Just as an aside note, I just submitted my Resume, Cover Letter, and Letter of Recommendation from my previous ship's chief mate into one of the major companies. I happen to have more than a few contacts within the industry so I know they still make more than good money, especially for someone just coming out of college. Also, it varies from ship to ship so far as perks go (housing, mess deck etc.) so you might only be seeing one company's aspect with the previous poster.
I'll let you know if anything happens. You still looking at the opportunities?