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Career Advice

How to become a cruise ship captain

How to become a cruise ship captain? Well here’s how…

It`s quite possibly the most unusual job we have yet featured in our fabulous career directory.  However, unusual as it cruise shipmay be, cruise ship captains have never been in such high demand – with an expected 17% increase in the number of positions expected by 2016. When we think of a `ship captain` a number of things spring to mind…gleaming uniforms, glittering formal dinners, yo ho ho and a bottle of rum! But in truth it’s a hugely demanding job with incredible levels of responsibility. What`s more, the level of training and experience required is enough to make even the most nautically minded novice feel nauseous. Aren’t you glad we are here to steer you in the right direction!

What does a ship’s captain actually do?

Quite a lot actually! Here is a quick list of some of the most important duties which a ship’s captain will have to undertake:

  • Overall control of the ships operation, crew, safety, schedule and passengers

  • Overall responsibility for the safe and timely transportation of passengers and cargo

  • Ensuring that all legal regulations are adhered to

  • Making sure that all operations are carried out in a manner which adheres to company policies

  • Interviewing and selecting all members of crew

  • Allocating living quarters and arranging crew working rotas

  • Overall responsibility for the monitoring and maintenance of the ship including its machinery and equipment

  • Accurate and timely navigation of the vessel through the use of maps, radars and other electronic equipment

  • Communication with and signalling to other vessels within the vicinity

  • Monitoring speed engine pressure and water depth

  • Monitoring and administering the ships operational budgets including the purchasing and loading of fuel

  • Management of the crew in all their responsibilities and duties.

Skills and attributes

  • Outstanding levels of organization are essential in order to manage the enormous list of duties and responsibilitiesquestion-mark

  • Highly developed communication skills to ensure the smooth transfer of information to crew and passengers

  • Excellent management skills to aid the delegation of duties and promote a highly motivated and dedicated team

  • Ability to quickly assess a situation and make well reasoned decisions in a clear a decisive manner

  • A comprehensive understanding of mathematics

  • The ability to get to grips with new technologies and to become proficient in all equipment used on board

  • Willingness and preparedness to spend long periods of time away from home

  • An excellent eye for detail, particularly in assessing whether a vessel is safe to undertake a voyage

  • The ability to keep calm and collected in high pressure situation.. whilst it is unlikely that you will ever find yourself in an emergency situation you must be prepared that in such an event you are ultimately responsible for the safety of passengers and crew.

  • Ability and desire to work within a highly regimented environment with a very clearly defined hierarchy

Qualifications and training

You won`t be surprised to know that there is no fast track to becoming a cruise ship captain. It is a long road which requires a huge amount of dedication, hard work and study. The route will vary depending upon which company you choose to work for, but here is the basic structure that your education and training could follow:

  1. Strong GCSEs in a wide range of subjects. Maths and English are essential at this level but Science and IT may also be a requirement

  2. Good A-Level results (or equivalent). These will allow you to gain admittance to a maritime college. Competition for these places is extremely high and most colleges will require outstanding A level grades to include Maths, IT/technology and often a Science.

  3. Attendance at Maritime college – Here you will study a huge range of topics associated with ships and seafaring.

  4. Whilst at college you will undertake a degree in Maritime Studies (or some variation of this) which will prepare to begin your onboard training.

  5. It is at this point that the trajectory of your career will largely depend upon the company which you secure a position with. Generally at this point, you will join the crew of a ship in the position of Third Mate Officer and work your way up the ranks over a number of years.

  6. There is really no end to the training and qualifications which a cruise ship’s captain is required to undertake. You should be prepared to constantly seek to improve your skills and experience and implement a continuous development plan.

So there you have it – a basic guide to becoming a cruise ship captain! Best of luck if you plan to follow this career path, but if not why don`t you check out our career directory

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