In cruise ship jobs, employees are designated as officers, crew or staff.
Officers on a cruise ship are employees with specific authority and responsibility. The most senior level Executive and managerial cruise ship officers are usually in charge of operations and personnel within three cruise ship departments: Deck Department, Engineering Department, and Hotel Department.
Most cruise ship officers wear uniforms that include epaulettes, an ornamental shoulder piece displaying various stripes, colors and emblems.
While each cruise line will have its own standards for cruise ship officers’ uniforms, traditionally the cruise ship officer’s epaulettes consist of gold stripes (also known as bands or rings), along with a diamond.
The fastest way to recognize and identify a cruise ship officer’s rank is by the number and size of visible stripes on the epaulette of his or her uniforms, with senior officers’ epaulettes bearing more stripes that those of more junior officers.
Depending on the cruise line, epaulettes may also be color coded or include additional insignias or emblems to indicate the officer’s department or function.
For example, medical officers such as cruise doctors or nurses often have the color red between the stripes on their epaulettes. The Engine Department’s epaulettes are often colored purple between the stripes while the Hotel Department is designated by the color white.
Some cruise lines have an “executive loop” similar to that of the Royal Navy (instead of a diamond). Others cruise lines uniforms sport emblems such as an anchor or other local symbols. For example, the Engine Department’s epaulettes may include a symbol of a propeller.
The images below are to give you a general overview and some examples of the epaulettes you are likely to see on board a large cruise ship.
Four Stripe Cruise Ship Officers
Although the Master of the ship normally holds the title of Captain, there is a subtle difference between the two terms.
Other officers on board may also hold the rank of Captain such as the Staff Captain who is charged with a responsibility of the crew, staff and passengers.
The Staff Captain reports to the Captain and is second-in-command. He or she oversees the Deck Department and besides navigational aspects, is also charge of security, discipline, safety, the infirmary and sanitation.
The Chief Engineer runs the Engine Department. He or she reports to the Captain and is responsible for all technical aspects on a ship, including engines, electrical and air-conditioning, plumbing and general maintenance
The Hotel Manager reports to the Captain and is in charge of all the hotel services provided on board.
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Three and a Half Stripe Cruise Ship Officers
Three and a half stripe cruise ship officers report to four star officers. These individuals have significant responsibility for running operations in departments and managing other officers, staff and crew. Examples of three and a half stripe officers include: Chief Purser, Chief Electrician, Chief Radio Officer, Assistant Hotel Manager and Staff Engineer.
Three Stripe Cruise Ship Officers
Three stripe officer on cruise ships typically include high profile positions such as Ships’ Doctor, the Cruise Director, Chief Concierge, Chief of Security, Chief Officer and First Purser.
Two and a half stripe cruise ship officers include: Assistant F&B Manager, Bar Manager, Chief Steward, Assistant Cruise Director, First Officer, Chief Housekeeper, First Engineer and Maitre D’Hotel.
Two Stripe Cruise Ship Officers
Two stripe officers on cruise ships include: Nurse, Second Officer, Second Purser, Third Engineer, Second Electrician, Assistant Chief Housekeeper, Assistant Restaurant Manager.
One and a Half Stripe Cruise Ship Officers
One and a half stripe cruise ship officers can include: Third Officer, Third Purser and Senior Secretary.
One Stripe Cruise Ship Officers
One Stripe Officers are usually found in entry level cruise ship jobs and include: Cadet, Fourth Officer, Fourth Purser, Petty Officer, Apprentice Deck Officer, Apprentice Engineer.
Other Officers and Ranks
Staff members in managerial positions such as shop managers, casino managers, chefs and senior social staff personnel may have officer status and privileges although they don’t actually wear stripes