Amber H asked in TravelCruise Travel · 1 decade ago

Why are the vast majority of cruise ship employees foreign?

I just got back from my 4th Mexican cruise in 5 years. In that time I've seen only one employee from the United States. I'm curious if there is a specific reason behind this? Are there American employees on European cruises?

11 Answers

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  • Mary
    Lv 7
    1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    Because the vast majority of passenger ships are not registered in the US, they are not subject to US minimum wage and other labor law requirements. And indeed they do not. The vast majority of crew in housekeeping, food service, deck department, and other of the lowest-paying jobs are recruited from areas of the world in which the wages paid are considered very good, and those crew members who save their wages and tips are able to send money home to support their families. Of all of the nationalities of crew members I have met on ships, the largest number are from the Phillipines, where ships' wages go very far. The most "international" crew I have ever seen is on Cunard's ships, and they have large numbers of crew members from England. (Cunard is English.) Costa ships have more crew members from Italy than I have ever seen on other ships (Costa is Italian). I have not seen crew or officers from the US, although I understand that there is a ship in Hawaii that is US-registered and carries lots of crew from the US.

    Source(s): frequent passenger
  • 1 decade ago

    Just take note of the hours they work and you'll have your answer. You see the same staff serving or clearing tables at breakfast as you saw serving you at dinner or at the bar , seven days a week . I believe that most of them work several months straight with no break , then they go home for maybe a month and come back to another long stint. I spoke to one steward who told me he only sees his family for 6 weeks each year , ( he had been marrried for 4 years and had 4 children !! )

    You'll see mainly asians with the big majority being Phillipinos , but more recently there also seems to be an influx of eastern europeans.

    On RC at least you'll also see some Caribbeans as well , mainly working in the bars.

    These are all places where average pay on shore is very low so cruise wages and conditions are good for them. This is also true on merchant ships in general not just the cruise ships.

    I did some work in Manila recently and on the flight out I sat next to a guy who was executive chef for one of the cruielines. He was going on his annual recruitment trip to a college that trained chefs specifically for the cruise ships. He told me that the cruise lines like Phillipinos because they are hard workers and quick learners .

    Of course the more senior roles are better paid so these are more likely to be held by Europeans or Americans , although I have seen a few Phillipino officers as well, particularly in the catering staff.

    Source(s): Experience
  • Sara M
    Lv 4
    1 decade ago

    There will always be a certain number of American (or other native-English speakers) on cruise ship that accommodate other English-speakers, especially in highly-visible jobs that require lots of face-to-face communication.

    And those type jobs tend to pay well enough to attract the more tenacious Americans. However, the living conditions & low pay of say, cabin stewards, kitchen & wait staff - the grand majority of jobs on board - will turn away most any native English-speaker. After all, the concept of 7 10-hour days a week at sub-minimum wage? Most would rather be unemployed then work such a job.

    However for someone from a country with a depressed economy, scoring a job that pays $15,000 a year, with goodly portions of that coming in large lump sums? Many can support their entire family, even extended families - and some cruise workers recruit their entire families to work & live onboard as well.

  • 1 decade ago

    It really depends on the line, as well as the ship in some cases.

    Generally speaking, the pay on cruise ships isn't that great compared to some other jobs (although, really, it can work out in other ways, since you don't have to pay anything for room & board, basically you can just bank your paycheck).

    Really, it is a lot of hard work. Some people from the States aren't willing to work 7 days a week, sometimes 10 or more hours in a day. But it does have travel benefits, which is why you see a few. Usually you find people from poorer countries working in the restaurants and housekeeping since they get paid more than they would at home, and sometimes the hours are similar (plus they get a month or more vacation between contracts). They're not afraid of the hard work in order to improve their kid's chance at a better life.

    You'll probably notice that the management, cruise staff, purser's desk, and shore excursions employ people from more developed countries since they're not gratuity based, and the hours can sometimes be slightly less (and are not as labour-intensive)

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  • Abby
    Lv 4
    4 years ago

    Cruise ship employees get little time off. You can probably get off the ship if you aren't scheduled to work but have to be back for your next shift. Realize, you will be stopping at the same 5-6 ports every week.

  • Albex
    Lv 7
    1 decade ago

    this is he same thing I wanted to know coming back from my second Mexican cruise.

    According to the cruise director all cruise lines mainly employ foreign workers mainly from Asia as they need the jobs more than anyone else. Carnival hires the most. on my cruises I have seen people from England and Canada along with Australia but the only American crew member onboard was our cruise Director

    I have nothing against foreigners but man it gets so frustrating when you have to turn to them for help and they can barely understand you

  • 1 decade ago

    There aren't more Americans because, in general, Americans aren't willing to work under the conditions required for a job on a cruise ship.

  • 6 years ago

    The only one I saw was from Texas and a dancer but as we were disembarking I saw her directing people on where to go and pushing passengers around in wheelchairs She seemed happy but I was in the Military so I know what tired and overworked yet motivated looks like

  • 1 decade ago

    We were told this was because they don't have to pay foreign workers the wages they would have to pay if they were American. Came straight from a cruise director on NCL.

  • 1 decade ago

    Most of the cruise ships are registered in foreign countries. Look them up. I would think the the most of the employees are also from the cruise ships' home port.

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