Ship Pursers: Then & Now

There are many job roles in a ship and one role is that of a purser. We will now discuss in detail what the role of a purser actually is and what are his or her job responsibilities.

Job Profile Of A Purser

One of the main roles of a purser is mainly to handle money in a ship. They also handle stores and supply in a ship. The role is definitely a licensed one and the job is mainly an administrative one. The cook and the stewards report to the purser. The purser in turn reports to the captain of the ship.

How The Concept Started?

The concept basically started in the Royal Navy where it was a ranked post from the fourteenth century till about the year 1852. Initially pursers were not paid a salary but would get a share of the profits.

Ship Purser

Ship Purser

They would act as the administrators of the ship. They would also supervise the maintenance and the repair of the ships. They were responsible for all the supplies that include candles, food, drinks, clothes, and anything that was required in a ship.

The pursers would charge some commission from the supplier and they sell the same to the crew with a good mark-up. This was the profit that they made. Due to this the purser was not looked at well upon by the crew members.

Some pursers were also punished for wrong dealings. Considering all these negative factors, the role of the purser was abolished. They existed during the era of war ships and slowly the concept was removed as the ship authorities started to provide all these means to the crew.

The Cruise Liners

As time moved on the passenger ships started and along with that the concept of pursers has again started in modern passenger ships that sail today. The basic role remains more or less similar though there are a few difference.

The pursers are salaried and they are hired by the shipping company. They no longer trade the supplies on board. All they do is an administrative role.

They control the supplies in a ship and ensure that there is proper utilization of the recourse’s. Any money related issue is also handled by them. If the passenger ship is huge and there are many passengers in it there can even be more than one purser.

The purser also looks into currency exchange. In modern ships the passenger has to pay for many services like food, laundry, etc. The passenger ships are like a luxury hotel in the sea and for the guests the life on a ship is like staying in a hotel on land. The guests do an initial payment. However, during their stay they may like to enjoy a service like a gym, a body massage, etc. which was perhaps not paid for earlier.

The guests pay the money which is collected by the purser and account for the same. If the guest is a foreigner and don’t have the currency then currency exchange is done by the purser. Any money related issue of the passengers or of the crew is handled by the purser alone. The pursers get paid well for the job that they are doing on a ship. They are also promoted for the contributions they have made.

Needless to say they also get the benefit of travelling all across the world and gaining good experience. If you like to manage finance then purser can be a good career opportunity for you.

The Flight Purser

Interestingly even in airlines today the chief flight attendant is called the purser. The role of the attendant also involves looking into the safety matters apart from the other roles that we have mentioned. However, when we say purser today the term is more common with the modern passenger ships.

We hope you have got a good idea now about who a purser is and what exactly they do on a passenger ship. The role is a vital one and the administrative operation of the ship depends a lot on the purser.

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