First Time Poster- Cruise ship interest


#1

Hello, glad I found this site, great info!

Had some questions about becoming a licensed officer, someday on a crusie ship. A little about me: First time poster, always loved the water, found my TRUE love when out on the water on a cruise ship. Love the crisp salty ocean smell, and call of the ocean. Also the great lakes. Would be a career change for me. I am looking at attending a State Maritime Academy, possibly Great Lakes Maritime, but still considering all the others. I have read many posts about the difficulty of being hired as a US Officer on ships, especially cruise ships. I am confused about the flagging of the ship. Is the Maritime Academies training only good for a USCG license and US flagged ships or will other countries accept and convert the training to meet their licensing requirements? Will cruise lines such as Royal Carribean, Norwegian Cruise, Celebrity, Carnival, and Disney hire a US licensed officer? If they will hire US officers, do they hire fresh from the maritime academies or do they require experience , along with academy graduation? What type of sea time and time off is the norm, along with pay scales?

Thank you all in advance.

Life is like stepping onto a boat that is about to sail out to sea and sink.
Shunryu Suzuki


#2

First of all, welcome aboard!

I can try to answer a couple of your questions - depending on your situation may depend on which state academy that you decide to attend. There’s a lot of opinions around here about which you one you should go to, but there are various reasons to attend each. If you already have a degree, some of the schools have a Master’s degree program that allows you to get a license as well, if you’re interested.

The academy training is only good for a USCG license, unless you have some agreement with another country - I know when I was in school, we had students from the Bahamas that got a Bahamanian license, not a US license, because they are not US citizens. With a US license you can work on just about any ship with any flag - it’s accepted just about everywhere. It might require a small bit of paperwork to get the ship’s flag state’s license, but there shouldn’t be any other testing or anything.

I think there’s only 1 big US flagged cruise ship around now - one of the Pride ones owned by NCL in Hawaii. NCL was looking for US officers for their international flag fleet, but that was a while ago. Celebrity will hire you out of school as an ‘apprentice’ or something like that, where they pay you a little and you sort of learn the ropes of the cruise industry for 6 months or something.

Hope this helps - if you have any other questions, feel free to ask!


#3

First, the maritime schooling; this is an often discussed subject on here. Do a little bit of searching and I think you will find more information on here then anywhere else.

Second, licensing; New3m is correct, some countries have agreements with the USCG and the maritime academies to issue foreign licenses upon graduation. My roommate at Maine was issued a Canadian license, but I think he had to do an additional 6 months as a cadet. Once you have the USCG license you can get a Liberian license after filling out a form and sending a check, pretty easy, this is second hand information though.

Third, a job; well here is the rub. NCL is getting rid of their last American flagged cruise ship, so there will be no more deep draft American cruise ships after that, for the time being. Through the grapevine, I have heard that working on the cruise ships is VERY different from cruising on them. In today’s industry and with all the liabilty that comes with the job, I think you would be very hard pressed to find a ship that encouraged an officer to be dinning and chasing tail with the passengers. If there ever was a casualty and that information got out, it would be devestating to the company.

There are smaller American cruise ships that sail the coasts of the US, catering mostly to the elderly, incontitnent, and infirm. Why on earth would you want to deal with them?

Honestly, I think you are confusing working on a cruise ship with cruising on a cruise ship. Most of the stories I heard varied from tolerable to “hating this f’ing ship”. If you want to go to Maritime school, you need to get the white uniforms, beautiful ports, good food, and beautiful women out of your mind and accept filthy grease stained work clothes, dirty container ports in the middle of nowhere, mediocre/repitive food, and big boned maritime girls…


#4

[quote=Kingfysh;10548]
Honestly, I think you are confusing working on a cruise ship with cruising on a cruise ship. Most of the stories I heard varied from tolerable to “hating this f’ing ship”. If you want to go to Maritime school, you need to get the white uniforms, beautiful ports, good food, and beautiful women out of your mind and accept filthy grease stained work clothes, dirty container ports in the middle of nowhere, mediocre/repitive food, and big boned maritime girls…[/quote]

Kingfysh, sounds like you been to some of the same ports as me. :smiley:


#5

I have been to some first quality third world hell holes…and I would go back in a minute.


#6

Thanks for the info guys. I think you have me pegged wrong Kingfysh. I would be a career changer, older feller with baggage (ie kids & wife) not at all interested in as you wrote :

“I think you would be very hard pressed to find a ship that encouraged an officer to be dinning and chasing tail with the passengers. If there ever was a casualty and that information got out, it would be devestating to the company.”

Not interested in that at all. I am interested in cruise ships due to the areas they sail into, the technology, focus on safety, structured schedule, and the chance to interact with the passengers on a professional level. But I do appreciate your input, as you have much more knowledge of the maritime industry than I. Could you expand on why officers hated or were lukewarm to working on a cruise ship?

What other types of ships would be comparable to cruise ships, as it sounds the jobs are EXTREMELY scarce for a US officer? Would LPG or LNG ships or oil tankers be options to explore?

Thanks for the replies, good info 10talents,New3M, and Kingfysh. Looking forward to learing more.


#7

My instructor at GLMA once quoted “Where we have passengers, they do dumb things”

He went on to tell us about people setting off fire alarms, constantly being in restricted areas, etc.
Also
From what I HEAR (so take it with a grain of salt) the pay isnt as good as other maritime jobs, the berthings suck (small, possibly shared rooms for officers), and there is all that strange just waiting to be had and there is nothing you can do about it! (doesnt mean this applies to you but still)

cheers


#8

“Where we have passengers, they do dumb things”:eek:
This applies to Research Vessels, etc. as well. Consider yourself warned!:wink:


#9

Tokyo Buddha

There really isn’t much in the American fleet that is comparable to the new build cruise ships that were sailing in Hawaii. Matson has built some new ships, as has OSG, and a few others, but over all American Merchant ships are about a generation behind the foreign ships. I never believed this until I stopped sailing and started work as a surveyor, I consistently hear Chief Mates refer to a ship that is ten years old, as old. The most modern ship I spent any real time on was built in 1979. The American fleet is slowly modernizing, but we will always be a step behind for many reasons.

I wouldn’t get into this industry expecting to only work on shiny, new, well built ships. If you restricted the ships you are willing to work on to only those, you will never work. To get on a new build ship you generally have to have some seniority in the unions or with the company you are sailing with. Don’t totally disregard the old rust buckets, they are interesting, if a bit dirty to live on. I learned how to fix more stuff aboard that old ship then I would have if I had worked on a shiny new tanker or container ship. The philosophy of “Git er done” is a good one to learn aboard a ship. If something breaks and it needs to be fixed, sometimes you need to make imperfect fixes to it. Of course you would never admit to an auditor that the radar is held together with duct tape and baling wire, but you fixed it didn’t you?

Everything I heard about the cruise ships was second hand or third hand, I never sailed on one. Stuff I heard:
You were not allowed to mingle with the passengers unless you were in your whites and totally scrubbed up, a bit hard for an engineer to ever get completely clean while aboard the ship.
Security is apparently nuts aboard the ships. They have cameras that follow your activities on the Bridge and in the control room.
Bridge watches are stood with two deck officers and commonly the captain on the Brdige, so as an inexperienced 3/M you never really stand your own watch and learn how to do things by yourself.
All of the above are things I heard from friends, I never experienced them myself, however my sources are trustworthy.

If you want to do this you need to just accept that you want to work on the sea on whatever ship will take you. For the most part American ships are well maintained and safe, they may not be as pretty as foreign ships, but they are safe and decent to live aboard. I would look into working in the Gulf of Mexico, they have a lot of new build boats, the hitches are shorter, and the technology is pretty new out there.

Working in this industry is a big life and culture change, you are going to be working your ass off while aboard the ship with no days off and little connection to your family. Your wife and kids also have to be ready to have their father/husband gone for six months of the year. You will have to have a thick skin and not flinch at a p**** joke or two or three. I sailed for five years and decided that what I wanted from going to sea was increasingly not available to me, so I got married and came ashore. I do miss it at times and I am a better person for all my experiences…Although, my chances of getting into heaven might have been jeopardized.


#10

[QUOTE=Kingfysh;10590]Tokyo Buddha

There really isn’t much in the American fleet that is comparable to the new build cruise ships that were sailing in Hawaii. Matson has built some new ships, as has OSG, and a few others, but over all American Merchant ships are about a generation behind the foreign ships. I never believed this until I stopped sailing and started work as a surveyor, I consistently hear Chief Mates refer to a ship that is ten years old, as old. The most modern ship I spent any real time on was built in 1979. The American fleet is slowly modernizing, but we will always be a step behind for many reasons.

I wouldn’t get into this industry expecting to only work on shiny, new, well built ships. If you restricted the ships you are willing to work on to only those, you will never work. To get on a new build ship you generally have to have some seniority in the unions or with the company you are sailing with. Don’t totally disregard the old rust buckets, they are interesting, if a bit dirty to live on. I learned how to fix more stuff aboard that old ship then I would have if I had worked on a shiny new tanker or container ship. The philosophy of “Git er done” is a good one to learn aboard a ship. If something breaks and it needs to be fixed, sometimes you need to make imperfect fixes to it. Of course you would never admit to an auditor that the radar is held together with duct tape and baling wire, but you fixed it didn’t you?

Everything I heard about the cruise ships was second hand or third hand, I never sailed on one. Stuff I heard:
You were not allowed to mingle with the passengers unless you were in your whites and totally scrubbed up, a bit hard for an engineer to ever get completely clean while aboard the ship.
Security is apparently nuts aboard the ships. They have cameras that follow your activities on the Bridge and in the control room.
Bridge watches are stood with two deck officers and commonly the captain on the Brdige, so as an inexperienced 3/M you never really stand your own watch and learn how to do things by yourself.
All of the above are things I heard from friends, I never experienced them myself, however my sources are trustworthy.

If you want to do this you need to just accept that you want to work on the sea on whatever ship will take you. For the most part American ships are well maintained and safe, they may not be as pretty as foreign ships, but they are safe and decent to live aboard. I would look into working in the Gulf of Mexico, they have a lot of new build boats, the hitches are shorter, and the technology is pretty new out there.

Working in this industry is a big life and culture change, you are going to be working your ass off while aboard the ship with no days off and little connection to your family. Your wife and kids also have to be ready to have their father/husband gone for six months of the year. You will have to have a thick skin and not flinch at a p**** joke or two or three. I sailed for five years and decided that what I wanted from going to sea was increasingly not available to me, so I got married and came ashore. I do miss it at times and I am a better person for all my experiences…Although, my chances of getting into heaven might have been jeopardized.[/QUOTE]

Thank you for the post Kingfysh. You sure are able to put things into perspective…Did you maybe run into Hemingway when you were on the sea…lol Super post !

Thank you again for sharing your insights and giving me (us) a real look at what to expect and think about, before we give it a shot. You added things I would have never thought of. (Esp the wife and kids part…something very important)

Wise men learn by other men’s mistakes, fools by their own.
–H. G. Bohn