Cruise Ship Crews – Overworked and Underpaid?
Written by: Kuki
Similar type of scheduling to this is the basic standard for anyone working in the ship’s “hotel departments”, which would include bartenders, bar servers, cooks, waiters and waitresses, cabin stewards, laundry staff, etc.
Entertainment departments, casino staff, shop staff, as well as officers do have much more liberal time off when in port, and their departments are closed.
As hard as these people work, and as long as the hours they are called on to work, none are forced to take these jobs. No on is enslaved, and made to work these long hours. They do so voluntarily, and we do have to keep that in mind.
Three years ago I began a process of sponsoring a care-giver from the Philippines to come to work as a live-in care-giver for my elderly mother. It took 18 months to get the necessary government approvals before she could come from the Philippines to accept the job. She gladly waited that long, for the process to complete, for the opportunity to accept the job.
Granted, she doesn’t have to work as many hours as cruise line employees, and she gets two days off every week. However, she is not highly paid, yet, like cruise line crew, every month when she gets her paycheck, she sends much needed money back to her family in the Philippines.
She is single, but there are many others like her and those working on ships, who are married and have children back in the Philippines, who they leave at home under the care of their husbands, wives or parents. I discussed with her the reasons why so many are willing to undertake such a difficult task, of leaving their families, spouses, and children in order to accept these demanding jobs.
Her answer, and I’m sure that of thousands of others, is simple; you work hard for the years when you are young which hopefully enable you to help ensure a better life for yourself later on.
This philosophy isn’t all that different from the “American way”; work hard and hope to achieve long term success. The difference is, the standards of that success are very different in many countries around the world. We are blessed with the opportunity to have success mean it gives us a higher standard of living than so many people around the globe. However, for the crew working on cruise ships, their hard work can reward them with an otherwise unobtainable standard of living for them and their families.
The people seeking these crew jobs on ships in fact, sometimes pay employment agencies in their home countries, up to $5000 to get their foot in the door, for the opportunity to get a job on a ship. Once they do get the job, most work very diligently to keep those jobs; many continue to do so for a decade or more.
While we can and should very much appreciate their hard work, which contributes to our enjoyment of our cruises, none of us should feel guilty about their circumstances. Without us, all the members of the crew on all the cruise lines wouldn’t likely have the opportunity to earn as much they do. Indeed they’d most likely have to work just as hard to earn less, and that’s even more true now in a struggling world economy.
As my father used to say when I was growing up (and likely yours too) – “hard work never hurt anyone”.
Those of us who cruise are fortunate to live in countries where our hard work can achieve a “higher standard of living”, but those in countries less fortunate, consider themselves fortunate as well to get the opportunity to improve their “financial life” compared to the standards in their home countries.
You can feel good rewarding the crew for their hard work, and their service to you. No doubt they will appreciate it very much. But, don’t for a minute think that they don’t want those jobs badly.
Their mind set is different because their circumstances are different. But so too are the circumstances of people in your own home communities. You can feel sad about the tough circumstances the crew and many other people find in all parts of the world, but don’t feel bad that your vacation dollars assist in supplying income to some of those people, which can even be higher than that “professionals” are earning in their native countries.
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Posted: March 29th, 2011 under Kuki.