A Captain of a cruise ship is actually a senior manager of a line of business. Each ship has a profit and loss statement, many levels of middle managers and hundreds of staff. At the top, is the Captain.
The Captain usually has a Staff Captain (second in command) who runs the engineering (making the ship run) and a Hotel Director who runs the hotel (making the passengers happy.) The Captain is also responsible for the safe navigation of the ship.
That said, I have found there are two types of Captains on cruise ships – there are brand ambassadors who focus on the customers, and those like we had this week who are invisible to the customers and manage the staff and drive the ship.
This week, we finished a cruise on the MSC Divina, where we rarely saw the Captain. Most of the senior staff were invisible. It was not our best cruise. I can’t tell you the Captain’s name without going to look it up.
Also this week, USA Today announced the ten best cruise ships for families. The winner was MSC Seaside. We sailed on the Seaside in May. Captain DiPalma was at all the functions. He seemed to be everywhere. He recognized me at the second function we attended together. He came to the Cruise Critic Meet & Greet to offer a toast. We’re friends on Facebook now.
The ship is a reflection of the Captain. Captain DiPalma runs a happy ship. I believe that is one reason why MSC Seaside beat Disney and why MSC Divina is not anywhere on the list.
Many people always ask who the Cruise Director or Hotel Director on a ship is before they travel. You might also look at the top. The Captain is where the ship begins.