Cruiser Captain?

Prospective_Pilot

New Member
Have any of you guys ever thought, or know anything about becoming an oceanliner captain like of a cruise ship???????
I think it'd be cool eating all that gourmet food, visiting relaxing exotic places with beautiful women, stayting in nice hotels
, and I suppose the pay would be pretty good also......etc......... I'm sure there would be downsides to it all like most jobs and I'm sure it's also often a stressful job, but it must be better than having to put up with all the crap u get from an airline.

If anyone knows where I can find out some info I'd really appreciate it......thanks!!!!!
 

John_Jones

New Member
Well...I dont have any information but to tell you the truth I think it'd be pretty stressful. For one, I'm guessing your home away from home is on the ship, and usually employees get pretty small cabins to accomodate the "customers" on the ship. Also, up for long hours, and I seriously doubt when you dock at where ever your planning on docking for customer entertainment, you actually leave the ship. I went on a cruise last summer with my familly as a big familly gathering and I remember the "Captains Night", where you dress up all in your clothes and get to take a picture with the captain. To tell you the truth, that would really suck to have to take a thousand or more photos with a bunch of old people and snobs (not all passengers are rich snobs, but I'm talking about the people who really "dress up" to take a 'picture' with the captain...If you've ever taken a cruise you probally know what I'm talking about). I mean I'm sure theres some cool things to the job, like getting to get on a massive boat and be the head man. But I dont think you can just "train" like you can in the airline industry, and just sort of get hired as a captain. I'd bet it'd take many years at other parts of the company...
 

Acadia

Well-Known Member
Nope you don’t train like you do in aviation. Well in some ways you do to get a good start. Option A is the Navy and earn an engineer or even better a navigator ticket or Option B do a similar route in a Maritime Academy and put time in the merchant marines. You do build time like in aviation, though its number of days, size/type of vessel, and capacity you served while underway (i.e. engineer, boatswain, navigator or to start the mate for any of the above). A low end or “Dog license” (which is small stuff under 500 Tons) requires 720 days of sea time before you are eligible to apply for a masters ticket. With that you might find a job as third mate or navigators mate and work up from there.

Either way you then put in 20-30 years of sea time and work your way up the bridge and even then probably never become the master of a large vessel. Sure it can be done, but we are talking about a very small number of positions available out there. Though you could likely be one of several other captains aboard that work under the master. No matter what it would be a long career path with low odds of getting to the top of the hill. It’s kind of like setting a goal of being a CEO of a large company. You might get there someday with very hard work and loads of luck. Anyway a master of a large vessel is usually a very experienced individual and from what I have seen its rare for that person to be younger than 50.

However there are many smaller jobs that you would work through during your career and you should have interest in some of those areas and not just an end goal of the big cheese.

Oh another thing is nationality. Many cruise ships are of foreign registry and hire crews of specific nationalities. So a given ship might have an Italian crew on the bridge, Portuguese engineers, and a service crew from the Philippines. Even ships owned by US companies (or British or Australian) will most likely register the ship out of country and crew it that way for economic reasons.
 

MikeD

Administrator
Staff member
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Oh another thing is nationality. Many cruise ships are of foreign registry and hire crews of specific nationalities. So a given ship might have an Italian crew on the bridge, Portuguese engineers, and a service crew from the Philippines. Even ships owned by US companies (or British or Australian) will most likely register the ship out of country and crew it that way for economic reasons.

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Aren't most of the worlds cruise ships, tankers, freighters etc registered in Liberia? Seems to be what I've seen of most vessels involved in accidents/incidents. Lax certification/inspection process to qualify maybe?

Wonder what the background of the Captain of, for example, the Queen Elizebeth 2 is?
 

Derg

New Arizona, Il Duce/Warlord
Staff member
From what I saw during my Alaskan cruise 99.999% of your time is spent on the ship, no fraternization with passengers or crew and your nights are spent on the boat until the series of cruises are over.

And probably about two people on the entire ship make semi-ok pay.
 

Derg

New Arizona, Il Duce/Warlord
Staff member
You know, the media always bitches about me making too much money (read: more than the dipsh*t newspaper jerk making the statement) but have you seen what a Mississippi riverboat captain makes?

Way more than an MD-88 captain!
 

Prospective_Pilot

New Member
THanks guys! Questions on my mind now answered.....feel better now. And I think I'll just stick to my goal of becoming a 747 Captain (or A380 if no 747's are around)....I think that goal is just a tad bit more realistic.............
 

PurduePilot

New Member
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Aren't most of the worlds cruise ships, tankers, freighters etc registered in Liberia? Seems to be what I've seen of most vessels involved in accidents/incidents. Lax certification/inspection process to qualify maybe?

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Actually, this is a common misconception. Cruise lines register their ships in foreign nations for tax purposes only.

Any passenger carrying vessel wishing to do business from a US port must adhere to USCG regulations.
 

PurduePilot

New Member
I posted this exact same question on airliners.net and I got this response from a guy named Woodreau. I checked out his information and it seems to jive. Here is what he said:

The licenses you need to get are the 3d Mate, 2d Mate, 1st Mate, Master.
The differences between the licenses are basically time, experience, and knowledge as far as I know. You get these by taking the Coast Guard exam.

And within these licenses there are categories, very similar to type ratings in the aircraft, but they're not tied to a specific ship or class of ship, but rather tonnage. 50 ton, 100 ton, 150ton, 200ton, unlimited., etc... these ratings determine what type of ship you can work on. To find employment with a shipping company to work on a cruise liner or any other large commercial ship, you'll need a minimum of an unlimited 3d Mates license, since there probably aren't any 200 ton cruise liners out there. You don't have to get a 50ton rating before you get an unlimited rating, you just go straight for the unlimited. But you do need the 3d mate, before you go for 2d mate, before you go for 1st mate and ultimately master.

To get the time to qualify for the 3d Mate's license you can go to one of the maritime academies (you'll graduate with an unlimited 3d Mate's and a degree), or you can start at the school of hard knocks working as an able-bodied seaman and going up from there.

Talking with some mariners out there, cruiseliner work is actually the low end of the pay scale, with the more lucrative jobs being on cargo ships (Ro-Ros, container ships, bulk break ships, tankers, LPG ships, etc). Plus you get better schedules working cargo ships.

There's two different tracks you can take either the deck track or the engineer track. Deck track - you're up topside, driving the ship, you worry about proper loading (stability is critical), dealing with cargo ops, etc. Engineer track - you work down in the engineroom, and you just keep the engine running, and keep the lights on and the fresh water running. Usually you don't switch between the two (unless you are willing to start all over again.)

As far as the military side goes, time and experience does not transfer at all. A military pilot can take a military competence test to get the appropriate FAA license. and boom all his time transfers, he becomes competitive with his civilian counterparts when looking for employment at any airline if he has the right kind of time, e.g. a helo pilot probably can't find work at United, American, etc.

For a Navy officer after 20+ year career at sea driving everything from frigates, cruisers, destroyers, and maybe command of an aircraft carrier or amphibious assault ship, none of that sea time is creditable and if that officer wants to look for employment in the civilian maritime industry, he has to take the 3d mate's exam and start working from there and time building from there.

I think the Coast Guard does things differently, their officers do get credit for their time at sea.

Just my speculation here, I think the reason why Navy officers don't get credit for their sea time in the civilian sector is because while the Navy does drive ships, it's not their primary job. No one else drives the ship, but the primary job of a naval officer is to fight the ship/tactics and weapons employment and while there is time devoted to driving ships and the ins and outs of the propulsion plant, there isn't any attention paid to cargo loading, etc.
 

Acadia

Well-Known Member
The USCG has a bunch of endorsements that may be listed on whatever ticket you hold. For example I have a wimpy little 100 Ton near coastal sail/auxiliary and for my endorsements it lists radar observer unlimited and towing (each is an add on).

I am pretty sure the watch keeping (w/o limits) is a tag you earn to stand watch while superiors are off duty and would be an add on to what ever mate or captains license you held. GMDSS (Global Maritime Distress & Safety System) is essentially a radio operation certificate for this day and age. Not sure what ARPA is.
 

A300Capt

Freight Dawg
Ironically, we just had one of our Capt's post a message on our union forum about his brother who's a cargo container ship Capt. Says he makes around 300K a year and works a 6wks on/6 wks off schedule. Says it's a dying profession since most ship's crews are outsourced to other "cheaper" countries and his 1st mate, who's been sailing with him for 12 years, will probably never make Capt.
 

EatSleepFly

Well-Known Member
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Says he makes around 300K a year and works a 6wks on/6 wks off schedule.

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Yeah, but the view from "the office" isn't nearly as good.
 
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