The Purser on the RRS James Cook is Phil. He is responsible for the stores, accommodation, catering, travel arrangements to and from the ship, finance and administration. His role is similar to a hotel services manager on land. Many of these responsibilities were once up to the captain, but recently the role of purser has been brought back onto the Royal Research Ships. Pursers are found on cruise ships, larger research vessels, British Antarctic Survey ships and also with ferry companies generally where there is a large staff on board to be looked after.
Phil has been working at sea for about 28 years now. He started with the merchant navy in Canada as an assistant purser when he was 16, and has been working with the Royal Research Ships for a couple of years now. He left school with O-levels (equivalent to GCSEs), and completed the required training programme. In addition to this training, Phil has gained qualifications in book keeping and food hygiene. These are not essential, but allow him to carry out his job with greater ease and confidence.
The role of the ships purser is varied, and uses a wide range of skills and abilities to ensure the welfare of those on board the ship. If you are interested in this kind of work, you could get experience working at the front desk of a hotel, contact the merchant navy or some of the larger cruise and ferry companies as many offer training programmes and further information.