The fact is that there are few professions which are not covered by a ships complement, or what land lubbers would call staff. From the Master down there are thousands who work at sea on a cruise liner. The perception that there is the crew, made up of your average ‘Joe’ is quite misplaced. The officers are obviously at the top of the list and they will have trained in a Nautical College, sat strict exams and gained their ‘ticket’ to serve in the Merchant Navy. The Navigation Officers, the First Officer and the Chief Engineer are all top people, and all topped by the Master, or the Captain.
The person totally responsible for his or her ship will have the right qualifications, but also the right qualities and a good amount of experience at sea. A Masters ticket is not something you apply for, it's given as an award for outstanding service. The ship is yours, but it is also your responsibility in terms of a safe passage and the safety of the passengers. The Captain also has to be comfortable with people, have a certain amount of diplomacy, and is happy chatting away at dinner with the passengers. The role demands a mix of technical skill with no shortage of charm, people skills and courtesy.
Meanwhile down in the engine room is an equally important part of the ships crew and that is the chief engineer. It's in the main, a male who will be a top engineer in mechanics and motor engine issues. The engineering staff will keep the ship running for the 98 days of a world cruise from Southampton. The Purser is the one that accounts for the ships supplies, so that’s an important cog in the wheel, and then there are the cabin stewards and the catering staff. Add to that the fitness experts, the spa therapists, the specialist lecturers, the doctors, and the nurses. Ships photographers, hairdressers, entertainers and musicians; there’s no end to the list of people who join a cruise apart from the passengers. On the biggest liners afloat there are nearly 3,000 staff to make it all work, like clockwork, or as the chief engineer will reply when the ship is ready to leave port; “Full steam ahead Captain”!