I was researching jobs on a cruiseship and decided against it. My godmother's daughter is working for Carnival cruises as a trainer for customer services. She states that the lower ranks on a cruise ship's kitchen is a lot of work for very little money, these positions are usually filled by foreigners from places with a low standard of living meaning low pay.
But heres what I know.
Its all contract work, anywhere from 2 to 10 months (through NCL, Royal Caribbean, and Carnival). You work for like 2-4 weeks straight then like 1 week off, depending on the conditions of your contract. Everything is provided, even airfare (I don't know if its standard for all cruise liners though) for shipping you there to port and back only, emergencies or early termination isn't covered so you pay for your airfare.
Since you won't be working with the guests cause your stuck in the kitchen, you'd be off limits to all guest area (the pools, theater, casino, restaurants, etc.) but you have your own recreation facilities of your own for crew members.
You should be working the standard 8h/day and have opertunities to visit the ports while docked.
The kitchens (from what I've scene) are usually quite large, the main dining halls is set menus so it'll be very banquet style then you got the buffets. Some boats have seperate restaurants and they should be just like any other kitchen.