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The cruise ship is a floating city. It is operated like a giant hotel or resort. But there’s one thing to always remember, it’s still a cruise ship. To make sure the safety of the floating city, the Captain is the most important role of all. And all heads of department are accountable to the Captain. Yes, the Captain is your powerful CEO on board.

The working environment in the cruise ship is unique. To adopt to this unique environment, take a closer look into the hierarchy and ranks embedded in each cruise job onboard. By understanding the difference in stripes and ranks you’ll get to know how the chain of command works on a cruise ship.

Overview of Cruise Ship Hierarchy

A cruise ship is run like a small corporation. Similar to the president of a company, the Captain is in charge and is ultimately responsible. The Captain has a handful of senior officers that report to him just like a handful of vice presidents that would report to the president of a company. Beyond those high level ranks, the larger the cruise ship, the bigger the organizational chart of other ranks.

Another term for cruise job is rank. Typically, each department has a department head, managers, supervisors, specialist/staff and crew. The actual title of each cruise job varies by the cruise lines. This equates to a chain of command requiring all cruise team members to follow.  Not only the working environment but the assignment of cabin, the mess, the emergency duty and more is dominated by the ranks. The higher rank, the more benefit. In this way, choosing the right starting point is critical.

Picture says thousand words. To give you clear idea of Cruise Job lists and Cruise ship Ranks and Hierarchy, Les't start with following picture.

Expect for the navigation, engine, medical and entertainment department, all department fall under the Hotel Division. The vacancies from the hotel are similar to the 5-star resorts in the world. You are welcome to check the sub-page of each department for details.

Interpret the ranks from Cruise Ship Stripes

How to quickly understand the Hierarchy system? Recommended the first steps is to interpret the stripes on the epaulet. The more stripes, the more authority and responsibility.  The following chart gives you some idea. And each department may have their own specific color or stripe logo. Please keep in mind that the stripe systems vary in different ship.