How Much Do Cruise Ship Workers Make?

A lot of people want to work on a cruise ship. When you think about it, it is indeed a dream come true for many people. It’s like living and working in a 5-star hotel. You get to experience waking up to a different city every day and meeting a lot of interesting people along the way.

Have you ever wondered how much cruise ship workers make? Have you ever yearned to work on one? Let’s take a look at the figures. 

The average cruise ship worker will make about $1,200 to $1,500 a month as basic pay. A lot of cruise ship workers will receive tips and gratuities on top of their basic pay as well. Also, there are plenty of perks and benefits given to cruise ship workers, and a lot of these extras will help lessen their expenses.

Read on to learn more about how much cruise ship workers make, as well as the perks, benefits, and expenses of working on a cruise ship.

How Much Do Cruise Ship Workers Make?

Salary is a huge factor for people who work on cruise ships. While working on a cruise ship feels wonderful for certain people, some may feel the opposite because they have to be away from their families for extended months. But is it worth it? Why do so many people look for employment on cruise ships? Exactly how much do cruise ship workers make?

What you earn on a cruise ship depends on your position. Some factors also come into play in dictating how much you make. These factors include the cruise liner, the size of the ship, the type of the ship, clientele, tips earned, whether you are salary or commission-based, and of course, your job experience. 

Most positions are on an hourly rate basis, and jobs on a cruise ship pay from $1,200 to $1,500 a month. However, many positions pay up to $2,500 a month, which is like $13.00 per hour.

Working on a cruise ship entails more hours of work weekly, which can total to 45 to 65 hours a week. These types of work apply to most of the service-oriented positions like housekeeping, kitchen, and restaurant servers. Longer workweek hours are due to 24/7 passenger requests. The work may seem long and formidable, but your income also increases when hours are added week by week.

For service-oriented positions, there will be tips and gratuities on top of their basic pay. Gratuities will be divided amongst the service staff, either monthly or quarterly, depending on the cruise liner’s schemes. Waiters, bartenders, casino workers, and housekeeping workers usually depend a lot on tips, which can easily double up their salary. 

Some jobs on a cruise ship are also commission-based. These jobs are often in sales positions, such as Gift Shop Sales Associate and Fine Jewelry Sales Associate. These positions may have a fixed basic pay plus a commission percentage for every sale made.

As mentioned earlier, your income is dependent on your position. The higher your position, of course, the higher your pay. Managerial positions like Operations Manager, Guest Services Manager, and Food and Beverage Manager can make anywhere from $4,500 to $10,000 per month!

But then again, to qualify for these positions, you will need years of experience. Of course, competition for these positions is also fierce. Undoubtedly, the highest-paid employees of the ship are the Cruise Director and the Cruise Ship Captain, both with salaries that range between $6,000 to $18,000 a month. However, getting these positions will entail a considerable amount of experience and knowledge.

These figures generally vary depending on many factors, such as the kind of cruise line (whether it’s a budget cruise line or a luxury cruise line), the size of the ship, and the type of the ship.

All salaries will, of course, be subjected to income taxes that would also apply to employment at land-paid jobs.

Perks and Benefits of Working on a Cruise Ship

cruise ship worker benefits

There are many perks and benefits on top of your basic pay or commission. The higher your position, the more privileges you enjoy.

1. Meals

It is common for most cruise liners to provide meals while working onboard. So, that’s an expense less on food and groceries. It includes three meals a day in a crew mess hall plus snacks and coffee in the afternoon, and usually at midnight, too. In some ships, they have mess halls that serve specific types of food or cuisines. However, there is no room service onboard for staff and crew members.

2. Room

You will be assigned a room for free. Depending on your position, you may have a cabin all to yourself or share it with 1 or 2 other crew members.

3. Beddings

Bed linen, pillows, towels, face towels, and some cleaning materials are all provided by the ship. However, you need to provide your toiletries. You and your roommates will also be responsible for cleaning your cabin. There is a weekly inspection by the ship’s management to make sure that routine cleaning is done.

4. Cruise Deals and Discounts

Another benefit is getting cruise deals and discounts. Some cruise ships give perks to cruise ship employees, especially if they hit their one-year mark working on the ship. With these perks, you can take your family on a cruise for a very affordable price. Having discounted cruise fares will help you save money on vacations and will be able to try the cruise experience as a guest.

Generally, the benefits and perks may vary from ship to ship, but the ones mentioned above are usually offered on most ships. Add to that the bonus of practically seeing so many countries and cities while working and meeting various people from different races and cultures.

Take all of these benefits into major consideration if you want to work on a cruise ship. You can’t get these benefits from other employment opportunities. Many experienced cruise ship employees say that they were able to save most of their basic pay because of these benefits and perks. If you total that over the years, it will add up to a substantial amount of savings.

What Expenses Can I Incur While Working on a Cruise Ship?

cruise ship worker expenses

Although meals and lodging are free while working on a cruise ship, there will also be expenses on board. These expenses are fairly minimal, which you need to spend on if you weren’t working at sea. Let’s take a look at these expenses:

1. Laundry

Laundry services for crew members are often free on cruise liners for their uniforms, including undergarments and socks. However, for personal clothing, there is a minimal charge for laundry services. The purchase of laundry soap is usually discounted too. Iron and ironing board use also comes with a minimum fee.

2. Internet

Internet use is not free for crew members. Most cruise ships have crew internet cafes where you can access the internet for a lower price than what the ship usually charges guests. Internet cards can easily be purchased at the crew area for internet access. The ship usually has different connections for crew and guests. Moreover, crew internet cards are not to be used in guest areas and vice versa. 

3. Phone

For using the phone, you will need to buy phone cards that are sold onboard. Phone calls can be expensive, so it is best to look up good deals for phone calls. Prepaid SIM cards are also an option for making phone calls. They are usually available on board and can be reloaded and used for mobile phones. 

4. Gym

Gym use for crew members requires a minimal fee, but some liners provide a free-of-charge crew gym. The same applies to the use of a crew pool if your ship has one. If ever there is a fee, it is usually lowered for the crew. 

5. Shopping

The gift shop is open for some crew positions, and all items can be purchased at a discounted price. There are also some occasions when the ship will organize a sale of items only for crew staff.

6. Salon and Spa

For haircuts, manicures, pedicures, and massages, you may go to the ship’s salons and spas and avail of their services at lower than regular prices. Some ships even encourage the crew to go to these spas when the ship is at the port and guests are inland for a day excursion. 

7. Shore Excursions

There is a possibility to join shore excursions with the guests if your work schedule allows it, and there are free slots on these tours. You will, however, be asked to have duties while on the excursion like making a headcount of the guests, be assigned to a group of guests, etc. But these excursions are usually free of charge when you get a chance to join. It’s an excellent way to see different places all over the world, in my opinion. 

8. Crew Welfare Program

Most cruise ships have a crew welfare program. It is a structured organization with a chairman and other officers who look after the welfare of the crew. This group organizes and conducts numerous activities just for the crew members.

Activities include evening events, sports activities like soccer games and tennis games, raffles and competitions, and many more. Some of these activities will cost a minimal fee. 

This list covers most of the expenses you can expect while working onboard a cruise ship. If you give it some thought, the majority of them are the same expenses you will have if you are working on any other job that isn’t on a cruise ship.

However, the huge difference is that while working on a cruise ship, you see so much of the world that you wouldn’t otherwise be able to see while working on land. The cruise line industry is expanding rapidly, and there are so many opportunities for cruise line members.

There’s a lot to consider before you decide on working on a cruise ship, and you need to be sure that it is indeed what you want. But, one thing is definite–you will have many memories and unforgettable experiences while working on a cruise ship.

Conclusion – How Much Do Cruise Ship Workers Make?

So to revisit our initial question: “How much do cruise ship workers make?” On average, a cruise ship worker makes $1,200 to $1500 a month as basic pay. There are tips and gratuities for other cruise jobs that can be added on top of this basic pay. Also, meals and lodging are free, and there are tons of benefits that can reduce one’s living expenses.

Many cruise ship workers also say that it is easy to save money while working onboard. It comes along with the priceless opportunity to see so much of the world as well.

Related reading:

How Much Does a Cruise Ship Captain Make?

How to Get a Job on a Cruise Ship with No Experience

How to Become a Cruise Ship Captain

What Is It Like to Work on a Cruise Ship? Pros and Cons