This weekend I read an interesting article in the Springfield Register-Guard about Royal Caribbean Cruises’ plans to add employees at its call center in Oregon.

There are currently over 700 employees at the call center in Oregon, according to the newspaper. The cruise line is planning to add another 220 mostly full time employees.

What struck me about the article was the lucrative pay and benefits which the cruise line provides to its employees. The newspapers says "Royal Caribbean touts its modern facility, which includes a fitness center and cafeteria; base pay that starts at $8.85 to $10.50 an hour, not including incentive pay; Royal Caribbean Call Center Spinngfield Oregonhealth care insurance; a retirement plan; the chance to advance rapidly, and cruising privileges."

The cruise line also received lucrative incentives to open the call center back in 2006. The state of Oregon provided $1.3 million in incentives, including a $600,000 loan. The company was required to pay back only around $64,000. 

What a great employment package for the people in Oregon (especially compared to the Royal Caribbean operations in the U.K. which was out-sourced to Guatemala earlier this year). They can make over $400 working 40 hours a week, plus benefits, in a nice facility doing a cushy job. 

How does that compare to a cleaner from Jamaica who works on a Royal Caribbean ship 10 to 12 hours a day, 7 days a week, with no time off and no benefits?  A cleaner on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship makes around $550 a month performing strenuous work under difficult circumstances, far from the comforts of home. That turns out to around $1.75 an hour. They are tied to contracts lasting anywhere from 6 to 9 months without a single day off.

The cruise line pays no taxes on the billions of dollars paid each year by cruise passenger, because it is incorporated in Liberia and it registers its ship under flags of convenience (Bahamas and Liberia) on its cruise ships. It rakes in millions and millions each year in profits. Its cruise executives, Mr. Fain and Mr. Goldstein, are collectively worth well over $100,000,000 because of the hard working and minimally paid crew, mostly from the Caribbean islands, east Europe, India, Indonesia and the Philippines.

The U.S. executives are swimming in cash while paying the "foreign" crew peanuts. 

There is something wrong when a U.S. call center employee sitting in a cubicle answering the phone for the cruise line can work less than one-half of the hours of a shipboard employee yet earn three times more, plus benefits and perks.   


Have a thought?  Please leave a comment below or join the discussion on our Facebook page

Don’t forget to read:  

Cruise Law Visits Royal Caribbean in Oregon

Globalization at Work? Royal Caribbean’s U.K. Call Center Outsourced to Guatemala

  • jtc

    Work for $550/month is sometimes twice what most of foreign workers would make at home. So what is wrong with that. They knew the work is hard but ten times harder at home for less. Hence the smiles most of the time.

  • Jtc….

    Jtc…its called slave labor you moron…or did you skip history lesson in high school?

  • menandro soriano

    Iam a retired royal caribbean crew member and ican say that even the retirement plan they give to their employee is not enough after a long period of service to the company

  • tinikini

    It is so cruel how they treat their employees that work on the ships. I own a business and I treat my employees well. It is called respect of a fellow human being. I treat them the way I would want to be treated and I pay them accordingly to the job that they do. Isn’t that the way it should be???? You don’t have to be rich to treat and pay people accordingly. I am not rich, but I sure do have a happy crew that works hard and makes me money.

    jtc…I agree with the comment above. You do not take advantage of someone just because they come from a poor country! Enough said.

  • didier rillof

    JTC you don’t get it do you ? What they do is take advantage of these people making them work like slaves!They all would rather stay in their homecountry but unfortunately they can’t because they want to provide a better life for their families and the cruise lines simply take advantage !

  • john.Jaap

    Like the states the hospitality industry are paid low hourly rates but their pay is made up by tips. Which can give them a reasonable wage. I also have been told the tips are not taxed.

  • Harry

    I’ve worked onboard for 6 years. I’m happy, I’ve never had a problem with the hours I work and I earn more onboard than I would at home. For all those people who complain and call it slave labour, why don’t you come onboard and work. See what it’s all about, travel the world for free and get paid at the same time. I’ve been to somewhere around 150 different countries, and I wouldn’t have been able to do it if I didn’t work onboard.

  • wt

    It’s something called difference of living standard. It would be slave labor if they live in the States, but not in their home countries. Also, don’t forget working on ships means no need to pay rent, gas, food, and in most cases, flights to join and disembark a ship. Calculating these factors in, they don’t earn that little. Who doesn’t want more money? But if they signed the contract and agreed to the terms, it’s no one else’s business.

  • Dewault Hatch

    I want to see your facts about how you came up with the on board staff being paid $555 a month. I have been on many cruises and I’m well aware that the tips for the room Stewart would exceed this figure on a one week cruise based on at least $60 a cabin if they were only assigned 10 cabins.

  • I wrote that cleaners earn $550 a month. They don’t earn tips.

    Stateroom attendants, waiters and bartenders earn tips on top of their tiny salary of $50 a month. That’s right just $50 a month. But the cruise lines like Royal Carribean and Carnival are stealing the tips from the tip-earning crew members to help offset the small salaries of the non-tip earning crew members.

    It’s quite a scam.

  • Mr c

    I have worked in cruise ship. But for me was for choice of experience and not for financial gain but I was not badly paid. The truth is you are only a cleaner if you want the company offers everyone the chance to grow up to management level.and earn good money. It is a hard job. But many of them if they can work for 3 to 4 and depending on the country. They will go home with money to open a business and live with mortgage fully paid before they 25….
    Now the think that pot me off the industry is the discrimination at work. How lower rank workers are treated by management and promotions on the job is based on nationality. So if the high management if from you country you 90% more chances for promotion and I knew many manager getting paid in the home countries to promote the fellow country mates.

  • Kim

    I work on NCL as an entertainer, making about 7 times the wage of that cleaner and working 1/3 the hours. And, Kevin Sheehan, the CEO, made about 4.3 million last year. The whole situation is obscene, and the quicker the entire industry is ended (perhaps by environmental law and/or increasing fuel costs?), the better.

  • Bill van Eck

    I also joined the cruise industry by free choice,to travel for free and see the world
    As a cabin steward in the mid to late eighties I was paid U$200 per month by some kind of Italien company with headquarters somewhere along the panama canal!!!
    But tips were good and although we worked damned hard and long hours,the comradery and friendships made up for a lot of ill feelings towards the cruise company,
    But after almost 5 years time was up for me,after an standup argument with my immediate boss about the inequality of treatment regarding Mexican and Phillipino crew I knew there was no comeback for me.
    now that I am happely retired in Bali I can look back with fond memories although I know from my Balinese friends who work on cruiseships and come to me for guidance and solance that all is not well and the inequallities have gone from bad to worse,
    living 24/7 in crewquarters without natural light and CCTV everywhere is too much for some of those people and they come home,some cry on my shoulder,poor sods,
    So,all in all I think the cruise industry must shake itself up will it survive

  • ana

    only 50 dollars salary coming from the pocket Royal Caribbean because the positions with tips get their salary from the tips given by the guest of the ships. 15% of what you sell is your share. If you sell $300 worth of beverages in a day then you get the $45 of that then multiply by 30 days. I don’t think it is alot for sacrificing leaving husband, wife, children, relatives, friends, house and comfort zone. at least something that will compensate all the pain and agony. Still peace of mind is priceless. some of them choose to go home when they reach the ship.

  • shinto

    Signing a contract for 13 hrs work a day & 7 days a week and paying such a low wage.What you think.All crew members are forced to work for such a long hours.its against the right oh humanity.Hope everything will change one day.This is the situation in every cruise line, with no job security.

  • Kristin

    “cushy job” at 8.85 an hour- 10.50 max?? in a CALL center?! Are you kidding me? Even the dishwasher on a cruise line would give up after “doing phones” for a week. It is AWFUL- you can be terminated if you are late fractions of a minute (you must log into a phone system at your desk- it is to the seconds) and if you mis-log in by half a minute or even less- 3x in one month you ARE terminated. An employee must make a quota or be fired. This is your modern day sweat shop! Do you know why so many of these companies outsource for their call centers? Even American workers desperate for a job after being unemployed for months to years can’t take the extreme pressure of the call center environment. But please do not call a glorified telemarketing job making next to minimum wage “cushy”. It is an insult…

  • Ann

    Address the fact that all levels of officers onboard RCCL ships have NO RETIREMENT PLAN and NO JOB SECURITY. How does that compare to the average shoreside employee with RCCL.

  • Denis May

    We have done 8 cruises now with 5 different lines we do feel Princess Lines to be one of the better ones for passengers but all Cruise Lines are guilty of paying their Crews very poor wages.
    The service fee that is attached to your on board account I feel is outrageous as for starters there is no guarantee it will be shared out equally or the Crew will even see any of it.
    I can’t see the Captain or anyone else saying ‘Well we made X amount of dollars this cruise in service fees your share is “Y Dollars”
    I usually have the service fee removed and tip directly the ones we want to at least we know that the person gets it.
    Something must be done to improve Crew conditions as it is the Crew’s efforts that make or break the Cruise.
    While it is not my problem if someone wants to work for crap wages, we as passengers should make sure those who do give good service are brought to the attention of their employers and some sort of tip be given as well.
    Crise Lines are making money hand over fist and should be held accountable for shabby treatment of Staff or shady deals with Ports of call.
    We done the Seaward to Vancouver Inside Passege Cruise in 2010 and was told by the President of Icy Point Straight Tourist Committee that Cruise Lines demand 40% of the Town’s taking that day the Ship calls in.
    If it is not paid the Port is taken off the list of Ports used.
    If that is true it’s the closest thing to Blackmail I’ve heard about and should be investigated by the powers to be of Cruise Lines and if found to be true whatever money made under that plan be refunded to the Town and the Cruise Line prosecuted to the maximum level.
    I can well believe the Line we sailed with on that occasion would be a party to such skull duggery as they were the most patronising,insincere cruise staff we have ever been on.
    The Cruise Industry has grown at a huge rate the last few years, let’s hope things improve for the Crews all over the World.

  • Roger