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Salary

Followings are some important topics regarding your Salary.

Check your Cruise Ship Employee Contract and Agreements Before You Sign

Each crew member must sign an employment agreement or an employment contract before actually reporting to work. The crew member may do this before they leave home or once onboard ship. The contract lists the crew member’s position, the length of the employment agreement and how much they will be paid, etc.

The employee’s employment contract also states the expected hours that will be worked. For example, an employment agreement may state that you can expect to work an average of 11 hours per day, seven days per week. Alternatively, the contract may state that the employee may work up to 70 hours per week, seven days per week.

Some contracts may pay overtime. In the case of Royal Caribbean, their Getting Onboard Employee Handbook states, “You may be required to work more than 70 hours per week, or overtime. If so, non-management employees will be paid for the overtime hours worked.” Check with your recruiter if overtime is paid and at what number of hours is considered overtime.

Reveal the secret of Cruise Ship Jobs Salary

For the crew member from North America or Western Europe countries, the salary offered on the cruise ships, at first glance, may seem low relative to similar shore-based positions. However, it’s important to keep in mind that all your major living expenses such as rent, food, utilities and related bills are all taken care of by the cruise line while you are working at sea.

Also, it is getting normal for most global marine professions and companies that the salary rates are typically based on the standard of living in the employee’s home country.  For example, a US$600 per month salary for a laundry attendant may seem extremely low for an American worker, but for a minimally-skilled Indian or Filipino person, a US$600 monthly salary is a modest income for a typical household in a country where the average monthly wage may be under US$300.  In fact, jobs on cruise ships are coveted positions in some countries where the work is a steady source of income for an extended family.

For the technical and higher-skilled cruise ship jobs and positions where there is an increased level of responsibility, the monthly salary increases and is commensurate with similar marine positions around the world.

It may confuse you that not all employees working in the same department and in the same position make the same salary. The main reason is most cruise lines set different salary level based on crewmember’s nationality. For example, a youth waiter from the Philippines makes less than the one from Canada. This also explains why some cruise lines hire a limited amount of waiters from North America. In this way, signing his/her contract means agreeing to the specified salary.

How Are Tips/Gratuities Paid?

To answer this question, the crew can look into each cruise lines ’cruise fare structure. The all-inclusive cruise lines (where tips are included on cruise fare for passenger) pay a higher wage for cabin stewards and waiters because there is no tip pool. For many cruise lines, the gratuities are automatically deducted from the passenger’s onboard account to be paid out to the crew at the end of the month. During each cruise on each ship, the gratuities go into a “pool” that is divided between the house-keeping & dinning crewmembers. Since there will be gratuity to expect, many cruise lines pay a lower wage to house-keeping & dinning positions. However, cruise lines generally do not make any promises as to how much tips or gratuities will actually be paid. For house-keeping & dinning crewmembers, you have to take the risk of low income. For those positions not included into the tip pool, you may be offered higher salary and, probably, join the commission program to earn more.

Taxes on Cruise Ship Employment Income

The crew member is responsible for any taxes due to his/her country of origin. Only United States citizens or employees that reside in the USA will have US federal taxes deducted from their salary directly. Depending on your employment contract and the country where you are a citizen will determine how you are paid onboard also.

Some countries do not require their citizens to pay taxes on employment income if they are a seafarer. On the other hand if you are a citizen of a country that requires you to report your worldwide income on your tax return, you may have to pay taxes when you file your tax return at the end of the year. The bottom line is that taxes will not be deducted from your payroll, but some nationalities will be responsible to remit taxes at the end of the year. For Taiwanese, if you oversea income less than 1 million Taiwanese dollar, you don’t have to file the tax return.

The recruiter from Bon Voyage Human Capital CROP will explain to the prospective crew members how they will be paid, how much they will be paid and what deductions will be made on their payroll.

How Cruise Ship Crew Members Get Paid?

Regarding the Payroll Frequency, This depends on the cruise line you work for and your employment agreement. The crew member is generally paid in weekly, biweekly, semimonthly, or monthly. If the crew member starts their contract halfway through the month, they may have to wait until the end of the next full month to be paid.

Depending on your nationality and what you have organized with Bon Voyage Human Capital CROP’s recruiter will determine what currency you will be paid in. The crew member can choose payment in cash or direct deposit. If the crew member would like to change the way of payroll, you can visit the Crew Administration Department for details.

Payment in direct deposit


Many cruise lines encourage the direct deposit option. This is typically set up before the crewmember even leaves home. The crew member will utilize online system to check account information and withdraw the money from ATM easily. Also the crew may wire transfer money to their land-based bank account through basic setting on the online system. The crew member is welcome to bring a void check and a bank statement that shows the bank swift code, account number and the name on the account.

Payment in CASH


There is a safety deposit box in cruise ship cabin. It is the crew member who takes responsibility to secure his/her salary. Be aware of how much cash you want to travel with on your way home. Some countries require travelers to declare great amount of currency in possession. Plus, the crew member may not to want to make the large one lump sum transfer since some banks must report single deposits in excess of $10,000. Check the bank for details.

Your Great Helper: The Crew Office

The Crew Office on a cruise ship is managed by the Crew Purser or Crew Administrator. This office looks after the crew payroll including the payment of gratuities. They also collect crew expenses (ie. bar bills) at the end of each month. While working onboard, the crew office is your link to head office and all correspondence about payroll issues need to be sent through the crew office.

How to Save Money Working on a Cruise Ship?

The best way to save money is to NOT have the cash in your pocket. By either direct deposit or wiring your money home, having no access to the cash virtually eliminates the temptation to spend it. You have very few expenses working onboard since your normal monthly expenses (like rent, food, etc.) are covered or inexpensive. If you want to end your contract with a large amount of savings, you’ll need to learn to resist shopping in the ports and in the shops on board.