Carnival and Royal Caribbean paid their median employee less than $20,000 in 2018

Carnival and Royal Caribbean paid their median employee less than $20,000 in 2018

cruise ship worker

Roslan Rahman/AFP/Getty Images

A Royal Caribbean housekeeping employee.


The median employee for each of the three largest cruise companies - Carnival Corporation, Royal Caribbean Cruises, and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings - made over $10,000 less than the median American worker in 2018.

The companies reported in regulatory filings the following median annual earnings for 2018:

  • Carnival Corporation: $16,622
  • Royal Caribbean Cruises: $19,396
  • Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings: $20,101

Read more: Cruise-ship workers reveal how much money they really make

Each company said its median employee worked on one of its ships. Carnival said many of its ship-based employees worked between six and 11 months each year, while Norwegian said six to 10 months was common for its ship-based staff.


The median annual income in the United States was $31,561 in 2017 (the latest year for which data is available), according to the Social Security Administration.

"Wages aren't the full story when you are talking about seafarers. In addition to wages, cruise lines provide room and board, meals, training, free medical care, and many other benefits that aren't included in the average US job," said a representative for the Cruise Lines International Association, a trade association for the cruise industry. "Employee retention rates in the cruise industry are upwards of 80% - unheard of in other industries."

Carnival declined a request for comment. Norwegian and Royal Caribbean did not respond to requests for comment.

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