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How To Become a Cruise Ship Captain

What does it take to become a cruise ship captain?

Many people enjoy exploring open water and desire the freedom to live their life on the sea. For these reasons, individuals are drawn to being a cruise ship captain. In order to have this job, it requires a lot of work and training. Cruise ship captains seem to have a glamorous job and this is another reason why people aspire to have this vocation. However, the reality of being a cruise ship captain is far less glamorous and involves a lot more work.

Roles and Responsibilities Of a Cruise Ship Captain

Cruise ship captains have a lot of responsibility and they are known as the "master" of their ship. This job is far from easy, but can be extremely rewarding. Cruise ship captains are in charge of overseeing their crew of thousands of people to be sure that every gets done and is compliant with both international and local laws. Other responsibilities include maintaining and utilizing complex navigational systems and engines, watching the embarkment and disembarkment of passengers to ensure that every person is accounted for and knowing that safety equipment and measures are working. Additionally, cruise ship captains must enforce safety procedures, navigate the ship and communicate with ports and other nearby vessels. Another skill that is important for cruise ship captains is the ability to socialize. It is important for cruise ship captains to socialize with passengers, such as making small conversations and even hosting dinners. As the cruise ship captain is in charge of the ship, many people will report to them, such as the hotel manager, cruise director and the head engineer. The cruise ship captain is the point person and responsible for the safety of the ship and its passengers. It is evident that the role of a cruise ship captain is a large amount of responsibility and hard work.

What Education Do Cruise Ship Captains Need?

The first step of becoming a cruise ship captain is obtaining your high school diploma. After that, it is required that candidates possess either a bachelor's or master's degree of marine science or marine engineering. It is preferred that the bachelor's or master's degree is obtained through a maritime college or academy. Additionally, it is critical that individuals have an in-depth and holistic understanding of logistics, navigation, maritime and safety laws and management. Furthermore, it is critical that potential cruise ship captains have extensive training. Cruise ship captains must receive a captain's license from a federal maritime authority. However, receiving this license can take up to ten years. It takes more time to become a cruise ship captain than a brain surgeon. For most cruise ship captains, they earn their bars 18 to 22 years after beginning the process.

Exams and Certifications For Cruise Ship Captains

Maritime academies train potential cruise ship captains, which is the fastest way to receive training. However, some academies require service in the armed forces. After the four-year program, potential cruise ship captains receive their bachelor of science degree and a Coast Guard license as Third Mate. In order to become certified, potential cruise ship captains need a Transportation Work Identification Credential that is provided by the Transportation Security Administration that helps to locate cruise ship captains. Additionally, cruise ship captains need their Merchant Mariner Credential that is attained through the Department of Homeland Security. Both certifications entail physical examinations, drug tests, written exams and a vision test. Additionally, it is required for potential cruise ship captains to complete their captain licensure exams. After at least 10 years of work experience, individuals are able to take this exam.

Skills All Cruise Ship Captains Must Have

It is important that a cruise ship captain has a wide variety of skills, as they are not only navigating the boat, but are responsible for overseeing employees to guarantee a safe arrival. Important skills include leadership abilities, customer service and communication skills. Additionally, it is important that they have knowledge of administrative abilities so they can run the ship efficiently. Other necessary skills include analytical and problem-solving abilities, staying calm in stressful situations and the ability to work successfully under pressure.

Questions People Have About Cruise Ship Captains

- Can Captains Marry People at Sea?

Yes! They can, if they have the required legal rights. In reality, weddings at sea are pretty uncommon. However, cruise ship captains can conduct the ceremony if they are ordained. In order for a cruise ship captain to preform the marriage, they must be a judge, a justice of the peace, a minister, or a legally recognized officiant such as a Notary Public.

- How Long Are Cruise Ship Captains At Sea?

It depends on each individual cruise. It is critical that cruise ship captains can be on a ship for extended periods of time, as it is not uncommon for a cruise ship captain to be on the sea for weeks, or even months.

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