The crew (or boat crew) on a cruise ship is made up of the captain, captain’s assistant, deckhands, engineers, mechanics, and other crew workers. The captain’s assistant assists the captain with fulfilling his duties aboard the ship. The cruise ship captain is considered the “master of the vessel.” He outranks all other workers on the ship. He also has authority over all guests aboard the ship. What he says goes. This means, the captain’s assistant has his work cut out for him as he must assist in maintaining order in a festive environment and enforcing policies and procedures for thousands of workers and guests aboard the ship.
According to maritime law, the cruise ship captain is responsible for all actions taken. He is responsible for all actions not taken. And, he has the final word in all matters. In the end, the captain’s primary responsibility is the safety of the ship and everyone onboard. He must carry out company policy, and he must make sure the ship is in compliance with national and international laws. The captain is also granted legal authority from the ship’s flag state to enforce all laws.
Like captains, in many cases, aspiring captain’s assistants begin the journey in their teens by enrolling in a maritime high school. The U.S. Maritime Administration establishes the curriculum for these schools. After graduating from a maritime high school, the next logical step is to enroll in a Bachelor of Science degree program at one of the seven merchant marine academies in the U.S. Entry, training, and experience requirements for most water transportation occupations are established and regulated by the U.S. Coast Guard.
In addition to a Bachelor of Science degree, captain’s assistants and all other mariners on cruise ships must obtain two credentials — a Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) and a Merchant Mariner Credential (MMC). If you prefer to work your way up – which is the only other path you can take, you must accumulate literally thousands of hours of experience as a deckhand, then work your way up from there. This could take years and it still doesn’t guarantee a job offer. Most cruise ships prefer to hire applicants with a Bachelor of Science degree or higher.
During your studies, you will work as an intern or apprentice to gain hands-on experience. In some cases, your apprenticeship or internship will produce a job offer and in other cases, you will walk away with an excellent reference. If you end up having to search for a position on your own, don’t worry. Your merchant marine academy will have a job placement office to assist you every step of the way. In most cases, you will get a job as a third mate officer first (not a deckhand) and work your way up from there.
For more information about captain’s assistant jobs, education, and more, visit the following websites: