Cruise Ship Job Descriptions
Cruise ship jobs are arranged according to the different
departments within a cruise ship. Every cruise line does not arrange
its jobs in the manner described below. However, cruise line jobs
do more or less fit into the general categories listed below.

Deck Department
The deck department has responsibility for the overall command
and navigation of a cruise ship. The highest ranking officer on a
cruise ship is the staff captain. He or she is in command of the
cruise ship and everyone working on board. It is the staff captain
who is ultimately responsible for the safe and economical operation
of the cruise ship. Unlike the captain of a smaller ship who may be
found in the pilothouse, the staff captain on a cruise ship delegates
tasks to other officers.

The captain is immediately beneath the captain on the cruise ship’s
chain of command. Both officers generally do not stand bridge
watches. The captain is almost like a corporate manager or director,
dealing with the “big picture” and is expected to avoid excessive
involvement in details. At the same time, captains and staff captains
need to have a finger on the pulse of the entire ship’s operation. If
there’s a disagreement between the environmental officer and an
engineering officer about the disposal of waste oil, the captain
should be concerned. If a crewmember’s aggressive behavior with
female passengers is a topic of conversation below decks, the
captain should have the matter investigated. If a pollution incident
results in criminal prosecution for an environmental violation…or if
the crew member mentioned above is charged with sexual assault,
it will ultimately reflect on the captain. It is the captain who ultimately
answers for a cruise ship’s Coast Guard safety violations,
environmental violations, sailing delays and standards for social
conduct. Navigation watches are manned by subordinate deck
officers. These include the chief officer, or first officer, second officer
and third officer. Cruise lines may designate their officers and crew
by different titles, although the duties and responsibilities resemble
the traditional hierarchy of the deck department. The deck
department also employs security officers able-bodied seamen, or
able seamen (depending on how they are designated) and

Engine Department
The engineering department is responsible for safe and
economical operation of a cruise ship’s main propulsion plant and
auxiliaries. This includes diesel-electric systems that on newer
cruise ships can involve azimuthing pods. It also includes the cruise
ship’s electric generating and distribution system, refrigeration
plant, desalination units, heating ventilation and air conditioning
system, lighting, elevators and other systems. The person
responsible for the overall operation of the engineering department
is the chief engineer. The chief engineer does not generally stand
watches. Like the captain, the chief engineer must have managerial
and executive skills and be familiar with purchasing, planning and
other administrative functions. Reporting to the Chief Engineer,
directly and indirectly are the assistant engineering officers and
other technical and mechanical staff. Depending on the size of the
vessel, these can include first assistant engineer, second assistant
engineer, third assistant engineer, refrigeration technicians,
electrical technician or officers, electronics technicians, oilers,
wipers and general utility workers. To ensure environmental
compliance, cruise ships employ environmental officers and their
support staff. This position is responsible for overseeing
compliance of operations involving engineering department waste
oil disposal, photographic chemicals disposal, ship’s sanitation
system disposal and galley department waste streams.

Catering Department
The catering, or culinary department is responsible for producing
thousands of meals on a daily basis for the passengers and crew
of the cruise ship. This includes meals that have been designed to
be appealing and high quality on the level of hotel restaurants. As a
matter of fact, many cruise lines seek prior experience in hotel
restaurants and other restaurants to fill senior chef positions. Titles
may vary from cruise line to cruise line, some lines using titles such
as executive chef, sous chef, senior chef, and chef. The culinary
department also employs bakers, food and beverage managers,
maitre’d’s, waiters, waitresses, stewards, stewardesses,
dishwashers, and storekeepers.

Bar Department
The bar, or beverage department employs food and beverage
managers, bar managers, bartenders, wine stewards, and
assistant bartenders. A cruise ship can have a large number of bars
throughout the different locations. Bar department employees may
depend upon tips to comprise their total wages.

Casino Department
Large cruise ships derive a large portion of their revenues by
operating casinos on board. These casinos are generally large
operations that seek former employees of shore based casino
operations in places like Las Vegas and Atlantic City. The casino
department employees cashiers, dealers, slot technicians,
surveillance personnel

Accounting Department
Cruise ships employ accountants, bookkeepers, and pursers to
oversee the financial operations of the vessel. As with any large
hotel, passengers can have questions about charges on their bills.
In addition, the time sheets and wages ship’s personnel must be

Service and Specialty
This department provides amenities for passengers that include
massages, spa treatments, hair styling, facials and other luxuries.
This also covers cruise ship gift shops. People who work in this
department include hair stylists, beauticians, nail specialists, gift
shop managers, cashiers, massage therapists and other spa

Entertainment Department
The entertainment department is responsible for coordinating and
hosting activities for passengers. The entertainment department
hires singers, band leaders, musicians, magicians, ventriloquists,
comedians, jugglers, dancers and other people with backgrounds
in the performing arts and entertainment industry. It also includes
DJ’s and sound and light technicians. This department also hires
cruise directors and youth activity coordinators. Cruise ships also
hire aerobics and fitness instructors to work in the ship’s gym.

Medical Department
Going to sea with thousands of passengers and crew on ships
exceeding 100,000 tons requires medical facilities on board to
address the injuries or illnesses that can arise at sea. Cruise lines
hire physicians, nurses and assistants to deal with the medical
needs of such a large group of people for an extended cruise.

Hotel Department
Since a cruise ship is essentially a floating and traveling hotel,
cruise ships employ housekeeping staffs, laundry staff, linen
keepers, cleaners, janitors, bell captains, and bell boys.

Security Department
A large cruise ship employs security officers and surveillance
personnel to monitor the safety and security of the vessel.

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United States Coast Guard - Marine Safety Office  
Regional Exam Centers

Eastern Alaska
800 E. Dimond Blvd., Suite 3-227
Anchorage, Alaska 99515
Phone: (907) 271-6736

Western Alaska
2760 Sherwood Lane, Suite 2A
Juneau, Alaska 99801-8545
Phone: (907) 463-2458

Southern California - Arizona, Nevada, Utah
California Center
501 W.Ocean Blvd., Suite 6200
Long Beach, CA 90802
Phone: (562) 495-1480

Northern California
California Center
Oakland Federal Bldg., North Tower
1301 Clay Street, Room 180N
Oakland, CA 94612-5200
Phone: (510) 637-1124

433 Ala Moana Blvd.
Honolulu, Hawaii 96813-4909
Phone: (808) 522-8264

Chesapeke Area - Maryland, Delaware, Virginia Area
Maryland Center
U.S. Customs House
40 South Gay Street
Baltimore, MD 21202-4022
Phone: (410) 962-5132

New England Area - Massachusetts, Rhode Island
New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine Area
Massachusetts Center
455 Commercial Street
Boston, MA 02109-1045
Phone: (617) 223-3040

Missouri, Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin Area
Missouri Center
1222 Spruce Street, Suite 8.104E
St. Louis, MO 63103-2835
Phone: (314) 539-3091
United States Coast Guard - Marine Safety Office
Regional Exam Centers

Tri-State Area - New Jersey, New York City, Long Island,
Connecticut, Pennsylvania Area
New York Center
Battery Park Building
1 South Street
New York, NY 10004-1466
Phone: (212) 668-7492

West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Michigan Area
Ohio Center
420 Madison Ave., Suite 700
Toledo, OH 43604
Phone: (419) 418-6010

Oregon, Idaho, Nevada Area
6767 N. Basin Avenue
Portland, Oregon 97217-3992
Phone: (503) 240-9346

Mid-Atlantic Area
Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina Area
South Carolina Center
196 Tradd Street
Charleston, South Carolina 29401-1899
Phone: (843) 720-3250

Inland of Mid-Atlantic - Kentucky, Alabama, Tennessee
Tennessee Center
200 Jefferson Ave., Suite 1302
Memphis, Tennessee 38103
Phone: (901) 544-3297

South, Southwest Area - New Mexico, Oklahoma,
Arkansas Area
Texas Center
8876 Gulf Freeway, Suite 200
Houston, TX 77017-6595
Phone: (713) 948-3350

Idaho, Washington Area
Washington Center
915 Second Ave., Room 194
Seattle, WA 98174-1067
Phone: (206) 220-7327
cruise ship job descriptions
cruise ship bartenders - waiters - waitresses - cruise ship deckhands - techs - mechanics - kitchen
staff - engineers - officers - cruise ship crew - housekeeping jobs - haircutting - cruise ship jobs
These are positions that
arise aboard cruise ships...

Disc Jockey, DJ
Band Leader
Sound & Light Technician
Cruise Director
Youth Activities Coordinator
Children Activities
Despite graceful lines, legendary careers and phenomenal top speeds,
many of the icons of the age of liners such as the
SS United States
would be hopelessly unmarketable to today's cruise passengers who
have gotten a taste of things like freestyle cruising, giant malls, mirrored
atriums, elaborate pool and play complexes, rock climbing walls and
more. The fact that a liner like the United States could top out at close to
44 knots, about double the top speeds of most cruise ships today, would
mean little to most of today's passengers. Things like kiddie swimming
areas and roller blading tracks hold more sway with today's passengers
than a hallowed heritage of having held the Blue Ribband the 1950s and
60s for the fastest crossing of the Atlantic Ocean by a passenger ship.