Cruise Ship Crew Wages
How much pay do crew make? All the crew who spoke say that they are not allowed to discuss how much they are paid. But, one says anyway, it is less than any minimum wage. Gallery steward and hotel stewards make $550 a month. They work 12 to 14 hour days, seven days a week.
On a 30 day month that is only $1.52 an hour for 12 hour days. Out of that, they have to pay other crew members for favors in order to perform their job. This means the real pay is less than a buck an hour for the crew members who work the hardest. They rely on tips heavily but say that on those cheap Carnival cruises tips are poor.
This too is not surprising as waiters and waitress across America have been screaming about the huge increase in non-tippers. So much so, some restaurants have resorted to adding the tip onto the meal ticket, automatically.
One crew member says he works 11 to 16 hour days, seven days a week for only $600 per month or on average about $1.42 an hour.
Hardest hit though is the hair dressers and spa technicians or as they are called the 'steiners'. One says she is paid only $49 a week and normally would make her money on tips. However she was on a "no-tipping"ship. Steiners are generally suppose to make a commission on the salon products they sell.
One requirement for recruiting them is a strong sales ability. The strong sales ablility is prevalent in many of the guest interaction roles. Crew are told to push products, and push them hard.
One recruiting firm, Steiner TransOcean, Steiner Training Ltd, has confirmed this low pay for the steiners, and confirms that those crew work 12 hour days with very little time off during those 12 hours. But, they claim the steiners only work 66 hours a week for $50 or $0.75 an hour and get commissions. When that is all you make unless you shove products down the passenger's throats, there is clear motivation to sell hard.
Steiner, headquartered in Nassau, Bahamas provides dirt cheap labor of about 2,000 crew members on average for 129 cruise ships including those owned by Carnival Cruise Lines, Celebrity Cruises, Crystal Cruises, Cunard/Seabourn Cruise Lines, Holland America Line,, Norwegian Cruise Lines, Princess Cruises and Royal Caribbean Cruises.
While those Steiner sends to the cruise ships make less than a buck an hour, Steiner Leisure's revenues for the third quarter ending September 30, 2007 rose 11.2% to $140.4 million from $126.3 million during the comparable quarter in 2006. Income from continuing operations for the third quarter was $11.4 million in both 2007 and 2006. Steiner not only provides cheap labor to cruise ship, they also send employees to land based businesses such as casinos and hotels. There is no information as to whether those workers are paid more or less than the cruise ship based workers.
The Unlimited Fountain Card
This complaint intermixes with the complaint of the endless soda pop drink card "fountain card" for kids and adults. Crew members say that many passengers feel they should have an endless amount of soda pop and as a result are constantly demanding their free pops so they can get their money's worth. This slows down the selling of alcohol and places additional pressure on the crew to hustle those paid drinks. The worst down side is not being tipped for all those free beverages they are serving . As a result, in the diningrooms they try to avoid the tables with families and children because they consume the most amount of the non-quota drinks.
Ship jumpers are ship crews from other countries, who leave the ship while in a foreign port, never come back, disappearing into the population of some large American city. The Customs and Border Protection (CBP) confirms this saying "thousands" of crew members jump ship each year, though some are from cargo ships. The CBP doesn't seem to keep any real statistics on this, as odd as that is. They have no idea of any exact numbers of jumpers from any sector of the maritime industry.