Social status versus formal rank of medical and other officers--an informal survey among passengers and seafarers on cruise ships.Int Marit Health. 2004; 55(1-4):165-75.IM
Modern cruise ships have a rigid hierarchic structure, but status of the officers may have changed over time.
To get an impression of how cruise officers and crew (=staff) and experienced passengers perceive the status of various shipboard positions, particularly Doctor and Nurse, and compare with present ranks.
Passengers and staff during a World Cruise (Ship 1) and staff on a sister-ship (Ship 2) during a voyage without passengers were asked by questionnaire to rank shipboard jobs by assigning 0-4.5 stripes to each position according to perceived social status. Median values were reported.
29% of 109 passengers and 11% of 899 staff responded. Captain was assigned 4.5 stripes by both female and male passengers and staff, followed by Vice Captain (4 stripes, as now, by all). Chief Engineer (4 stripes) was downgraded by male passengers and female staff. Hotel Director (4 stripes) was rated as now by all but male passengers. Executive Housekeeper (2.5 stripes) was upgraded by all but male staff. Doctor (3 stripes) received 4 stripes from passengers and 3.5 from staff. Nurse (2 stripes) got 3 stripes from passengers and 2 stripes from staff. All upgraded Security Officer (2 stripes).
The participants seemed to accept the hierarchic rank structure aboard, with the captain alone on top. Marine officers, especially those considered responsible for safety, security and health, were ranked high by all, while passengers also tended to upgrade hotel officers with visible problem-solving positions. Passengers and staff agreed that the Doctor and the Security Officer deserve more stripes, while the Nurses were upgraded by passengers, but not by staff.