How Much Does the Captain of a Large Cruise Ship Make?

By Robert Palmer

The salary of a cruise ship captain can vary greatly depending on the size of the vessel, the qualifications of the individual, and the country in which the ship is registered. Captains of large cruise ships make considerably more than captains of smaller vessels.

Captains of large cruise ships have considerable responsibility and must be highly skilled in order to ensure the safety and well-being of everyone onboard. They are responsible for navigating the vessel, ensuring that all safety regulations are followed, and managing any emergencies that may arise.

They also interact with passengers, oversee crew members, and manage day-to-day operations.

Large cruise ships can have thousands of passengers onboard and require a captain with extensive experience in navigation, seamanship, and leadership. Captains must have a valid certificate from their country’s maritime authority, as well as specialized training related to their specific type of vessel.

The salary for a captain of a large cruise ship can range from $80,000 to over $150,000 per year. The higher end salaries are usually reserved for captains with extensive experience or those who work for larger, more prestigious companies such as Carnival Cruise Line or Royal Caribbean International.

In addition to their base salary, captains may also receive bonuses for meeting performance goals or for completing long voyages without incident. These bonuses can add up to an additional 25% or more on top of their base salary.


The salary of a captain on board a large cruise ship can be very competitive depending on experience and qualifications. Captains can expect to make anywhere from $80,000 to over $150,000 annually plus generous bonuses which could add an additional 25% or more on top of their base salary.