How are Cruise Line Crew Members Paid? More Than Just a Paycheck?

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Cruise jobs offer a great deal of benefits for those who choose them as a career. The economical benefits are amongst the most enticing ones, due to currency exchange advantages (mentioned in a previous post), and the ease of sending money home. But how do crew members actually receive their hard-earned money?

Salary – In the past, it actually FELT like the past. Every single crew member would have to line up and get their money, coins included, in a plain white envelope, count it, sign for it and go on with their day. One word for you: Dreadful. There was very little you could do with that money other than to place it in your safe and haul it home at the end of the contract, which meant you’d have to, in many cases, declare it at each airport you went through, as if carrying it wasn’t stressful enough.

Then, a new alternative came about, which was direct deposit into the crew member’s bank account. As convenient as it sounded, it didn’t work for most crew due to banking issues in their own countries, and, I should imagine, currency exchange.

And then, celestial music played, and our proper salary “bank” accounts were created. The reason for the quotes is that we are not able to add funds to this account in any way other than through our payroll from our salary. Other than that, it’s pretty much like any other bank account, with a debit card assigned to it and the ability to transfer funds to bank accounts around the world, simple card-to-card transfers, and withdrawals from any ATM.

a machine with a conveyor belt

Stock purchase – Up until recently on the line I work for, employees were able to set aside up to 10% of their salary to the company’s stock, however this is no longer an option. The funds are still available and hoping they will grow, though. Other lines may offer this as an option for crew.

Salary Currency – In most cases, salaries are in the currency of the country the company operates from. There may be gray areas when it comes to cruise lines native to a certain country, but owned by a bigger corporation based somewhere else, as is the case of Costa, Italian, owned by Carnival, US-based. Your nationality in cases like this may have more to do with how you will get paid (in Euros for EU nationals and in US Dollars otherwise).

Seniority – In most of the positions, the longer you work onboard, the more your salary increases. The catch is, if you change departments, or leave the company temporarily, you may lose your seniority increase.

Gratuities – Some crew members receive a share of the mandatory gratuities that the cruise line charges, but others are often compensated for their service directly by passengers who wish to show special appreciation for certain crew members who have been of assistance to them. These gratuities are typically paid in cash so the crew member is then free to either spend it on things needed for themselves onboard or send it home to family to be used for whatever is needed there. ThatGuy (onboard)

a rainbow over a body of water

 

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Advertiser Disclosure: Frequent Floaters has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. FrequentFloaters and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Some or all of the card offers that appear on the website are from advertisers. Compensation may impact how and where card products appear on the site. This site does not include all card companies or all available card offers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed, or approved by any of these entities. All information related to any credit cards above was collected independently by Frequent Floaters and was neither provided nor reviewed by the respective card issuers

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That Guy
That Guyhttp://www.FrequentFloaters.com
That Guy works for one of the major cruise lines and has for most of his career. He shares his unique insights from an insiders perspective and gives you a view few cruisers ever see or even think about.

4 COMMENTS

  1. I would really like to know how much the employees – room stewards, waiters, bartenders, those who get daily gratuity money – receive. Also, what percentage of the daily gratuity fees actually go to the employees. Does the cruise line take a percentage? Is there a employee bonus system in place for when a ship is full? Just curious.

    • @John – I can jump in and help on that question. It depends on the cruise line but a general rule is the gratuities go to main dining folks and your room steward. If you get drinks they are tipped separately either drink by drink or in the package. The cruise lines state the full amount we pay goes to them but we can not know for sure. Also keep in mind you can with most cruise lines as for the “mandatory” tips back and then tip those who take care of you with cash but this depends on the line. With NCL, for example, you have to pre-pay to get them back. If you wait till it bills last day you can not get them back. But with Carnival it is the exact opposite of NCL.

      • Rene, thank you for the reply. We, for the most part, always travel NCL but have never pre-paid our gratuities but will in the future.

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