75p/h on the high seas (tipping optional)

What's worse than making 75p/h working on a cruise ship owned by Carnival? Having your employers withhold your tips unless you hit performance targets. "Yes, the minimum wage is more than we pay, but this is a global industry, our businesses have to remain competitive."


  1. “our businesses have to remain competitive.”

    Ah, yes. The eternal excuse for screwing your employees. One has to wonder how low in the barrel they’re willing to scrape in order to justify such “competitiveness”? I mean…slaves work for free, right? We have to remain competitive!

    1. Some guests complained that the rattling of the slaves’ chains ruined their vacation experience.

    2. Mind you, “our businesses have to remain competitive” is also trotted out whenever companies have to defend the exorbitant senior management salaries in an era of “the war for talent”.

      The less objective the measurement of the performance of “talent” can be, it seems, the higher it is remunerated.

    3.  Slavery was the economic foundation of the US current wealth. That and genocide of indigenous people.

  2. And, naturally enough, these guys are the ones who are going to risk their lives to save strangers while the Captain bails for shore.

  3. how does this compare to horrible nightmare that is disney world employment?

    “In the 22-minute short film titled MouseTrapped (2010), employees of Florida’s Walt Disney World plead with Disney to negotiate a fair contract with their Union. The film is interesting on two accounts. First, is a good example of the low wages in many service industries. Sociologists refer to the “working poor” to describe people who work full-time and yet still cannot make ends meet. Some of the employees in this video take second jobs, live with their parents or siblings, routinely take food from church food banks, or receive food stamps.”

        1. A bunch of clowns there too, but to each his own; I am not judging.  Watch out, some of the funnel cakes have been sitting around a while.

          1. Yeah, I had a roommate in the 70s who was a carny.  Also a heroin addict and one of the founders of NAMBLA.

    1. Not great, agreed. Granted, 400 pounds including bonus (the lowest wage apparently, meaning some employees will make more?) _may_ be really good for some Indians, but still, doesn’t make it right.

      What I don’t get though is why passengers are “horrified” to learn what the crew gets paid. To take a random example, a 2-week cruise in Europe on a ship that carries 1,500 passengers and 750 crew runs you about 700 Euros. On a ship that cost 250-freakin’-million Euros to build. Basic math (or even just common sense) should tell you that there will be a whole lot of underpaid people on board.

    2. Not that I’m defending that amount, but to be fair, cruise ship crews get housed and fed as part of the deal.

      Again, not saying it’s right. Just maybe not quite as awful when you take room/board into account.

      1. Just maybe not quite as awful when you take room/board into account.

        ‘Room’ in this case consists of a tiny bunk in a windowless closet that you share with your coworkers.

  4. I’m wondering if it’s just Carnival (and P&O, but their parent company is Carnival anyway) that’s this evil, or if other companies are doing this too…

  5. There are international treaties to protect the Olympics’ trademark, but no treaties to ensure workers’ rights to fair pay and to organize. Tells you who’s really running things (as if we needed a reminder).

  6. Ack. My mom took my sister’s and my families on a Carnival cruise to Mexico last month. We’re not wealthy/leisurely inclined people and this was not our usual idea of a vacation (I prefer visiting places with culture or Burning Man). Anyway, the employees, mostly Philipino and Indonesian were super friendly and helpful for the entire week, which is more than I could sustain. Tips are automatically included on everything and passengers can always tip more at their discretion, but who knows how they get divvied up?

  7. Article doesn’t say hat the living costs of the crew are whilst onboard. I’m thinking zero, or close to it. Still crappy wages, but if they’re getting free meals and accommodation, not as crappy as it might first seem.

  8. I don’t really know anything about the living arrangements and lifestyles of crews on cruise ship but would I be right in saying that if you work 11 hours a day, 7 days a week on a ship that the only place you would really be able to spend your wage would be on the ship?  Your money going straight back to your P&O?  Someone please tell me that I’m wrong, that working life on a cruise ship doesn’t work like that and the employers who pay a disgusting 75p/h don’t just get the money back again.

    1. Can’t speak for P&O or Carnival, but yeah, that’s how it works on some of the cruise lines. What also happens sometimes is that they make you pay for training, uniforms etc., which means you are in debt before you even start working. Want to leave before your debt is paid back because you can’t bear it? No salary for you, sorry!

      Again, not saying this is what Carnival does, yada yada.

      1. Okay, turns out it can be even worse: just re-watched a rather well-known undercover documentary filmed on one of the more expensive ships; a €900/month waitress had to pay €1,400 up-front, a cook from SE Asia €3,000. Irrevocably gone, not a loan from the company or anything. Dishwashers made €400/mo and paid €200/mo in living costs (including food and even water; nothing’s “free” there).

        Again, Carnival may be totally different, I wouldn’t know.

  9. If we didn’t pay them this little, they might question our reasoning for cutting corners on training captains, maintenance, and disinfecting ships that gave everyone the shits.   We tell them they are making less because “pirate” cruise lines are stealing our business, while we get nice bonuses for keeping costs down…
    It works out fantastically as long as we can avoid reefs and other sailors on becalmed boats.  Then it was just we didn’t understand what they were telling us… a communication problem not a problem of being a soulless corporation.

  10. I suspect, like how it is with servers in a restaurant, the bulk of the crew’s income comes from tips.  However, if the cruise line insists on collecting mandatory tips themselves, and they get to decide how much of it the crew gets, they’ve effectively ended their only viable source of income and the prime incentive for doing a good job. Expect good workers and good service to vanish accordingly.

    1. I suspect, like how it is with servers in a restaurant, the bulk of the crew’s income comes from tips.

      I don’t think that’s the case in many countries outside the USA. A fair chunk of income perhaps, the bulk, not likely.

  11. “your employers withhold your tips unless you hit performance targets.”

    Wait a sec … doesn’t that completely defeat the point of tipping? If I’m getting paid by tips, why do I need ‘performance targets’? If I’m getting tips, how can I not be meeting any rational ‘performance targets’?

    I am so glad tipping hasn’t taken hold here (yet?). Just pay people a decent wage, and get on with it. That whole tipping economy seems to set up perverse incentives, for everyone involved, even when the staff do actually /get/ their tips.

    1. “If I’m getting paid by tips, why do I need ‘performance targets’? If I’m getting tips, how can I not be meeting any rational ‘performance targets’?”

      On many cruise ships, tips aren’t distributed to each crew member by the passengers themselves. Passengers are asked to pay a suggested amount that will be distributed among all the crew.

      I’m guessing the ‘performance targets’ are meant to ensure that someone can’t do a C- job and get the same tip as someone who does an A+ job. But there has to be a better way.

      1. “On many cruise ships, tips aren’t distributed to each crew member by the passengers themselves. Passengers are asked to pay a suggested amount that will be distributed among all the crew.”

        That isn’t a tip in any meaningful sense of the word. That’s just ‘the price,’ which gets distributed as ‘wages.’

    2. I feel compelled to re-post a comment I made on another story:

      There are so many jobs in the US that would make me want to kill myself.

      This joint expects low-paid workers to beg for tips from customers to subsidise their shitty wages, co-opts and brands basic courtesy into some grotesque ‘greeter’ job description, drapes sandwich boards over the desperate, and basically pisses all over fundamental human decency in the drive to disenfranchise, humiliate, and grind into the dust anyone who’s down on their luck.

      Give me your tired, your poor,
      Your huddled masses, yearning to breathe free,
      The wretched refuse of your teeming shore,
      Send these, the homeless, tempest tossed,
      Because I need someone to shit on.

      And the utter scumbags who wholeheartedly approve of such a vile state of affairs are hell-bent on exporting this misery to every corner of the globe. That arch-scum Murdoch has just about eliminated the means to have a proper public debate about any of this, while getting most of the idiots on side… meanwhile, right-wing think tanks proliferate and fund lobbyists, undermine respect for science, erode workers’ rights, and all the rest of it…

      The US was once a great source of hope, but the rancid black cancer at its heart has long since metastasised, and now the cause of its imminent death riddles the world.

  12. This kind of abuse can be helped by using a “flag of convenience,” similar to the way pirates will fly different flags to fool their victims. So you want to get into the cruise ship business? Since you’re going to be operating at sea, moving from one nation to another, and you want to make a profit and you have no conscience, register your container ship or Gulag Princess cruise liner with the country with the skimpiest regulations in terms of labor, environmental standards, or anything else that might get in the way of your profit. Recruit the most desperate workers from anywhere in the world, far from where the ship operates, and then tell them to cough up $3000 or more for a ticket home if they try to quit.

    Here’s a scary report from a few years ago by Waronwant.org and Intl Transport Workers’ Federation, called SWEAT SHIPS. This focuses on the kinds of horror stories cruise ship workers have experienced. I imagine it’s worse for some other kinds of workers at sea, where there are no cruisers or tourists to humor.

  13. Micky Arison (Chairman and CEO) ‘earns’ $7,201,110 (2009) (Equilar). Will he have his tips witheld if he fails to meet the targets required for a slavemaster? 

  14. “Our businesses have to remain competitive, which is why we’ll be serving delicious Soylent Green at the buffet tonight.”

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