|On a Princess Cruise|
There are at least four officers on the bridge at all times. As well as using sophisticated electronic equipment, there are two helmsmen, stationed one on each side of the bridge, constantly taking visual bearings using binoculars.
The officers work on a rotation of four hours on, eight hours off, every day during their two or three month contracts. Then they go home for two or three months for a break before returning to sea.
The ship's watches are of four hours duration, starting at midnight. Often the busiest time is the 4 a.m. to 8 a.m. shift, the time a cruise ship usually comes into dock at a port of call.
Usually a ship's arrival and departure from a port is taken by a local pilot although the captain is still officially in command. There are only two places in the whole world where captains completely hand over command of the ships to local pilots - the Panama and Kiel Canals.
I like going to lectures on a cruise, finding out about what goes on behind the scenes while we passengers are lolling about in deck chairs!