Maritime academy’s, and commercial crew and cruise lines

I am currently looking at maritime colleges and have narrowed my choices down to California Maritime and Texas A&M Galveston. I was wondering how commercial crew programs work at either of these schools and if it would be possible for me to get a commercial crew with a cruise line? I would really like to become a deck officer on a cruise line. I know that currently the job market isn’t very favorable, but hopefully in three years it might be. Any advice will be greatly appreciated!

Wasn’t done at TMA in my time there. Cruise ships were not a billet offered by the school. You’d have to seek it out your own.

If you seek it out on your own literally any commercial cruise billet is possible. Depends on how strong your personal influence is. (Or your dad’s personal influence)

Many from my school (BCIT), do their cadet time with Princess. I did not form a favourable impression of the brand or the industry based on what I heard. Can you tell why you want to work for a cruise line? If you cannot be dissuaded, look for a school located near a cruise ship terminal; they are likely to have a relationship with the cadet coordinator.

I have always liked cruise ships and would rather be in port more often than at sea. But it seams that schools in the US don’t really care about cruise lines and generally avoid them. Going to school in Canada could be a option I have looked into it yet.

Don’t get hung up on what will be a single semester of a four year experience. There are more important things to consider than the second year summer term when choosing a university. With that said, you’ll be at the mercy of what billets are available. In order to get first pick at the ships available the best thing you can do is maintain good grades and avoid getting demerits. I personally recommend looking for a tanker, so you can get a Tankerman-PIC.

Make the most of you’re time at university; don’t just do the bare minimum. For example TOAR, Tankerman, and fast rescue boat courses would all cost at least a grand each if taken outside the university. If you’re strategic you could fit those into the schedule at no additional cost.

You’ve got that a little bass ackwards. The cruise lines don’t care about Americans working for them Afloat unless they are forced to. Including cadet berths. That hasn’t happened since the 70’s unless you count the Pride Of America.

All of the Maritime schools In the US will give you the license to operate any vessel, what you do with it is up to you.


Welcome Ben. The only American officers I’ve seen on foreign cruise ships have been female. There are several YouTube videos of them. Note: that this might just be a case of them being the ones getting publicity.

Someone should probably tell him about the pay difference when it comes to cruise ships before he gets too excited.

My first 3/M spot was on a cruise ship with AMO… that paid crap and then went bankrupt in two months… :confused:


Personally, I’d rather work anywhere than a cruise ship. When going to school, be open to other experiences, and certainly make sure that you at least check out the other schools. From what it sounds like your experience right now is zero, or close to it, so you don’t even really know what you want to do.


Because there are basically no large cruise ships that pay American level wages. A 3rd mate on a cruise ship works significantly harder for significantly less money. It’s not a career for Americans unless you get on the only Jones Act vessel.


I’m just curious, how did you come about this preference? Have you sailed as a passenger? Talked to some of the officers?

There are small US cruise outfits aside from the Jones Act vessel most of us are familiar with. But the pay is pretty low, from what I gather. I’m sure you’ll be paying off school loans, and you’ll want to take that into consideration.


I’ve been on numerous cruise ships and talked with their officers from what I found on the internet pay is around $4500 I’m not sure if that is bad? That’s why I was planning on trying to get my commercial cruise on one to see if I would rather do commercial.

Yah I have never been on a container ship but I know there in port a lot less. I’m thinking I can do my commercial cruise with one to see if I would enjoy it or go cargo.

I don’t have any contacts yet in the industry. Would you recommend tma over cal maritime?

Very bad… that’s about 10 days pay for a junior mate with the company I’m with in the gulf.


Your US license is no good on foreign flag cruise ships. You would have to get a Panamanian or Bahamian license - which you can do by presenting your US license. The pay of $4,500 per month is about correct but you will not receive vacation pay - it is included in the $4,500. That is for 12 hours per day - every day. You would be better off by applying to Mississippi River US flag vessel companies where the pay is better and the vacation too. There are several companies with the new company that is building vessels now.

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Yeah, the ships are massive and the 3rd mate’s job of safety inspections is never ending so definitely 12 hours every day. It might be worth it if you’re desperate for sea time to upgrade but it isn’t a worthwhile career choice.

If no vacation time means no getting off the ship when pier side, it sounds like a bad bargain.

No vacation PAY not no vacation time.
I’m not sure how much, if any, free time officers on cruise ships have on port calls. I imagine it’s very little if any.

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If no other work available,consider what you need to do to pay your bills. . Hopefully jobs outlook will improve later. Wish I had a crystal ball as to when…The other posters are correct, IF another job in USA was/is available. Cruise ships do not pay as well as one would think, but is a paycheck. Lotta people knocking on doors these days. Follow or get ahead of them. Best of luck sir.

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