How Much Does a Cruise Ship Captains Make In 2024?

Commanding mighty vessels is not a sinecure. Managing a diverse crew, ensuring the passenger’s safety, and dealing with harsh weather challenges are the daily chores of a cruise ship captain. 

But I know the cruise captains love all such adventures. In fact, they have to feed their families, and has a decent salary develops a deeper affection for their work. 

You’re in the right place if you’re searching for how much a cruise ship captain makes. In today’s guide, I will explain the paychecks of cruise captains and tell you whether this career is worth considering for you and how you can become a successful cruise captain. 

Pour yourself some coffee, and let’s dive in.

How Much is The Cruise Ship Captain Salary?

 Cruise Ship Captain

According to authentic resources, including, salary experts, and Indeed, the average salary of a cruise captain is $107,503 to $132,001. But keep in mind that the salary of a cruise captain varies depending upon the experience, skills, qualifications, and more. 

If you look at it, the average yearly salary for a cruise captain is around $107,503, about $53.75 per hour. That’s pretty impressive.

I know high-paying jobs attract every eye, but it’s not a piece of cake. A cruise captain is highly accountable because managing such a large vessel is not easy. Along with the perfect managing skill, you need courage, a resilient mindset, and a strong grip on emotions to face challenges while sailing. 

Some cruise lines offer $75k annual salary to freshly appointed cruise captains, and they are under the supervision of seniors. Meanwhile, the seniors get the $132K to $150k paycheck, and they look like the most responsible individuals on the planet because they are responsible for the thousands of lives on the vessel. 

Cruise Lines That Pays The Highest Salaries To Captains?

Many cruise lines operate in the United States, but only a few are hitting it big and dominating the entire business. 

If you’re a captain of any big cruise line and serving it through the core of hearts, you will get paid magnificently. However, some notable cruise lines always seek an experienced and skilled person. You must be capable of managing a large vessel while sailing the high seas. 


Among all the famous and luxury cruise lines, the Regent Seven, Seabourn, and Crystal Cruises offer cruise captains a $150,000 salary. On top of that, some additional perks, luxury accommodation, and food are also included

Besides, when it comes to Royal Caribbean and Celebrity cruises, they’re not stingy with their cash either. These guys are throwing big bucks at their cruise captains. 

Because both these cruise lines operate these colossal ships with loads of passengers and crew, the cruise captains end up shouldering a massive responsibility. That’s why these cruise lines also give over $150K salary to the captains. 

The Cruise Ship Captain’s Salary Depends on Few Factors 

The salary of a cruise ship captain is not fixed; it depends on a few factors, like experience, qualifications, management skills, ship size, location, and cruise lines.

1- Experience 

The first thing that every cruise line needs is an experienced individual capable of handling the colossal vessel. The more experience you have, the greater your wages will be. 

Also, an experienced cruise captain knows how to maneuver the ship, so cruise lines trust him. The popular cruise lines give handsome paychecks to experienced captains, and it’s almost more than 150K. Meanwhile, novice captains only get a $60k paycheck. 

2- Qualifications 

The second factor that influences the wage of a cruise captain is qualification. If you have a strong educational background, a high-level degree in management, and a Master’s degree in Maritime studies, your chances of getting a solid salary will be higher. 

3- The Size Of Ship 

The larger the ship’s size, the more responsibilities on a captain’s shoulder. You have to manage more crew and take care of thousands of guests. That’s why the captains of big Cruises have over $150k in yearly income. 

4- Cruise Line

Famous cruise lines like Royal Caribbean, Celebrity Cruises, Carnival, and Norwegian Cruise Line offer higher wages than other small cruise lines. So, you will get a thick paycheck if you’re a captain of any dominating cruise line. 

5- Location 

The last thing that determines the salary of a cruise captain is location. Few areas are very posh and home to elite-class people of society, and the captains’ salaries in such areas are higher than others. 

I have seen captains from Europe and North America have higher wages than Australian cruise captains. Similarly, the wages of cruise captains in Asian countries are also lower.

How To Become A Cruise Ship Captain?

Become A Cruise Ship Captain

I have seen many successful cruise captains with handsome wages, and almost all of them are 33 to 35+. This means that to succeed in this field, you have to struggle more. 

First, you need four years of a bachelor’s degree in Marine Engineering or Nautical science, 2 years for a Master’s degree, and if you want to achieve more success, add 2 more years for an MBA degree. 

Along with these 8 years of professional education, you also need solid experience in the maritime industry and a valid license and certification from authorized organizations.  

It’s true, If I say you need great patience in this field. You’ll surely reach your dream destination if you’re dedicated to becoming a successful cruise captain and truly passionate about your work.

A few of the most notable cruise lines, like Carnival, Royal Caribbean, and Disney, demand at least 10 years of experience for cruise captains. 

Give it about 10 years after your education, and you’ll start making a name for yourself in the industry. So, hang in there, do the work, and stay patient.

Along with the degrees, leadership skills are also key to becoming a successful cruise captain. You must be excellent in communication with the crew and guests. 

The Rewards That Cruise Ship Captain Receives?

Rewards That Cruise Ship Captain Receives

Cruise lines always look out for their cruise captains. After all, these captains spend their whole careers caring for guests and ensuring they have the best sailing experience.

That’s why cruise captains also get some bonuses and perks. Here are some of the perks that every cruise captain gets. 

1- Free Accommodation 

Along with the decent salary, the cruise captains enjoy free accommodations. Their rooms are not basic; they get high-quality rooms on board with a balcony and all other amenities. 

2- Free Means

Cruise captains enjoy free meals onboard. There is a crew mess hall on all the cruises where the captain is the dominating personality sitting among the crew and enjoying with them. The cruise captains can also dine with any restaurant if they wish. 

3- Chef Guests Of Exclusive Events 

Cruise captains are like the heroes onboard; everybody takes selfies with them. And often become the chief guest at the exclusive ship’s events, cocktail parties, captain’s dinners, and other events. So all such events are a great moment of pride for them. 

4- Travel Opportunities 

The cruise captains unlock their excision options along with the other perks. With every voyage, they get a chance to visit some cool destinations and explore the world without paying a single penny. 

5- Family Benefits 

All the cruise lines allow cruise captains to bring their family on board without fares. Even though the family can’t always stay with the captain, cruise ships typically welcome the captain’s family, and they can enjoy the free voyage for a few days. 

The Challenges Cruise Captains Have To Confront

I have said earlier that a cruise ship captain’s job is not like walking in a park; they must make many sacrifices and face many challenges to ensure a comfortable sailing. 

1- Responsibilities On Their Shoulders

The cruise captain has a lot of responsibilities on their shoulders. They are responsible for the safety and must handle all the cruise operations to satisfy all the guests. 

2- Sacrifices 

The busy schedule of cruise captains keeps them away from their families, and they often miss out on many family events and parties.

3- Multi-Tasking 

This is a bitter truth that the captain has to manage many things at a time. I know not every individual can do a cruise ship captain’s job.

At a time, they have to manage the crew, deal with the operation of a vessel, safety, compliance and regulations, and more. 


How much do cruise ship captains make?

Cruise ship captains make between $75K and $ 150 K. However, the salary depends on the experience, qualifications, and skills. 

What is the average monthly wage of a cruise ship captain?

The average monthly wage of a cruise ship captain starts from $6k/month. However, the senior captain has even more than $10K+ month wages. So it all depends on your experience and skills. 

What are the responsibilities of a cruise ship captain?

A cruise ship captain has a lot of responsibilities like overseas navigation, ensuring passenger safety, handling emergencies, managing the crew, complying with maritime regulations, handling events, and more. 

What factors determine the typical cruise ship captain salary?

Factors determining the salary of cruise ship captains include experience, educational background, vessel size, cruise line, and location. 

What is the salary of a Royal Caribbean Cruise ship Captain?

According to, the salary of a Royal Caribbean cruise captain is between $80,000 and $100,000, and the average salary is $88,000. Besides this, the Royal Caribbean cruise directors and captains get many free perks and bonuses. Royal Caribbean captains’ salary widely depends on region, education level, and experience. 

What is the salary of Carnival cruise captains?

The captains of Carnival cruises can make between $100,000 to $200,000. The salary of Carnival cruise captains depends on their experience, as this cruise line requires at least 10 years of maritime experience. 

What is The Salary Of Disney Cruise Ship Captains?

Disney Cruise is more kind-hearted towards the cruise crew, and the average salary for a captain falls between $150,000 and $250,000, surpassing other cruise lines. Additionally, there are reportedly attractive bonuses provided to captains, directors, managers, and other cruise staff members.

What Is The Salary Of Norwegian Cruise Ship Captain?

The average salary of a Norwegian cruise captain is similar to that of the Carnival cruise captains, who also make between $100,000 and $200,000. They pay higher wages than other cruise lines and offer bonuses and perks. 

What Is The Salary Of Princess Cruise Ship Captain?

The average captain’s salary on Princess Cruises ranges from $90,000 to $100,000. However, the salary might vary depending on the skills, experience, education, and region. 

Final Thoughts 

Undoubtedly, cruise ship captains have handsome salaries between $75K to $ 150K. The plus point is that they have very few expensive cruise lines that provide all the facilities to them, including accommodation, meals, laundry, and other bonuses. 

Despite all such perks and amazing paychecks, cruise captains have to deal with many challenges, and they have a bundle of responsibilities on their shoulders. 

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