of this commitment, Mercy Ships is able to use direct contributions from its supporters to bring hope and healing to the poorest of the poor.

Crew members typically pay for their service by raising support from family, friends and churches or by saving money for their time on board. A financial health service for crew members – Financial Accountability, Coaching and Encouragement (FinACE) – helps volunteers develop a budget, determine the best ways to fund their service, and provide support raising tools.

Monthly Crew Fee

The two largest expenses you can expect to incur while serving with Mercy Ships are your travel to and from the ship and your monthly crew fees (room and board). The current crew fee schedule is listed below and is subject to change.

Service Commitment Crew Fee Rate
Less than 3 Months $700 US
3 – 12 Months $650 US
13 – 24 Months $350 US
2+ Years $250 US

Mercy Ships gives a 50% discount for those individuals serving from developing nations (as ranked by the United Nations). Returning alumni are also afforded a discount.

Average Monthly Budget

Depending on your personal needs and habits, short term crew should budget $150-$200 per month for personal expenses. Crew serving 24+ months might need to consider other factors, such as travel savings, tithes, clothing, etc.

Health insurance is required of all crew serving more than 24 months and may cost $30-$300 per month, depending on the coverage you elect and other factors. Emergency evacuation and repatriation insurance is included in the crew fee cost for crew serving less than 24 months. Travel insurance is also recommended for all volunteers.

These expenses added together form the below recommended monthly budget.

Exclusive of travel (amounts in US dollars)

Single Couple Family
Serving less than 24 months $900 US $1700 US N/A
Serving more than 24 months $1200 US $1900 US $2200 US + Kids

For any other information you might need regarding the cost of serving with Mercy Ships, please email [email protected]

Learn More About Serving

Mercy Ships provides overview courses to help prospective volunteers learn more the organisation and its work. These courses are only required of long-term volunteers serving for two years or longer.

Foundations of Mercy Ships

Foundations of Mercy Ships (FMS) is a five-day course held at the International Support Center (ISC) in Texas, which is offered 3-4 times per year. The course helps individuals interested in Mercy Ships understand its mission and the details about living and working onboard. It is available to anyone wanting more information, but only required for volunteers serving longer term (in addition to our On Boarding program). In addition, we offer an Introduction to Mercy Ships program in the Netherlands twice a year.

For questions and registration information, please contact our Human Resources department at [email protected]

On Boarding Training Program

On Boarding is a five-week training program followed by a three-week practicum to prepare new crew and staff for their time of service with Mercy Ships and includes topics such as Faith Foundations, Personal & Interpersonal Development, some departmental training, as well as Basic Safety Training and Crowd Management courses.

The program is currently offered three times a year (typically January/February, June/July, and September/October) at the Mercy Ships International Support Center (ISC) in Lindale, Texas.

You must be accepted for a position on board the ship before attending this program. For more information, please contact our Human Resources department at [email protected]