How long does the captain remain the captain of a particular ship? Do they change frequently? And when do they take vacations? Do they just get a few weeks at a time or do they just get a break between contracts? How long does a captain's contract last?
Cruise Lines often employ captains for many years. Some captains like to stay with one ship, but most move around to different ships regularly. It is common to have a few "ace" captains that the cruise lines will use to bring out the newest ships, especially if they are a new & bigger model.
Generally, a captain's contract works like any other officer. About 4 1/2 months on with a 6-week vacation. They are flexible. If the captain has been with the company a long time he may take longer vacations.
Ships often change captains because it is easier to have a rotation than it is to have one captain and find a replacement for him just during his vacation time. So it will have one captain for 4 months, then a new one for 4 months, etc...
I am the editor, but I also speculate, ask questions and play devil's advocate. I reserve the right to change my mind.
Thank you, Paul, for your answer. I have been curious about this for a long time, and am glad I've found a place where I could get an answer. I do have one more question: are captain's wives allowed to "live" onboard with their husbands? It must be a difficult life for a family - my cousin was captain of a cargo ship and his wife is able to spend some time aboard with him but not more than a couple weeks at a time. But his arrangement is different - six months at sea, six months at home. I am curious how the wives of cruise ship captains deal with living arrangements and separation.