Look Inside The Captain’s Quarters on a Cruise Ship

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Ever wondered about a cruise ship captain’s quarters? The captain is a pretty key person on your cruise, so surely they must have some pretty swish accommodation to keep them happy, right?

Royal Caribbean Cruise ship captain

Or are they like the rest of the crew – given the most basic features, so that guests are always the priority?

Well, I spoke to the deputy captain of Azura and asked him what his room was like. He said it was nice and had a window. But sadly no balcony.

I love it when cruise ship captains take the time to chat with guests!

So, what is the captain’s bedroom like on cruise ship? Let’s take a look….

Where does the captain sleep on a cruise ship?

A cruise ship captain will always have their own quarters, unlike the general crew who will typically share a room. Typically all senior officers onboard a ship will be given more spacious, well-appointed accommodations to reflect the seniority of their role.

The Captain's bedroom on Celebrity Edge
The Captain’s bedroom on Celebrity Edge

The captain’s quarters will vary by ship but typically there’ll be a separate bedroom and office space, so that the captain is able to switch off for a few hours of sleep without being in ‘work mode’.

However, they will be on call, so if there’s an urgent situation they’ll be summoned to the bridge to handle it. The cruise ship captain is one of the few roles where there are no relief workers – captains are responsible for the ship 24/7 during their working time, and there is no actual time off while they’re on the ship. They’ll either be working or on-call.

What are the captain’s quarters on a ship called?

There isn’t a special name for a cruise ship captain’s quarters – they can be called the captain’s quarters, the captain’s cabin, or the master stateroom or suite. It varies by ship, instead of being a standard name. Most people will colloquially refer to them as the captain’s quarters.

The reason most people will refer to them as “quarters” rather than a room is that they aren’t usually just one room. Most captains will have a full-blown suite with multiple rooms, but calling it a “suite” sounds too luxurious.

Entrance to the Captain's Suite on Celebrity Edge
Entrance to the Captain’s Quarters on Harmony of the Seas

With other types of ship, there may be two cabins, instead of one larger room. They’d be called the in-port cabin and the at-sea cabin. The in-port cabin is the main accommodation and the at-sea cabin is a more basic option close to the bridge, where a captain might sleep during times when urgent action may be necessary.

But on cruise ships, the captain is always on call and so they tend to just have one quarters, which will be adjacent to the bridge.

Where are the captain’s quarters on a ship?

The captain’s quarters on a cruise ship will always be close to the bridge, often with a door giving direct access to the bridge from the cabin. This allows the captain to get onto the bridge immediately if there is an emergency or other situation which requires their instant attention.

As you can see here, the bridge will usually be visible from the captain’s window…

view of the bridge from the captain's quarters

Being a cruise ship captain is not easy – you don’t really get downtime and even your own private quarters are directly linked to the space where you work. Plus your cabin will likely contain an office. 

captain's room with office
Captain’s office

You could argue the same applies to everyone on a cruise ship – you don’t really get separation between work and private time – but it’s worse for a captain since their private space is so close to where they work.

Why is the captain’s cabin always at the starboard?

Traditionally, the captain’s cabin would be situated on the starboard side of the ship because it was considered to be the superior side of the ship. However, as shipping laws developed, ships now pass on the starboard side and so the captain’s quarters being on that side allows the captain to monitor traffic.

With a modern cruise ship and all of the technology onboard, you’ll know of any ships approaching you for miles before they reach you. That being said, it’s always good for the captain to have the best visibility of oncoming ships, just for added safety.

captain's office on a cruise sji[
Captain’s Office

Having their cabin on the starboard side of the bridge, therefore, means they get an unimpeded view of the ships that will pass.

What facilities does a captain’s cabin have on a cruise ship?

Because the role of captain is so senior and respected, most cruise ships will make sure that their captains are very comfortable in their accommodations. Not only that, but they will provide space for entertaining, as there are some occasions where a captain may wish to invite guests, or it may be expected of them.

The size of cruise ship captains’ quarters will vary by each ship, and the dimensions aren’t made public. You won’t see them on deck plans either. But there have been a few insights into what a captain’s quarters looks like.

Here’s a look at the captain’s quarters on Royal Caribbean’s Harmony of the Seas:

@captainjohnnyfaevelen #welcome to the #captain #cabin and #office #onboard @Royal Caribbean #harmonyoftheseas #oasis #class #modern #cruiseship #shipslife #comfortable #life #at #sea ♬ original sound – Captain Johnny

Typically, the captain’s quarters will have a master bedroom with a spacious en-suite bathroom, and there will likely be a walk-in wardrobe. This is important because a cruise ship captain has to look their best – so they need space for their uniforms to be properly hung once laundered and pressed.

captain's bathroom
Captain’s Bathroom

There’ll be a living area, which will typically include some form of small kitchen. A cruise ship captain will avoid dining in the restaurants onboard the cruise ship most of the time, because they won’t have the time to meet with all the guests who will want to say hello and likely take selfies.

Having a small kitchen area allows a captain to prepare their own lighter meals when they aren’t getting food delivered from the galley, and helps a captain to keep themselves fueled with snacks during any busy times.

captain's room with kitchen
The Captain’s Kitchen on Harmony of the Seas

There’ll be a living area too, designed for the captain to relax. It may incorporate a dining table, because captains can sometimes host parties which could include dinner for elite guests. If that’s the case, expect there to be a guest bathroom too, so that guests aren’t walking through the main bedroom belonging to the captain.

From what we know of captain’s quarters, it seems like private balconies are not too common. That’s probably because they’re not needed – cruise ship captains get enough time looking out to sea during their actual job, and any downtime is likely to be spent watching TV or catching up with family online.

Finally, a captain will have an office space, and it’ll either be within the quarters or it’ll serve as the gateway between the living quarters and the bridge. These offices are often tech-heavy, with various monitors showing important readouts about the ship and the surrounding waters.

captain's room w office

There’ll be a fast PC too, which the captain will use to carry out some of their daily tasks, file reports and communicate with the necessary people at the cruise line’s headquarters and at each port of call. The best WiFi connections will be saved for the captain too since their work is so important.

What other perks do cruise ship captains enjoy?

There are other perks that cruise ship captains enjoy as part of their accommodation.

The WiFi access they have is not limited to working hours, and they’ll be able to spend as much time online as they want to when they’re relaxing. This can be used to stream box sets on their large TV, or to chat with family.

But sometimes, chatting with family online isn’t enough – so one of the best perks captains enjoy is having their family onboard the ship. Individual cruise lines will set their own policies on this but they may allow families to be onboard for extended periods of time, or to make occasional visits.

And it’s not just humans – cruise ship captains may also be allowed to have a pet living with them! Captain Kate McCue of Celebrity Cruises travels with her cat. This is her tour of the quarters on Celebrity Edge:

@captainkatemccue CRIBS: Captain’s Quarters, Suite Life Edition & tour du jour.  You asked for it… #fyp #foryou #captainscabin #celebrityedge #cruise #captain #room ♬ Alone – Petit Biscuit

You only get a fleeting view of the cat in the video but you can see the litter box and the cat food in the fridge too, so it’s not a temporary visitor.

Can you view a cruise ship’s captain’s quarters?

You usually won’t be able to visit a cruise ship’s captain’s quarters to see them for yourselves. Cruise ship captains are very busy people and when they’re not working in their office, they’ll be relaxing in their room – they don’t want to be disturbed just to host a tour!

captain's master bedroom w walk in closet

Some cruise ships do offer behind-the-scenes tours and they might show some of the crew accommodation, but only rooms that aren’t being used. Because the captain is always on the ship, that rules the captain’s quarters out. The tour may show off the bridge and there may be a view into the captain’s quarters from there, but discretion is usually maintained.

It used to be a lot more common for cruise ship captains to host the occasional party for the most elite guests but it’s an older tradition from the days of ocean liners. Some cruise ship captains may still choose to entertain within their room, but it wouldn’t be widely available.

Captain’s drinks or parties are still relatively common on cruise ships but they’ll be hosted in a different venue on the ship.

If you want to see inside a captain’s quarters, your best option is to keep tabs on social media and look out for quick video tours, like those I’ve included in this article. They’re rare though – captains are usually too busy to share things like this!

Captain Mikael Degerlund
Captain Mikael Degerlund

Final word

There you have it – a little bit of insight into how a cruise ship captain lives while they’re on a cruise ship.

Usually, a cruise ship captain will be at sea for three months at a time, so it’s important they’re comfortable, but they also need to be close to all the action for when they’re needed at short notice.

The videos I’ve included in this guide are from one of the biggest cruise ships in the world, and one of the most modern with Celebrity Edge. Older ships may have smaller quarters but they’ll still be as big as some of the suites on-board the ship.

If you want to know more about cruise ship captains, check out this guide to Captain Kate McCue, the Celebrity Cruises captain who shared her quarters on Celebrity Edge in the video above.

And if you want to know how much the captain gets paid (because we’re all a bit nosy about that, aren’t we?) I have a guide here for you: Cruise Ship Captain Salary Stats.

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Cruise Mummy

Jenni Fielding is the founder of Cruise Mummy. She has worked in the cruise industry since 2015 and has taken over 30 cruises. Now, she helps over 1 million people per month to plan their perfect cruise holidays.

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