Jobs and departments on a cruise ship, part I.

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After a series of stories about my first years in the cruise industry, with a lot of positive comments. I thought it might be time to write something about the various jobs and departments one will find on a cruise ship. 
If you have no experience at all with cruise ships whether it is as a crewmember (or shoreside staff), passenger, or travel agent, you will be surprised about how many jobs there are on a cruise ship. 
Too many to list and explain here, as there are probably about 70 different types of jobs and it would take pages upon pages. So I will mention the most regular ones, which is by the way not necessarily the most important ones. Because on a cruise ship, there is no job which is more important than another job!

My last ship.

First thing to remember is the fact a Cruise ship is a Hotel or resort, on a keel. Actually, come to think of it, it is more a town or small city on a keel. This is because whatever you find in a hotel/resort or in a town these days, you will most likely find many of the same jobs on a cruise ship. There is very little that can not be done on a modern cruise ship these days. Especially the larger ships. Luckily, there is less crime on the big ships than in the towns and cities ashore.

All the workers onboard, or the Crewmembers, are normally assigned to one of the 3 main departments onboard. It might be the Hotel department which is by far the largest, Technical (Engine) department, or the Deck (Navigators, etc) department. In addition, a ship normally sails around with some outside contractors, training staff (teaching crew), and guest entertainers.  Let’s have a look at the various Main and Sub departments, because each main department is divided into smaller departments with their own Managers and Supervisors. 

A large hotel om a keel.

Engine Department.

I will start with the Technical Department, or the Engine department which it is most of the times called. This department is not surprisingly in charge of all the stuff which is related to maintaining and/or operating most of the electrical/technical and mechanical equipment, and all the big and small Engines and motors of course. The one in charge of the Department is the Chief Engineer or “The Chief” which he (or she) is often called.

The Chief is an Engine Officer whom has come up from the floor after the education, and worked through all the Engine Officer ranks, something which takes many years to do.  And the Chief is of course responsible for the departments performance in all regards, as well as in charge of budgets for repairs, maintenance, order future spare parts, order fuel for future voyages, within the size of budget given by the Company. Several of the Chief Engineers end up as Technical Superintendent shoreside.

Just like the other main departments, the Engine department has several Sub departments with their managers/supervisors. The Staff Chief Engineer takes care of the daily routines and is in charge of all the motor men, greasers, and all the Engine Officers. The Chief Electrician has all the various types of electricians and Electronics officers.

And most of the times you will also find the IT department in the Technical department. Yep, the “geeks” and “nerds” 😉 belong to the Engine department. I apologize for the silly nicknames guys. The IT department has become a more and more important department in these modern days. Each and every office onboard seem to have a computer workstation, with single or multi-screens, as well as printers (and scanners), depending who occupies this office. The Bridge is packed with computerized stuff. And so is the Engine Control room.

Two of the ship’s IT Officers.

Another sub department will be the Refer Engineer and his crew. Or the Refrigerating Officer, which is his official title. But he is often just just called “The Refer”. Can you imagine how many small, medium and huge walk-inn fridges and cooled store-rooms there are on a cruise ship? Not forget all the huge air con units and numerous of fan rooms. Every single room for passengers and crew will these days have air condition and ventilation installed. Every single passenger cabin will of course have fridges, as well as most of the Officers and crew cabins. All these will be in need for some sort of regular maintenance or repairs.

The Engine department has numerous of workshops to repair and maintain all the items onboard, where we can find some of the ship’s carpenters, repairmen (mechanical), electricians, and other service people. And of course we have the Engine Control Room , where we always have Engine Officers and ratings as the motormen, electricians, greasers, etc on duty in order to make sure the ship’s electrical supplies and propulsion systems are operating safely. They even control most of the ventilation and air condition from the Engine Control room. Whenever I visit the ECR, I make sure I never lean up against anything. 😉

Already mentioned the The Chief Electrician and his people. they take care of…correct everything electrical or electronic. This includes simple items as light bulbs, light switches, dimmer switches, televisions sets, search lights, navigations lights in the masts. Or more complicated items as Radars on the bridge, special buttons, switches, or levers on the Bridge and Engine control room. Various gauges in all kinds of rooms or on equipment, electrical wiring everywhere like in a big building or a city. You name what Electricians do shoreside, and they do the same onboard, in addition to the ship technical stuff. 

The Engine Department also take care of the technical upkeep of all the various whirlpools (hot tubs), and swimming pools onboard, as well as all the equipment the Entertainment department use.
Not to forget all the pipes onboard which transports waste water (black and grey water), fuel oil, lub oil, technical waste water, and freshwater. All the various types of pumps for Sewage (black water), Grey water (showers and sinks), Fuel, and everything you will find in the bathroom.

Engine Control Room.

I apologize for not remember all the things this department is responsible for. One thing is for sure, it is absolutely incredible what “know How’ they have combined when it comes to technical stuff in this department.

Again, sorry if I missed some of my technical colleagues here.

Next, let’s have a look at the Deck Department.

Rgds Sailor


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