A lawyer who represents cruise ship workers reveals the hardest job on a cruise ship

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A lawyer who represents cruise ship workers reveals the hardest job on a cruise ship

cruise ship kitchen

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Utility galley workers often work 12-14 hours per day, seven days per week for just $500-$700 per month, Michael Guilford said.

  • Utility galley workers have the most difficult job on a cruise ship, maritime lawyer Michael Guilford told Business Insider.
  • Utility galley workers are responsible for a number of tasks related to food service, including handling heavy trash bags, washing cooking equipment with scalding-hot water, and using dangerous cleaning chemicals without proper protective clothing.
  • Some clients have come to Guilford after being blinded by cleaning chemicals that have splashed into their eyes or having skin burned off their hands, he said.
  • A representative for the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), a trade association for the cruise industry, told Business Insider that all member cruise lines must follow regulations set by the International Maritime Organization and International Labour Organization that govern the treatment of cruise ship employees.

There are many difficult jobs on a cruise ship, but the hardest, most physically-demanding position requires working up to 14 hours a day for $500-$700 per month, according to a lawyer who represents cruise ship employees.

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That job belongs to a utility galley worker, maritime lawyer Michael Guilford told Business Insider. Utility galley workers are responsible for a number of tasks related to food service, including handling heavy trash bags, washing cooking equipment with scalding-hot water, and using dangerous cleaning chemicals without proper protective clothing. Some clients have come to Guilford after being blinded by cleaning chemicals that have splashed into their eyes or having skin burned off their hands, he said.

"This is not your average Mr. Clean that you're using around the house. This is serious stuff."

Read more: A former cruise-ship waiter describes why the party culture on cruise ships isn't as fun as it seems

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Utility galley workers often work 12-14 hours per day, seven days per week for just $500-$700 per month, Guilford said. In some cases, they're not able to take scheduled breaks, but are later required by their supervisors to change their timesheets to make it appear as if they took the breaks. Guilford said timesheet manipulation is a common issue he hears from clients.

"The wage fraud that goes on on these boats is unbelievable," he said.

While the difficulty of the utility galley job exceeds all others on a cruise ship, waiters and room stewards, who clean passenger cabins, also have some of the most difficult jobs, Guilford said. Waiters have to carry heavy trays that can lead to back and shoulder injuries, while room stewards have to clean at a rapid pace, especially before or after passengers board their ship. Sometimes, they'll have to clean as many as 20 cabins in just three hours, Guilford said.

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Each position makes between $1,200-$1,500 per month, Guilford said. While waiters work 10-12 hours per day, room stewards are on call for 24 hours.

"The conditions are harsh," Guilford said.

A representative for the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), a trade association for the cruise industry, told Business Insider that all member cruise lines must follow regulations set by the International Maritime Organization and International Labour Organization that govern the treatment of cruise ship employees.

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"The cruise industry strives to provide a high-quality work environment for its seafarers by offering ongoing training, career advancement and the opportunity to travel the world," the representative said.

"The cruise industry also fully supports the International Maritime Labour Convention, also known as the 'Seafarers' Bill of Rights,' which sets international standards addressing hours of work and rest, health and safety, and living conditions for seafarers and requires governments to ensure ships are in compliance."

The CLIA's members include Carnival Cruise Line, Norwegian Cruise Line, and Royal Caribbean International, among others.

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Have you worked on a cruise ship? Do you have a story to share? Email this reporter at mmatousek@businessinsider.com.

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