Please do not misunderstand. I definitely do not feel sorry for those who work on ships. I have been employed on cruise ships for many years and wouldn't have it any other way.
They generally do very well for themselves. True, they do have to work very hard and long hours, but the compensation is not too bad. On the negative side they do miss out on seeing their families, and often barely know the children they are working so hard to support and give a better life.
Are they forced to take these jobs?
Yes and No.
They could stay unemployed in their home countries or take extremely low-paying jobs there. But then their families would not eat very much and they would miss out on many of the things that a cruise ship salary buys them. In that respect they are forced to take cruise line jobs. It is the only way they can provide properly for their families.
I do however reget the direction that cruise line companies have taken with regards to business plans and compensation for the crew.
When American Millionaire JP Morgan purchased the White Star Line in 1910, things began to go downhill. He decided he could save loads of money by paying the crew nearly nothing, and forcing the passengers to supplement their salaries with tips. That practice continued through to this day and will probably be with us forever. Unfortunately the quality of passenger, and the size of his wallet have gone down dramatically over the years.
Over the past 2 decades, cruise line companies have caved in to the American Middle Class, making cruising cheaper and cheaper. The only way the companies can afford to do this is by continually cutting the salaries, tips, and benefits to their employees.
In 1972, the average daily recommended tip on Royal Viking Cruise Line was $19.75 per passenger per day. Most passengers tipped far more than that. In those days, that was quite a bit of money.
Today, the worldwide average recommended (or forced) tip is $9.75. Less than half.
The cruise lines have effectively cut their employees salaries by 50% to enable the middle class to cruise. To add to the troubles, in recent years as many as 30% of passengers tipped nothing at the end of the cruise. They couldn't - or wouldn't afford it.
Is that your problem?? Yes it is.
Since good cruise line employees have had their salaries reduced so dramatically, many are now finding other jobs at home that pay the same or more than a cruise ship job. They are now staying home with their families (something they wanted to do anyway) and still are able to support them reasonably well. This puts the cruise line companies in a bind. They are forced to hire sub-standard service staff (at sub-standard wages) to take care of you on your discounted cruise. Then you complain that the service is poor and properly refuse to tip them, reduciing salaries even further.
Do you see where this is going?
The discount cruiser is driving down the quality and success of the cruise industry so he can have his "all-inclusive" $499 7-day holiday.
Who suffers in the end? You do.
The cruise line employees will be quite happy with their new jobs back home in the Philippines, I will continue receiving my very generous management salary, and you will still be complaining about poor service on your $499 "cruise of a lifetime".