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Cruise ship workers reveal how much money they really make

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Highlights:

"There's a big gap between the highest and lowest-paid cruise ship workers.

Business Insider spoke with 35 current and former cruise ship employees, who reported monthly earnings between $500 and $10,000. Some 40% of their reported monthly earnings were equal to or less than $2,000."

"Many cruise ship workers, particularly those who work lower-paid positions, come from regions with lower median incomes than the United States, like the Caribbean, South America, Eastern Europe, and parts of Asia. A former bartender for Royal Caribbean who made between $1,600 and $1,800 per month said the pay was better than what he had previously made in Chile, his home country."

"In addition to their salary, crewmembers typically receive free medical care, room and board, meals, and many other benefits that are often unavailable in their home countries," said a representative for the Cruise Lines International Association, a trade association for the cruise industry. "Crew members are very satisfied with their jobs and the opportunities for career advancement, which explains why employee retention rates in the cruise industry are upwards of 80%."

"The 35 current and former cruise ship employees who spoke with Business Insider had average monthly earnings of around $3,233 and median monthly earnings of around $2,600. The three largest cruise companies — Carnival Corporation, Royal Caribbean Cruises, and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings — reported in regulatory filings the following median annual earnings for 2018:

  • Carnival Corporation: $16,622
  • Royal Caribbean Cruises: $19,396
  • Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings: $20,101

The annual median income in the United States was $31,099 in 2016 (the latest year for which data is available), according to the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. That would translate to median monthly earnings of around $2,592."

Source:

https://www.businessinsider.com/cruise-ship-workers-reveal-how-much-money-they-make-2019-5

Also keep in mind that rate of income tax isn't the same in many countries, or applies at all for ExPats who don't work in their country of citizenship.  

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Not bad pay at all...especially compared to what they would make back home I am sure..

 

Min wage here for doing a serving/cooking/cleaning jobs is about $8/hr USD.....so about $1200/mth..with NO perks or benefits usually....

 

When you factor in the exchange rate..they make as much as someone with a university degree in Canada working at a national Bank or Insurance Company...

 

Prob more when you factor in lower taxes and full benefits....

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It's important to note how the cruise lines report median annual earnings in their regulatory filings, rather than average earnings. Since the median is simply the mid-point in the range from lowest to highest, regardless of distribution, it allows them to report a number that is higher than if they gave the average earnings, and thus looks better ("We're taking great care of our employees! Look at those salaries!"). Average earnings will accurately reflect the distribution of the salaries; assuming most of the employees are at the lower end of the range (not an unreasonable expectation, as the crew handling housekeeping, dining services, maintenance, etc. will make up much more of the total crew complement compared to the staff and officers), the average will be lower.

Only question is -- how much lower? Could just be by a couple hundred dollars, or it could be by a few thousand. No way to know since we have no real way to know the actual ratio of low-paid crew to mid-salary staff to high-wage officers. And it's possible that they did report average as well as median; Business Insider could have chosen to omit the average number to get the slant they're looking for with this rather light / minimal story. I'm inclined to doubt it since they were reporting averages for most of the story.

If I was going to guess, given the total crew complement is somewhere around 1,500 on the average large ship that carries about 4,500 passengers, I'd guess it was in the neighborhood of 100 15 : 1 crew : staff : officers. I'm assuming there's only about 15 officer level staff on any ship, so let me know if that's way off base. But if it's about right, reporting the average would skew the annual wage way down.

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23 minutes ago, JLMoran said:

It's important to note how the cruise lines report median annual earnings in their regulatory filings, rather than average earnings. Since the median is simply the mid-point in the range from lowest to highest, regardless of distribution, it allows them to report a number that is higher than if they gave the average earnings, and thus looks better ("We're taking great care of our employees! Look at those salaries!"). Average earnings will accurately reflect the distribution of the salaries; assuming most of the employees are at the lower end of the range (not an unreasonable expectation, as the crew handling housekeeping, dining services, maintenance, etc. will make up much more of the total crew complement compared to the staff and officers), the average will be lower.

Only question is -- how much lower? Could just be by a couple hundred dollars, or it could be by a few thousand. No way to know since we have no real way to know the actual ratio of low-paid crew to mid-salary staff to high-wage officers. And it's possible that they did report average as well as median; Business Insider could have chosen to omit the average number to get the slant they're looking for with this rather light / minimal story. I'm inclined to doubt it since they were reporting averages for most of the story.

If I was going to guess, given the total crew complement is somewhere around 1,500 on the average large ship that carries about 4,500 passengers, I'd guess it was in the neighborhood of 100 15 : 1 crew : staff : officers. I'm assuming there's only about 15 officer level staff on any ship, so let me know if that's way off base. But if it's about right, reporting the average would skew the annual wage way down.

The numbers are from SEC filings and earning reports that are poured over by investment analysts.

Mean typically isn't used in reference to salaries.  

Why is median better than mean for a typical salary

Mean (average) would appear to be higher when salaries such as the Captain's is included.  However the Captain's salary isn't representative of 98% of all other salaries on board.  By including this outlier and using mean salaries it would appear everyone makes more which is the last thing any publicly traded company desires to do in earning reports filed with the SEC. 

 

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12 minutes ago, twangster said:

Mean (average) would appear to be higher when salaries such as the Captain's is included.  However the Captain's salary isn't representative of 98% of all other salaries on board.  By including this outlier and using mean salaries it would appear everyone makes more which is the last thing any publicly traded company desires to do in earning reports filed with the SEC. 

Interesting, I would have thought that by having the majority of salaries at the low end of the bell curve that it would pull the number downward, even with the Captain's and other senior officers' salaries included. Didn't realize the Captain's / seniors' pay was at the same outlier level as your typical CEO and Executive Board is vs. the grunts in the mail room. 😉

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37 minutes ago, MikeK said:

  Considering the amount of hours they put in a week the hourly wage would be a joke.

By the standards of developed nations, absolutely.  By the standards of many other nations, not as clear cut.

I've been to Chile a couple of times.  What people do there to survive would shock most Americans.  To them that is their way of life.  There are some 9 to 5 jobs, but the majority of the population isn't employed 9 to 5 or they find additional sources of income to survive working outside of 9 to 5 every day in multiple forms of ways to earn money to support their family.  Some can't even be called jobs.  They do what it takes to provide for their families.

Many here don't appreciate how good we have it.

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As a retired compensation analyst who has observed crew on a number of cruises, I'd say they aren't overpaid--they deserve the gratuities they receive.  Pay is seldom "fair" because we all have different underlying assumptions of fairness, but pay can and should be consistent with governing laws and the employer's policies.  So compensation analysts look at consistency/reliability because pay validity is an elusive target.  I think the general demeanor of crew on RCI ships tells us a lot, as does the cited retention rate.  It appears to me that RCI invests in human capital, and I've always enjoyed interacting with the staff. 

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Guest toodle68

I have always wondered about house keeping who may get direct cash tips from several rooms. Always wondered how much that adds up to on a cruise.

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6 minutes ago, twangster said:

News agencies reporting a outright ban on cruise and air travel to Cuba unless booked by June 5, 2019.

Book it now!

If true...not surprised...just a matter of time I had said on another post here a few mths ago or so.

 

I was very surprised it lasted as long as it did to be honest.

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On 6/3/2019 at 7:51 PM, twangster said:

Highlights:

"There's a big gap between the highest and lowest-paid cruise ship workers.

Business Insider spoke with 35 current and former cruise ship employees, who reported monthly earnings between $500 and $10,000. Some 40% of their reported monthly earnings were equal to or less than $2,000."

"Many cruise ship workers, particularly those who work lower-paid positions, come from regions with lower median incomes than the United States, like the Caribbean, South America, Eastern Europe, and parts of Asia. A former bartender for Royal Caribbean who made between $1,600 and $1,800 per month said the pay was better than what he had previously made in Chile, his home country."

"In addition to their salary, crewmembers typically receive free medical care, room and board, meals, and many other benefits that are often unavailable in their home countries," said a representative for the Cruise Lines International Association, a trade association for the cruise industry. "Crew members are very satisfied with their jobs and the opportunities for career advancement, which explains why employee retention rates in the cruise industry are upwards of 80%."

"The 35 current and former cruise ship employees who spoke with Business Insider had average monthly earnings of around $3,233 and median monthly earnings of around $2,600. The three largest cruise companies — Carnival Corporation, Royal Caribbean Cruises, and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings — reported in regulatory filings the following median annual earnings for 2018:

  • Carnival Corporation: $16,622
  • Royal Caribbean Cruises: $19,396
  • Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings: $20,101

The annual median income in the United States was $31,099 in 2016 (the latest year for which data is available), according to the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. That would translate to median monthly earnings of around $2,592."

Source:

https://www.businessinsider.com/cruise-ship-workers-reveal-how-much-money-they-make-2019-5

Also keep in mind that rate of income tax isn't the same in many countries, or applies at all for ExPats who don't work in their country of citizenship.  

I agree with everyone that for the most part, cruise employees are painfully under paid for the work they do. The flipside to that is many of them have worked for many years in the business, so even with the wages, there must be many reasons they stay. I think most people would say they are underpaid for what they do. I don't think I have ever meet anyone who said they were overpaid.

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On ‎6‎/‎4‎/‎2019 at 8:49 AM, JLMoran said:

It's important to note how the cruise lines report median annual earnings in their regulatory filings, rather than average earnings. Since the median is simply the mid-point in the range from lowest to highest, regardless of distribution, it allows them to report a number that is higher than if they gave the average earnings, and thus looks better ("We're taking great care of our employees! Look at those salaries!"). Average earnings will accurately reflect the distribution of the salaries; assuming most of the employees are at the lower end of the range (not an unreasonable expectation, as the crew handling housekeeping, dining services, maintenance, etc. will make up much more of the total crew complement compared to the staff and officers), the average will be lower.

Only question is -- how much lower? Could just be by a couple hundred dollars, or it could be by a few thousand. No way to know since we have no real way to know the actual ratio of low-paid crew to mid-salary staff to high-wage officers. And it's possible that they did report average as well as median; Business Insider could have chosen to omit the average number to get the slant they're looking for with this rather light / minimal story. I'm inclined to doubt it since they were reporting averages for most of the story.

If I was going to guess, given the total crew complement is somewhere around 1,500 on the average large ship that carries about 4,500 passengers, I'd guess it was in the neighborhood of 100 15 : 1 crew : staff : officers. I'm assuming there's only about 15 officer level staff on any ship, so let me know if that's way off base. But if it's about right, reporting the average would skew the annual wage way down.

The median is that salary at which half of the people make more and half of the people make less. This is much more representative of the distribution than an average (mean) would be.

Example using some very round figures - consider a total of 100 workers. 25 make $1000, 40 make $1500, 10 make $2000, 10 make $2500, 10 make $3000, 4 senior staff make $5000, Captain makes $10000. The total pay is $190,000 making the average (mean) $1900. The median in this example is $1500, more accurately reflecting what "most" make. 

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3 minutes ago, FManke said:

I agree with everyone that for the most part, cruise employees are painfully under paid for the work they do. The flipside to that is many of them have worked for many years in the business, so even with the wages, there must be many reasons they stay. I think most people would say they are underpaid for what they do. I don't think I have ever meet anyone who said they were overpaid.

It's about relativity.

They are underpaid by American standards which is exactly why you don't see Americans working as cabin attendants, wait staff, galley cooks, bartenders or similar positions.  Where do you see Americans?  Entertainment positions, officer positions and similar that are above the median figures listed above.

In many countries around the world a good paying carer job is very elusive.  In these countries that tend to be source countries for the majority of ship crew, a job that pays $19,000 per year is hard to find.  For them compared to their home country that is not underpaid especially for someone with little or no post-secondary education.  These countries have no or few labor laws.  Good, consistent work is out of reach for the bulk of the population.  Good health care can be out of reach.  The opportunity to work hard and earn advancement into a better position with an increase in compensation is elusive in their home country.  That is why many stay in this line of work.  It can take them months, even years for the immigration paperwork to come through after applying.  When that letter comes that says they've been accepted they are ecstatic in many cases because there is no work available in their home countries.

When they accept a position on a ship, they are not "coming to America".  They do not receive a work VISA that allows to them to work in America.  Nor are they subject to US taxation.

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1 minute ago, HeWhoWaits said:

The median is that salary at which half of the people make more and half of the people make less. This is much more representative of the distribution than an average (mean) would be.

Example using some very round figures - consider a total of 100 workers. 25 make $1000, 40 make $1500, 10 make $2000, 10 make $2500, 10 make $3000, 4 senior staff make $5000, Captain makes $10000. The total pay is $190,000 making the average (mean) $1900. The median in this example is $1500, more accurately reflecting what "most" make. 

Yup, the link @twangster provided after I made my original comment pointed out my error.

But isn't the median of the example you gave above $2,250, rather than $1,500? I freely admit I've always been horrible at statistics and routinely mess up where the median point is, but $1,500 doesn't strike me as the right number there given the six brackets you listed. $2,250 also would line up with how the example of median in Twangster's link above was determined (assuming I read it correctly).

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2 minutes ago, twangster said:

It's about relativity.

They are underpaid by American standards which is exactly why you don't see Americans working as cabin attendants, wait staff, galley cooks, bartenders or similar positions.  Where do you see Americans?  Entertainment positions, officer positions and similar that are above the median figures listed above.

In many countries around the world a good paying carer job is very elusive.  In these countries that tend to be source countries for the majority of ship crew, a job that pays $19,000 per year is hard to find.  For them compared to their home country that is not underpaid especially for someone with little or no post-secondary education.  These countries have no or few labor laws.  Good, consistent work is out of reach for the bulk of the population.  Good health care can be out of reach.  The opportunity to work hard and earn advancement into a better position with an increase in compensation is elusive in their home country.  That is why many stay in this line of work.  It can take them months, even years for the immigration paperwork to come through after applying.  When that letter comes that says they've been accepted they are ecstatic in many cases because there is no work available in their home countries.

When they accept a position on a ship, they are not "coming to America".  They do not receive a work VISA that allows to them to work in America.  Nor are they subject to US taxation.

Agreed! As you mentioned above, most of us don't realize how good we have it. Politics and problems aside, there is a reason why a ton of people are trying to get to the US.

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1 minute ago, JLMoran said:

Yup, the link @twangster provided after I made my original comment pointed out my error.

But isn't the median of the example you gave above $2,250, rather than $1,500? I freely admit I've always been horrible at statistics and routinely mess up where the median point is, but $1,500 doesn't strike me as the right number there given the six brackets you listed. $2,250 also would line up with how the example of median in Twangster's link above was determined (assuming I read it correctly).

25 people at $1000 and the first 25 people at $1500 account for 50 at or below the median of $1500. The rest of the people are at or above the median. It's not about the brackets, it's about the actual individuals. $2250 would have been the median if and only if every group had the same number of people, which is not the case in my example (or real life).

I didn't check the link @twangster provided, but I do know that the statistical definitions haven't changed since before I first learned them (many more years ago than I care to admit).

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3 minutes ago, HeWhoWaits said:

25 people at $1000 and the first 25 people at $1500 account for 50 at or below the median of $1500. The rest of the people are at or above the median. It's not about the brackets, it's about the actual individuals. $2250 would have been the median if and only if every group had the same number of people, which is not the case in my example (or real life).

I didn't check the link @twangster provided, but I do know that the statistical definitions haven't changed since before I first learned them (many more years ago than I care to admit).

OK, I just re-read the example in the link and see where I got messed up. Their example just has one person in each bracket, so naturally the median is the actual mid-point of the brackets in that example. Would have been good if they'd given an example closer to yours so that the way median works was a bit clearer.

This is why I'm glad I don't do programming for statistical analysis kinds of systems and just focus on web applications! I can't imagine how many QA tests I'd fail writing statistical analysis code! 😅

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16 minutes ago, HeWhoWaits said:

The median is that salary at which half of the people make more and half of the people make less. This is much more representative of the distribution than an average (mean) would be.

Example using some very round figures - consider a total of 100 workers. 25 make $1000, 40 make $1500, 10 make $2000, 10 make $2500, 10 make $3000, 4 senior staff make $5000, Captain makes $10000. The total pay is $190,000 making the average (mean) $1900. The median in this example is $1500, more accurately reflecting what "most" make. 

 

14 minutes ago, twangster said:

It's about relativity.

They are underpaid by American standards which is exactly why you don't see Americans working as cabin attendants, wait staff, galley cooks, bartenders or similar positions.  Where do you see Americans?  Entertainment positions, officer positions and similar that are above the median figures listed above.

In many countries around the world a good paying carer job is very elusive.  In these countries that tend to be source countries for the majority of ship crew, a job that pays $19,000 per year is hard to find.  For them compared to their home country that is not underpaid especially for someone with little or no post-secondary education.  These countries have no or few labor laws.  Good, consistent work is out of reach for the bulk of the population.  Good health care can be out of reach.  The opportunity to work hard and earn advancement into a better position with an increase in compensation is elusive in their home country.  That is why many stay in this line of work.  It can take them months, even years for the immigration paperwork to come through after applying.  When that letter comes that says they've been accepted they are ecstatic in many cases because there is no work available in their home countries.

When they accept a position on a ship, they are not "coming to America".  They do not receive a work VISA that allows to them to work in America.  Nor are they subject to US taxation.

 

10 minutes ago, JLMoran said:

Yup, the link @twangster provided after I made my original comment pointed out my error.

But isn't the median of the example you gave above $2,250, rather than $1,500? I freely admit I've always been horrible at statistics and routinely mess up where the median point is, but $1,500 doesn't strike me as the right number there given the six brackets you listed. $2,250 also would line up with how the example of median in Twangster's link above was determined (assuming I read it correctly).

 

4 minutes ago, HeWhoWaits said:

25 people at $1000 and the first 25 people at $1500 account for 50 at or below the median of $1500. The rest of the people are at or above the median. It's not about the brackets, it's about the actual individuals. $2250 would have been the median if and only if every group had the same number of people, which is not the case in my example (or real life).

I didn't check the link @twangster provided, but I do know that the statistical definitions haven't changed since before I first learned them (many more years ago than I care to admit).

@HeWhoWaits, @JLMoran@twangster,

I think you guys are on the wrong blog? I think you want the statistics blog. 🤣🤣🤣

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On ‎2019‎/‎06‎/‎05 at 8:15 AM, twangster said:

It's about relativity.

They are underpaid by American standards which is exactly why you don't see Americans working as cabin attendants, wait staff, galley cooks, bartenders or similar positions.  Where do you see Americans?  Entertainment positions, officer positions and similar that are above the median figures listed above.

In many countries around the world a good paying carer job is very elusive.  In these countries that tend to be source countries for the majority of ship crew, a job that pays $19,000 per year is hard to find.  For them compared to their home country that is not underpaid especially for someone with little or no post-secondary education.  These countries have no or few labor laws.  Good, consistent work is out of reach for the bulk of the population.  Good health care can be out of reach.  The opportunity to work hard and earn advancement into a better position with an increase in compensation is elusive in their home country.  That is why many stay in this line of work.  It can take them months, even years for the immigration paperwork to come through after applying.  When that letter comes that says they've been accepted they are ecstatic in many cases because there is no work available in their home countries.

When they accept a position on a ship, they are not "coming to America".  They do not receive a work VISA that allows to them to work in America.  Nor are they subject to US taxation.

Also important to note is that their 'living expenses' are all covered as well for time on board. If you factor in the cost of rent, utilities, and food this rate of pay becomes much higher.

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The other thing not mentioned is that when they are at sea, I assume that their accommodation and meals are also covered. While Accomodation is a moot point (as they will have a home base to go back to) not paying for meals when at sea would amortize their earnings a little.

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