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About Volunteering

About Volunteering > How To Apply > Volunteer Opportunities > Australian Crew Stories > FAQs

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 and Global Mercy hospital ships. 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

2020/2021/2022 Schedule

Please note: This schedule is subject to change.


March: Africa Mercy departs Dakar, Senegal following 2019/2020 Field Service
April: Africa Mercy arrives in Canary Islands for maintenance period


TBA: Global Mercy departs Tianjin, China following build phase
TBA: Global Mercy arrives in Antwerp, Belgium for equipping phase


TBA: Africa Mercy departs Canary Islands following maintenance period
Africa Mercy arrives in Africa for Field Service
TBA: Global Mercy departs Antwerp, Belgium following equipping phase
TBA: Global Mercy arrives in Africa for 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.

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 Fee (room and board). Crew Fees help cover operational expenses on board so we can maximise the impact of donations by putting donated funds directly into programmatic expenses, like the cost of surgery for a patient who needs it.

Crew Fees are paid monthly by every adult crew member. The current Crew Fee chart is listed below.

Monthly Crew Fee Chart

Level Commitment Tier I Tier II
Level 1 & 2 2 weeks to 12 months $400 USD $200 USD
Level 3 & 4 12+ months $200 USD $200 USD

Discounts are given to crew who:

  • Make longer commitments
  • Have completed the On Boarding training program previously
  • Those from Tier II countries (countries with an average income of lower than 25K annually)

Tier I Countries

Any nation not on this list is considered Tier II.

Europe Asia Americas / Africa / South Pacific
Belgium Luxembourg Bahrain Australia
Cyprus Malta Brunei Canada
Denmark Netherlands Hong Kong New Zealand
Estonia Norway Israel Seychelles
Finland San Marino Japan United States
France Slovakia Kuwait
Germany Slovenia Oman
Iceland Spain Qatar
Ireland Sweden Singapore
Italy Switzerland South Korea
Lithuania United Kingdom Taiwan
United Arab Emirates
Who pays crew fees?

Every adult crewmember is required to pay crew fees. Minors (ages 0-18) on board with their families are not charged crew fees.

How often do crew fees change?

We are committed to keeping crew fees as low as possible, but crew can expect fees to increase 2-5% each year.

Budgets & Fundraising

Are you trying to wrap your head around budgeting, crew fees, and fundraising? We have a special team dedicated to helping you sort through these details.

The goal of our Financial Support Team is to ensure each volunteer is financially prepared for their service on board. If you have any questions as you think through volunteering, or if you’ve already applied, the Financial Support Team is here to help. Click here to get in touch by email.

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 three-week training program followed by a two-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.

The program is currently offered 3-4 times a year (typically January/February, March/April, June/July, and September/October) at the Mercy Ships International Support Centre (ISC) in Lindale, Texas and once per year at a location on the African continent (location varies).

Completion of the On Boarding training program is required for all crew joining the community of faith on board, but is open to all volunteers. You must be accepted for a position on board the ship before attending this program. There is no cost associated with this course, but each participant is responsible for their own travel expenses.

For questions and registration information, please click here to contact our Human Resources Department.