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  #1 (permalink)  
Old July 31st, 2004, 12:58 AM
cwg
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Default Captain questions

I'm new here so I hope this isn't too weird to ask....

I've only cruised three times but absolutely love everything about cruising. I am an author and am starting work on a new novel which will be set on a cruise ship. I just read a book by someone else that was set on a cruise ship but it was obvious the author had done little or no research and the book suffered greatly because of it. So I hope readers of this board can help me with some questions I'm trying to answer.

What "free time" does the ship's captain have during a cruise?
Can the captain leave the ship while in port and do touristy things?
Are there restrictions on how much "fratrinizing" the captain does with passengers?
How much of the captain's time is actually spent piloting the ship? How much is spent handling administrative duties? How much time is spent handling "social" duties (hosting, etc.)
What are the captain's quarters like? Does he have an office on board?
Does the captain ever hang out "incognito" in passenger areas during his "off duty" time? Or must he always be in uniform while on the ship?
Where do the ships' officers generally eat their meals? I understand that some of the officers take turns "hosting" a table in the passenger dining rooms but where do they eat when they're not doing this? And how often during a cruise would the various officers be required to host a table?
The captain puts in appearances at various events like the Captain's Cocktail Party, etc. How often during a typical cruise would the captain appear formally like this? Where and when would the captain mingle informally with passengers?
When the captain does make an appearance and speak to the passengers in a hosting type of capacity, he generally is quite entertaining. Can anyone remember anything in particular that a captain has said to the passengers that you found memorable or particularly humerous?

I would appreciate any insight and information anyone can give about the captain's role and habits and duties during a typical cruise. And if anyone would like to suggest a good book or other sites on the internet that might be helpful to me, I'd really appreciate any tips.

Thank you in advance for any help you can give me!

cwg
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Old July 31st, 2004, 08:24 AM
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Default Re: Captain questions

Hi and welcome to CruiseMates! I would suggest you check out another board here, under People, go to Crewmembers. Perhaps you could find some answers to your questions there. Meanwhile, hang around this board and you will see how addicted cruisers like us can become!
BTW, I want to read your book when it's done!

donna

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Old July 31st, 2004, 08:54 AM
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Default Re: Captain questions

Hi CWG:

I can only answer from my own personal experience and from the discussions I have had with a couple of and senior staff.

The Captain does have free time but not much: He is basically on call 7x24 and is required to be on the bridge for any nautical emergency and when the ship enters and leaves ports.

The Captain represents the cruise line at all times, therefore his code of conduct keeps his fraternizing to a social level or at least a discreet level.

The Captain can eat anywhere he wants. This can be at the Captains table in the main dining room to the crew mess. Many Captains enjoy dining and socializing with passengers and there are some who cringe when having to do so. The trend seems to be that many Captains are being promoted as much on their social skills as well as their seamanship skills. A Captain probably averages less than 2 hours a day in socialization over the course of a 7 day cruise. Do not disregard the seamanship skills. It doesn't just take a a handsome face and good manners to become Captain. It also takes many years of work and service on vessels and constant training and testing to acquire a Masters License. The Captain is not the only officer on board that has a Masters License. The First Officer and Second Officer and usually the Chief Engineer also hold a Masters License.

A Captain must be in uniform at all times they are on the ship. If they are on the ship they are technically on duty. They can be out of uniform when they leave the ship and they can do some touristy things in ports.

The only Captains quarters I have seen were on the SS Norway and they were very nice. Living quarters were about as large as a full suite and there was a full office. Most Captains do have a larger living quarters plus an office for administrative duties and meetings.

Certain officers such as the Hotel Captain, Staff Captain and the Chief Engineer may sit with guests at dinner or at the Captains table. I have dined three times at the Captains table and only once was with the Captain. The other two times were with the Hotel Captain and with the Chief Engineer and both of those were far more interesting than the Captain. This may have been because they were more involved with the workings of the ship and the logistics and that is what I am interested in. They were also better conversationalists.

The two Captains that stand out in my mind are:
Captain Gangdahl of the SS Norway
Captain Antalis of the Serenade of the Seas

Captain Antalis was one of the most impressive because of his social skills, humor and communication skills. I was privileged to be part of a bridge tour conducted by him and it was the most informative bridge tour I have had. We also had a medical evacuation in the mid-pacific and he scheduled a question and answer session while at sea to answer passenger questions. I admired this.

Captain Gangdahl had a great sense of humor and he had a love of his ship that could be seen when he talked about the old girl. He had been at sea many years and you could tell that he identified with the history of the SS Norway and was honored to be her Captain.

I hope I haven't rambled too much and caused you further confusion.

Take care,
Mike

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Old July 31st, 2004, 09:14 AM
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Default Re: Captain questions

Mike, I enjoyed reading your answer very much. Lots of info that I didn't know.

Thanks,
Phyll

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Old July 31st, 2004, 10:47 AM
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Default Re: Captain questions



Can the captain leave the ship while in port and do touristy things? >>
im sure that he could but hes been to these ports so many times he most likely will stay on board

Are there restrictions on how much "fratrinizing" the captain does with passengers? >>
totally up to him but certain duties come first

How much of the captain's time is actually spent piloting the ship?>>
the captain is on the bridge when the ship enters and leaves port but most of the time there is a river pilot on board giving the commands --when the ship is at sea he will most llikely share the piloting with other senior deck officers -there must be 2 officers on the bridge at all times even when at port ---a great deal of the piloting is done by computer but as stated earllier he has the overall responsibilty of the ship pax and crew even though most of the work is delegated to others

How much is spent handling administrative duties? How much time is spent handling "social" duties (hosting, etc.) >>>>> havent got a clue on this one

What are the captain's quarters like? Does he have an office on board?>>
i believe that there is a day cabin on the bridge where he can "hide" and maybe take a nap and do paperwork --------then there is his cabin which is most likely very well equipped ----senior officers can have their wives on board

Does the captain ever hang out "incognito" in passenger areas during his "off duty" time? Or must he always be in uniform while on the ship?>>
uniform is the dress of the day - every day

Where do the ships' officers generally eat their meals?>>> have seen officers eat at the buffet where they take an area in the corner some place and eat with other crew

The captain puts in appearances at various events like the Captain's Cocktail Party, etc. How often during a typical cruise would the captain appear formally like this? >>>
there is usually a suite cocktail party and on hal there is either a suite dinner or luncheon where he and other officers show up --there is also the photo session where he will have his pix taken with every pax that wants one

Can anyone remember anything in particular that a captain has said to the passengers that you found memorable or particularly humerous?>>>

we went to the suite luncheon on one hal cruise and when i was introduced to the captain i told him that i had missed having our pix taken with him and wanted to know if i could get one during this gettogether --he asked if i had my camera with me and he took it from me -stood next to me and held the camera out in front of us and took the pix himself --he thought that was quite amusing --then he called one of the officers over and asked him to take a more formal pix of us

hope this gives you some additional insight----------good luck with the book

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Old July 31st, 2004, 03:37 PM
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Default Re: Captain questions

Hi and welcome,
As an avid reader, I have enjoyed reading many books, set on cruise ships..When you have finished your tome, PLEASE come back and tell us about it..I will be first in line at Amazon.com

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Old July 31st, 2004, 05:17 PM
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Default Re: Captain questions

According to staff members I talked to on the SOS the Captain is not required to be on the ship for it to sail. The ship can depart and sail and dock by computer systems. The only person who absolutely must be on the ship for it to sail is the ship's doctor.

The Captain is much like a CEO of a corporation. He manages the entire business and makes the decisions to divert from a port, offer onboard charge credits for customer service, detain unruly passengers, sail around bad weather, discharge poor employees, and basically all other functions involved with running a business. On top of this, he has to be the best PR representative the company has on the ship.

Regards,
Thomas
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Old July 31st, 2004, 05:20 PM
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Default Re: Captain questions

welcome onboard.
i thought i would refer you to the cunard board on cms. we talk A LOT about captian wright, master of the QM2. he really is an officer and a gentleman. we met him in the golden lion and had a few lovely chats with him. he was always in uniform. one comment i heard onboard, and i'm sure this is a kind of urban legend, was a pax called the purser to ask how they got out of their cabin. the story goes: one door is into the bathroom and the other has do not disturb on it! you should include this in your book. btw i to am writing a book not on a ship, but it is a topic i had toyed with, good luck and can i have a signed copy please?

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Old July 31st, 2004, 06:51 PM
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Default Re: Captain questions

What "free time" does the ship's captain have during a cruise?

He has some free time, probably a bit more while in port

Can the captain leave the ship while in port and do touristy things?

Yes, he can. Just has to let them know up on the bridge and it will sometimes involve spending time with family that is visiting

Are there restrictions on how much "fratrinizing" the captain does with passengers?
I do not think there are real restrictions as far as officers go, though many captains are married and they do have to set a good example.

How much of the captain's time is actually spent piloting the ship? How much is spent handling administrative duties? How much time is spent handling "social" duties (hosting, etc.)

Now, piloting the ship is not strictly speaking his 24/7 job. The only time the captain is actually manually controlling the ship is during turning around the ship and coming up to the dock itself. Channel navigation is handled by a quartermaster under his/the pilot's direction. The ship is not docked using a computer. ONLY the Captain and Staff Captain will do that. They do sail using the autopilot in open sea. OFFICERS handle the watches themselves, the captain is in charge of course, speed, etc. planning and execution. Much of his time is administrative, running the ship as a whole, etc. I'd say he has a VIP dinner, captain's dinner, a few cocktail parties a week, and a few nights he might invite a VIP down to the officer's mess.

What are the captain's quarters like? Does he have an office on board?

The captain's quarters are like suites. Officers below Staff Captain/Staff Chief engineer will have smaller cabins, around the size of a smaller-than-normal OV cabin, but they spend much of their time working, eating, and they do socialize some of the time. The sleep is just that.....sleep. The captain however does spend much of his time in his office, which on CCL fantasy class ships is in his cabin, the first room after you walk through the entryway. He has a large sitting room, and a bedroom which I have not seen (though I have seen where it is) but I guess it is very nice.

Does the captain ever hang out "incognito" in passenger areas during his "off duty" time? Or must he always be in uniform while on the ship?
I think he is usually in uniform, doesn't hang out incognito as such.

Where do the ships' officers generally eat their meals? I understand that some of the officers take turns "hosting" a table in the passenger dining rooms but where do they eat when they're not doing this? And how often during a cruise would the various officers be required to host a table?

In my experience on Paradise officers haven't hosted tables except at the VIP dinner. Other than that the officers have a very nice messroom in the crew areas nearby to the Petty Officer mess and also near the regular crew mess. They have good food, but they need to go to the crew mess for the ice cream machine. On one of my cruises the 2nd officer had his family aboard from Italy, and since I knew him I'd stop by when he went (formal nights)

The captain puts in appearances at various events like the Captain's Cocktail Party, etc. How often during a typical cruise would the captain appear formally like this? Where and when would the captain mingle informally with passengers?

The captain has the formal cocktail party when he wears the white coat. He wears the normal coat at the Past Guest party, and VIP cocktail party, as well as the VIP dinner. Occasionally they have other parties and functions. He might invite certain pax. to his office/cabin, officer's mess, or something similar.

When the captain does make an appearance and speak to the passengers in a hosting type of capacity, he generally is quite entertaining. Can anyone remember anything in particular that a captain has said to the passengers that you found memorable or particularly humerous?

I don't remember anything in particular. HOWEVER the one thing that every captain wishes they could throw the novices overboard for would be the "who's steering the ship then *haw haw haw*" comment. It has to be so annoying and repetitive and shows the ignorance of the people aboard

Hope this helps

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Old July 31st, 2004, 08:01 PM
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Default Re: Captain questions

Thomas:
With modern techonology and with the level of accuracy of charting the ship can be piloted completely by computer, much the same way as todays airliners. I think it's one of the reasons they got rid of the peep holes in the cock pit doors prior to 9/11. Some people would take a peek in the cock pit and see a Captain or First Officer reading the paper. :-)

The only thing is that if a cruise line wants to stay in compliance with SOLAS standards they have to have a lot more people onboard than just a doctor. They have to have two people with a Masters License one the Master (Captain) and the other the First Officer, a Fire Safety Officer who reports to the Master, A Security Officer who reports to the First Officer or Master plus a number of other crew. Neither of these positions can be the Master or First Officer, etc.

Now if you don't have 12 paying passengers aboard then SOLAS standards don't apply. This is probably where the doctor requirement comes into effect.

It gets so complicated when you have regulations and paying passengers involved. :-)

Take care,
Mike

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Old August 2nd, 2004, 08:18 AM
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Default Re: Captain questions

I recommend you read "If I Were Not Upon The Sea (Under the Captain's Table)" by Joyce Gleeson Adamidis. She's a Captain's wife and the book contains many memoirs of living onboard ship. It may not answer all your questions but would be good research (and it's a very interesting book, too.)

Cheers,
Michelle P.

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Old August 2nd, 2004, 11:25 AM
cwg
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Default Re: Captain questions

Thank you all so much for your help! You all seem so knowledgeable and well-traveled. I really am grateful for all the insight you've provided - now I am excited to get to work on this book!

I am really glad to have found this website and these message boards - I love cruising and although I've only been on three cruises, I hope to make it a lifelong habit. I love the sea and I love ships. Mostly, though, I love having someone else fix my meals and make my bed!

Thanks again!
cwg
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