How Much Do Staff Get Paid on a Cruise Ship?

By Alice Nichols

Cruise ships are a popular form of vacation for many people. Working on a cruise ship is an attractive job opportunity for many, but it’s important to know what you will be paid before applying.

Compensation Structure – Wages earned by staff on a cruise ship depend on the type of job. Generally, staff are paid either an hourly wage or salary, depending on the department they work in and their experience level. Cruise lines typically offer bonuses or other types of incentive pay packages to keep their staff motivated to perform well and provide excellent customer service.

Hourly Employees – Hourly employees are typically lower-level staff such as deckhands, housekeeping attendants and food service workers. They usually start out making minimum wage or slightly more, though experienced workers may earn higher wages. However, the hours worked can be long and irregular, so it’s important to consider that when evaluating the overall compensation package.

Salaried Employees – Salaried employees are typically more experienced and hold management positions such as head chefs or department heads. They usually receive higher wages than hourly employees and often have additional benefits such as health insurance or paid vacation time included in their compensation package.

Tips – Tips are another way that cruise ship staff can supplement their income while working onboard a vessel. Tips are typically given by passengers directly to individual staff members rather than the company itself, so they can vary widely depending on the level of service provided and how generous passengers choose to be with their tips.

Cost of Living Adjustment – Cruise lines also offer a cost of living adjustment (COLA) for crew members who work onboard ships for extended periods of time. This adjustment is designed to help offset any additional costs associated with living onboard a vessel such as food and laundry expenses, which can add up quickly over time.


The wages earned by cruise ship staff vary greatly depending on the job they do and how long they have been working onboard the vessel. Hourly employees tend to earn minimum wage or slightly more while salaried employees may receive higher wages plus additional benefits like health insurance or paid vacation time included in their compensation package. In addition, tips from passengers can further supplement incomes while Cost of Living Adjustments (COLA) help offset some of the costs associated with living at sea for extended periods of time.
In conclusion, how much staff get paid on a cruise ship depends largely on their job role, experience level, length of contract and any tips received from passengers thanks to great customer service!