Cruise Ship Officer

Cruise Ship Officer


New York, NY

Male, 33

I have worked as a deck officer on large cruise ships for almost a decade. When standing watch on the bridge for eight hours a day, I was directly responsible for the safety and navigation of the vessel. In addition, in my roles as Safety Officer and Chief Officer, I have had duties outside of the bridge regarding emergency response and procedures.

SubscribeGet emails when new questions are answered. Ask Me Anything!Show Bio +


Ask me anything!

Submit Your Question

42 Questions


Last Answer on May 17, 2012

Best Rated

I still don't understand how the Italian ship actually tipped over. I've heard some experts say that the lower levels are supposed to have water-tight compartments to prevent exactly that from happening.

Asked by david over 8 years ago

As with all these answers, until the report comes out we don't know for sure, and it is all speculation. But we do know the rock opened up a very, very long hole in the side of the ship. Ships are broken into watertight compartments that stretch from the bottom of the ship to a few decks above the waterline. This prevents a hole in one part of the ship from sinking the entire ship-- one watertight compartment would fill but the ship can still easily float. The Concordia was designed so that multiple compartments could be flooded and the ship would still be afloat, but I suspect the damage was just simply too large and the number of compartments penetrated exceeded the number she could still float with. At this point, with water rushing in, the ship began to lose her stability. As to what caused the ship to start listing- it could be a number of factors. Perhaps the ship turned sharply well after a lot of water was in, causing water to rush to one side. It could be any number of reasons because the stability was already compromised. But as the ship began to list, and without power to pump or transfer water to the other side, the situation got progressively worse, and the other design elements in place to keep the ship from listing were probably just not enough to deal with the amount of water in the ship given the size and length of the damage.

Is the 'women and children first' rule still in effect, or is it antiquated at this point?

Asked by ondabriny over 8 years ago

Antiquated. What surprises me are the news reports that this was- either formally or informally- the policy at some boats on the Concordia. None of the passenger ships I've worked on have had this rule at all. In fact, it is the opposite-- to keep passengers calm, you want to keep families together. Splitting people up will only make crowd control more difficult.

Is there any new boat technology in the works to minimize rockiness even in choppy waters?

Asked by Johnny Dramamine over 8 years ago

Nothing new that I know of. However, stabilizers are remarkably effective at reducing the rolling of a ship-- most of the time, ensuring the ship does not roll more than say 2 or 3 degrees. (Keep in mind cruiseships generally sail in areas where the seas are calm anyway, and so the rolling is likely to be much less than that to start with.) In fact, stabilizers are so effective that it can somewhat change your strategy for minimizing discomfort-- in the past, you would put a ship's bow into the seas to reduce rolling and just have the ship pitch. Now, you can put the seas more on the side and have the ship more stable, thanks to the stabilizers. Of course, stabilizers do not work for pitching- ie the ship heading directly into seas and the bow going up and down- and no technology is in the works that I know of to address that issue. Some yachts have new systems that do allow them to minimize or reduce rolling even at anchor now, but I don't think you'll see that on cruiseships anytime soon-- in large part because there is not really a need for it.

Are officers allowed to drink alcohol during off-hours?

Asked by G-Fitz over 8 years ago

Company policy dictates this usually. On most cruiseships it is OK to have a drink during off hours, but never exceeding certain limits, and generally not within 4 hours of duty. Again, this varies, however- some companies operate dry ships.

Why do you think certain cruise lines (like Carnival), and perhaps cruises in general, have a bit of negative stigma as far as vacation choices go? So many people seem to turn their noses up at them, never really understood why.

Asked by Feelin Hot Hot Hot over 8 years ago

I think it is a variety of reasons. A very large number of people are just put off by the worry of being sea sick. Lots of others think there is nothing to do onboard (except eat). Others hate the idea of being 'trapped' or 'confined' with thousands of other people and having to deal with 'forced revelry' that you can't 'escape from.' Carnival initially played up its "FunShips" theme so much to appeal to a broader demographic; that probably tainted the industry in the eyes of many. (Now, however, Carnival is trying to tone down its fun ship/party image, and be more family friendly.) Of course, the reality is that cruising has so many different niches there is a cruise for everyone- from ultra-luxurious small ships that rival some of the best accommodations on land to adventure trips to Antarctica to barges in France. That seems like a PR answer, but I genuinely think it is true.

Alright, god's honest truth -- have you ever hooked up with a passenger?

Asked by Pink182 over 8 years ago

It certainly happens, no doubt about it, although every company has policies against it (and varying levels of enforcement.) But far more common is internal relations with the crew. People often ask if that is allowed-- and it is, absolutely.

What's the biggest secret about cruises or cruise ships that 99.9% of people don't know?

Asked by Jerry over 8 years ago

I've been thinking about this for a while and can't come up with a good answer. But I think I'll answer it with one aspect of the industry that is often reported but, I feel, inaccurate: that cruising is somehow this completely unregulated industry where every ship can do what they want. True, ships are registered in Bahamas or Panama or wherever, but they are all subject to port state control inspections in the countries they go visit and all follow internationally approved (by IMO) safety standards in SOLAS. Any large cruise ship built today has tremendous safety equipment and the crew will undergo a lot of training. And they all follow the regulations! I saw one email today from a company proposing new changes post Concordia, including having to send verification for every passenger booked in the US that an emergency drill was held prior to departure. I do believe there needs to be a drill before departure; why there needs to be a separate verification sent is something I find hard to understand. If there is a requirement to do so, ship's officers will do so. They have licenses and undergo years of training and know the importance of following these international regulations; it isn't like in this day and age once this becomes a requirement they would simply not do the drill and hope no one notices. Yes, ships are registered in a variety of countries, and yes I believe a ship registered in the UK is subject to more stringent inspections than one say in Liberia. But that does not mean that the Liberian registered ship does not meet certain standards or acts without any regard to international laws or regulation.