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About Volunteering

About Volunteering > How To Volunteer > Current Field Service > Current Opportunities > FAQs > Accepted Crew

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 Application Process

We are so grateful for our volunteers and are eager to help you through the application process and answer any questions you may have.

Find An Opportunity

Mercy Ships needs volunteer surgeons, nurses, administrative assistants, accountants, deck hands, and more. Find your place on board our hospital ship here.

Financial Obligation

All applicants are required to provide or raise their own funds to cover crew fees, insurance, transportation to and from the ship, and personal expenses. After acceptance, you will be contacted by our FinACE (Financial Accountability, Coaching & Encouragement) department, which will assist you in developing your budget and support raising. All volunteers must have a minimum of 75% of the necessary funds pledged at least 30 days before their start date.

Health and Age Requirements

Physical Evaluation and Immunisations are required for all applicants. Due to maritime medical regulations and other circumstances, those with certain disabilities and/or health histories may not be eligible to serve with Mercy Ships. All applicants must be at least 18 years old at time of service.

Positions, Time Availabilities & Expertise

A variety of positions are available, including many that require no previous expertise. Medical professionals are required to be licensed and have a minimum of two years’ post-graduate experience. Mariner applicants should be able to provide copies of current mariner licenses and certificates.

For all positions, Mercy Ships has set a minimum and maximum commitment, ranging from two weeks to five years.

Required Training

Offered three times a year, On Boarding is a 5-week training program followed by a 3-week practicum to prepare new crew and staff for their time of service with Mercy Ships. Completion is required for all crew serving 10 or more months on board, but is open to all volunteers.

The above course is only required of long-term volunteers serving 2 years or longer.

Apply Online

Applying to be a volunteer with Mercy Ships is easy and secure. Get started now.

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]

The Ship

Life onboard 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 onboard, 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 maximize space, and most have a private bathroom, small closet and desk area for each person, and 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. Most cabins have bathrooms, a small closet for each person, and internet access.


Our Food Services Department serves delicious and nutritious meals three times a day in the onboard dining room. The menu is set by the executive chef,and when the occasional craving for homemade treats strikes, 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 onboard 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.

Other Facilities

The Africa Mercy is like a small city, and includes amenities to make onboard life as convenient as possible. There’s a laundry room, hair salon, bank, post office, weight room, Internet café and Wi-Fi, a lending library with 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 2017/2018 Field Service, depart from Douala, Cameroon
June: arrive in Las Palmas, Canary Islands, for maintenance period
August: depart from Las Palmas, Canary Islands, following maintenance period
September: arrive in Conakry, Guinea for 2018/19 Field Service


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


May: end of 2018/2019 Field Service, depart from Dakar, Senegal
June: arrive in Las Palmas, Canary Islands, for maintenance period
August: depart from Las Palmas, Canary Islands, following maintenance period
September: arrive in country next for 2020/21 Field Service

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-Europe program in Holland twice a year for our European applicants.

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]