We have been told that Carnival pays the waiters, bus people, cabin stewards, etc. $70.00 PER MONTH !!!!! The rest of their income is totally what they get in tips. Please keep this in mind, because most of them send their hard earned $$$ home to their families. (If I'm incorrect please let me know, but this is what I have been told and my apologies if I've been misinformed.)
No, your about right ! A very major part of there income, comes strickly from the tips of each cruise. Thats why when we have a Carnival (or anyother cruiseline employee) that goes above and beyond there call of duty , the wife and I tip them directly. That goes from cabin steward's to cabin stewardess's to the bar tenders.
I think this may be a little exaggerated, but it is true that most of the crew members you mentioned work mostly for tips. I have a couple of friends who are working on cruise ships (though not Carnival), and they make very little a month in salary. This is why none of the cruise ships are registered in the United States (no minimum wage laws to contend with).
It's not exaggerated at all. When we cruised in January, a conversation with a ship employee confirmed $50 per month (for that particular employee).
Carnival Elation March 11
Carnival Imagination Sept 07
Carniival Sensation Dec 06
RCI Sovereign of the Seas Sept 06
Carnival Miracle Sept 05
Carnival Glory Sept 04
Carnival Fantasy Jan 04
We know someone who lives in La Romana (Dom. Rep.) he is now on a Costa cruise ship working as a steward. He signed a 5 month contract for $1,700. He got an extra $200 because this is his third contract.
From a business point of view this makes sense. The cruiselines are letting the passengers subsidize the employees wages. Do the math: If a steward has 50 rooms (100 guests) x $3.00 per day adds up to a lot of money. Based on Carnical's average $10 per person per day. (Excluding extra tips)
This adds up to a lot more money than many of these people could ever earn.
Wow at $3/day per person at an estimated 100 guests that is an estimated $300/day!
Yes, it is a lot of hard work but not too shabby earnings if you're up for it.
I know that much of the staff do send money home to their families - good for them - they also sign on to the ships knowing that the wages are low but if they provide good or even satisfactory service they may average more in a day than most of us, when they include their tips.
Please also keep in mind that they do get their accommodations (limited as they are), all meals and uniforms, some medical coverage, etc. - this needs to be considered when calculating their base salary.
Actually the numbers are a lot lower than that. Room stewards have anywhere from 6 to 10 cabins at the most and those that have the larger amounts often 'hire' others to assist them and share tips. The waiters usually serve two tables or three depending on the size and usually no more than 16 people total. You might also understand that the crew also have their own waiters who they tip for services!
Jim, from my discussions with various room/dining staff over the years I think your numbers are pretty accurate...bottom line, it's a heck of alot of hard work for these folks and I don't think you would be surprise at the number of guest that 'stiffed" the crew for a number of reasons (ran out of money, thought it was included in the price of the cruise, etc). You would hope that it would be balanced out by guest that 'over tip"
So I am a fan of paying the recommended tips up front and then tipping some more for above and beyond. Having been a waiter in my young life, I know very often things will go wrong from the kitchen which you have no control over but because you are the front line person you catch the blame and maybe the loss of a tip
One of the reasons that the crew actually likes the idea of these pre-paid and/or auto tipping is that there is less stiffing. During the "old-fashioned" method the stiff rate was 18-25%. It has dropped to about 10-15% now
I just got off the Elation 2 days ago. My room steward had 16 rooms with a helper. We had 2 rooms with 2 people each in them. I split the tip between the room steward and her helper cause they both equally did the "normal things" for us. We did not make any request except for a wine opener and we gave the helper $5 just for that. If you have 16 rooms with an average of 2 people (23.50 each per week) per room that is $752 a week. Course some rooms had more people. If she kept $500 and gave her helper $250 that is still pretty good money for both.
Our waiter had 2 large tables. Ours was 11 and the other was 8 - 9. He and his helper did fine. But because we were a big table we were always last to leave cause takes longer to serve all of us.
I am one of those who tip according to what kind of service I receive not just what is recommended. I take it off my sign and sail card and personally tip at the end of the week.
This is why there are so many non-Americans working on the ships. If you look at the average annual income for, say, Haiti or many of the Serbian countries, the money is quite good. In addition, the exchange rate on the dollar is favorable for most countries, which is an added benefit.
When you figure the amount of hours that the people work on a ship, it really doesn't matter how many rooms or tables they have. By talking to a bunch of them, they basically all double up. They just don't work in the main dining room, they may have to work on the Lido deck also, or they work the breakfast or lunch room. There, they make no additional tips. If the cruise line had to employ enough people to give us the service that they do, and only have them work an 8 hour day, there would be no room on the ship for the passengers. If you watch, everyone on the ship works constantly. The dancers are selling bingo tickets and getting groups together for the shore excursions. The casino help is there from the time the casino opens till close. If the cruise line increased their pay, the cost would just be passed on to the passengers, and if they increased their pay, the help could possibly become complacent in their jobs. By working for tips, they have to maintain their high level of energy, and strive to entertain us, otherwise the tips would be less.
I have worked in the service industry for 27 years, I would not want their job for anything.
The Holiday has 52 nations represented. The cruise industry is very much a Cast system where the more developed countries provide the captain, staff and management and the rest of the staff (service people) come from the less developed countries.
and you are right that since the ships are NOT registered in the U.S. there is NO minimum wage.
The PBS special that featured Carnival said the wages for service staff is $1.50 A DAY OR $45 PER MONTH and yes, tips are their main source of income.
So, be generous the same as you would at home 15% minimum and up to 25% for outstanding service.
Another point I forgot to make.
We talked to a couple of people on the Holiday and they are housed 2 to a room with a shower for every 9 CABINS or 18 people! Granted this is an older ship and the newer ones may have showers in each staff cabin.
Funny, the staff I talked to each said they loved working the smaller Holiday; less pressure, same money, same job.
We were very well pleased with casino host, dealers, cocktail waitresses, dining staff and steward. Couldn't have been nicer or more effiecient to a person.
Cruise lines can get away with paying most of their employees low wages and working long hours because most cruise ships are registered in other countries so they do not have to obey the labor laws we have in the United States and they do not pay taxes on the ships but do pay a fee when entering a US port.
this thread underscore's the point about POA and it's American crew and various charges associated with the labor laws. It will be very interesting if it works and if it does, will more cruise lines follow their lead ?
In rea;ity, some of the hard service workers that come from what we call 3rd world countries, where the average worker makes less in a month than what the service worker can EARN in tips in a week, the competition is so great to get a job as a cabin attendent or waiter, that they actually pay their whole miniscule salary to the person who hired them (kickback!) and rely entirely on the tips for compensation for their long hours (7 days a week!) and hard work.