P & O Cruises

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Ian H

00:00:03 My name is Ian H, I’m a Captain with P&O Cruises. As Captain you are overall – you have the overall responsibility for the safety of the ship, and all persons on board. So passengers and crew. On the ships I work on that’s about three thousand people. We are worldwide cruising, so really we’re cruising out of Southampton in the summer season, around the Mediterranean, the Canaries, up to the Baltic, Norway, across to Iceland and Greenland – which I’ve just been to recently. And then our sort of winter cruising, we tend to do world cruises, so January through till April, we are literally cruising around the world.

00:00:48]6 I was probably about 13, 14 when I became interested in going to sea. And it was actually a friend of the family who was in the Merchant Navy, he was actually an engineer, which I didn’t really fancy doing, I liked the fresh air and being up on deck and that side of things so – navigation has always appealed to me, and I was in the Sea Scouts, and sort of reading maps and compasses and things was always something I was interested in. And I always wanted to be a Captain, funnily enough, and the only way to be a Captain, was to go through the navigation branch.

00:01:27 I did my O-Levels and I, at that time, I could – could actually qualify and get in to the Merchant Navy at 16. And – but personally I decided to do A-Levels, because it was really as a fall-back, if it wasn’t for me. I mean it is quite a different career, that’s for sure, and it’s not going to suit everybody, but you’ve got to give it a go. And I gave it a go, and fortunately for me, it turned out to be the right choice. I did my – I mean your training – your apprenticeship, if you like, your cadetship – is time at college and time at sea, so I was – straightaway I was sponsored by P&O through my cadetship. So your cadetship there’s about three and a half years, and then once you’re qualified then, with your final exams, then you start the officer ranks, so that – overall for me that was a period, well I actually started – well I don’t know if I should give the year away, but it took me about 24 – 24 years from when I started, to when I became Captain in 2005.

00:02:35 I got married in 1993, and you do tend to reflect then, and say – well is this really what I want to do? Do I want to still keep going away, and being away from home? It was a point then when – there was a couple of times I looked at different jobs, usually involving the sea, at pilotage, which is driving the ships up rivers into Southampton, and things like that, which is still involving my own training, and what I had been doing, but it sort of gives you the chance to go home at night as well. It was a bit of a crossroads I suppose, and was I going to carry on. But it just sort of panned out that way, I think, the fact that the promotions came along, I ended up – the jobs didn’t come up with the pilots, at that time, when I wanted it. Had it have done, then I may have taken that path, but it didn’t, so I stayed where I was.

00:03:27 Yeah, although there’s some hard times along the way, and the difficulties that I mentioned about being away from home, it’s something I understood, at the beginning, and I knew it wouldn’t be easy. And it doesn’t get any easier – doesn’t get any easier going away from your family. But no I don’t – I wouldn’t say I regret anything, and no – I mean I wanted to be a professional footballer, but there you go, that wasn’t – that wasn’t the path for me in the end, so I stuck with what I’m doing, I enjoy it.

00:03:56 ENDS

Ian H is Captain of a P & O cruise ship. He has worked for P & O ever since he left school, doing qualifications with them and working his way up to Captain. He considered jobs that didn’t take him away from home for so long when he got married, but in the end he carried on cruising round the world.

More information about Ship and hovercraft officers

average salary

The UK average salary is £29,813

average weekly hours

There are 37.5 hours in the average working week

90%  male 
10%  female 

The UK workforce is 47% female and 53% male

Future employment

Future employment?

? Ship and hovercraft officers command and navigate ships and other craft, co-ordinate the activities of officers and deck and engine room ratings, operate and maintain communications equipment on board ship and undertake minor repairs to engines, boilers and other mechanical and electrical equipment.
Entrants usually possess GCSEs/S grades and A levels/H grades. Good colour vision without spectacles or contact lenses is required for some posts and candidates must undergo a medical examination. Training lasts three to four years and combines taught courses and assessed training at sea.
  • Allocates duties to ship’s officers and co-ordinates and directs the activities of deck and engine room ratings;
  • Directs or undertakes the operation of controls to inflate air cushions, run engines and propel and steer ships, hovercraft and other vessels;
  • Locates the position of vessel using electronic and other navigational aids such as charts and compasses and advises on navigation where appropriate;
  • Monitors the operation of engines, generators and other mechanical and electrical equipment and undertakes any necessary minor repairs;
  • Maintains radio contact with other vessels and coast stations;
  • Prepares watch keeping rota and maintains a look-out for other vessels or obstacles;
  • Maintains log of vessel’s progress, weather conditions, conduct of crew, etc.
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