How Much Do Cruise Ship Captains Make?

By Alice Nichols

Cruise ship captains are the highest-ranking officers on board a vessel, responsible for the safe and successful operation of their cruise ship. They are in control of the day-to-day operations and are ultimately responsible for the safety and security of passengers and crew. The pay for a cruise ship captain varies depending on experience, rank, cruise line, and type of voyage.

A typical salary for a captain operating a large cruise ship is around $119,000 per year. Captains with more experience can earn up to $200,000 per year. However, these figures do not include any additional bonuses or benefits the captain may receive from their employer.

The amount of time a captain spends at sea also affects their salary. Captains who work longer voyages tend to make more money than those who work shorter ones. Furthermore, captains may also receive additional compensation if they have special qualifications such as medical training or engineering expertise.

In addition to their annual salary, cruise ship captains may also receive other forms of compensation such as performance bonuses or stock options from their employers. Additionally, some captains may be eligible for housing allowances or complimentary travel packages.


Cruise ship captains can make an impressive salary depending on how much experience they have and which type of voyage they’re working on. A typical salary ranges from around $119,000 per year up to $200,000 per year depending on experience and qualifications. Captains may also be eligible to receive additional compensation such as performance bonuses or housing allowances.