ship workers are paid a paltry 75p an hour - and now face losing cash tips if they don't meet performance targets.
Bosses at P&O Cruises are scrapping cash tips in favour of electronic gratuities that will be added to passenger bills. The company will then redistribute the money to staff.
According to documents seen by the Guardian
, some members of crew earn a basic salary of just £250 a month for shifts lasting a minimum of 11 hours.
While the CEO of Carnival UK, David Dingle, said the move would "make crew more responsive" and "offer them protection as tips dry up in the economic downturn", some staff workers were reportedly "in tears" when told of the new arrangements.
Dingle told the Daily Telegraph
: "You've got staff from eastern Europe in restaurants in Britain – why? Because it's great money. Yes, the minimum wage is more than we pay, but this is a global industry, Our businesses have to remain competitive.
"Let's not forget the level of take-home pay for our staff, the vast majority of whom come from India. Look at hotels in Goa. The earning ability is greater on our ships.
"We have a manning office in Mumbai. There are queues out on to the street. It clearly is of value to these people."
But some critics disagree, and believe the level of pay is exploitative.
Brendan Barber, general secretary of the TUC, said: "Holidaymakers will be horrified to learn that some of the seafarers on their cruise
ships are paid so little.
"It's high time the disgraceful practice of allowing the shipping industry to pay poverty wages to workers who don't live in the UK was stopped. Exploitative rates of pay for those working on British ships have no place in a modern society."
But Carol Marlow, the company's managing director, said the move would also remove the embarrassing moment for passengers when they don't know how much or when to tip staff in the same way a restaurant adds suggested gratuity to a bill.
"Tipping has always been an integral part of the cruise
experience but sometimes our passengers tell us they've been confused over whether or when to leave a cash tip for their waiters and cabin stewards.
"The new policy will see a recommended tipping rate added to a passenger's on-board account on a daily basis. The recommended daily rate per person will be the same as has been in place for several years, namely £3.10, which is less than other cruise companies recommend as a daily rate. If our passengers wish to vary this amount they can do so whilst on board."
Already northern Europe's main port for the cruise industry, Southampton is expecting 1.5 million passengers to begin or end a cruise there in 2012 - a rise of 100,000 people - and is set to get a £45 million 'cruise boost'.
According to the Daily Echo
, the Passenger Shipping Association reports that UK cruise industry revenues went up from £2.3 billion to more than £2.4 billion in 2011.
It also added that the average price paid for a cruise ship berth was up to £1,434.
Do you think cruise
workers are being paid 'exploitative' rates? And is it a good idea to swap cash tips to pre-set electronic gratuities? Leave your thoughts below...
Cruise liner collides with ship in thick fog: Brits on board
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Cruise ship ignored castaway boat in the middle of Pacific
Discover the best cruises for 2012 here:
- Treat yourself to a Disney Fantasy
The Disney Fantasy sails at regular intervals from Port Canaveral, Florida on seven-night Caribbean itineraries that alternate eastern (St. Maarten and St. Thomas) and western (Grand Cayman, Costa Maya, Cozumel). All itineraries will include a stop at Disney's private island, Castaway Cay. Visit <a href="http://disneycruise.com" target="_blank">disneycruise.com</a> for details. Rates for a seven-night Caribbean cruise on the Disney Fantasy start at £692 per person for a standard stateroom, based on double occupancy.</p>
- Take a yoga cruise on Star Flyer
Star Clippers is running outdoor yoga cruises with twice-daily sessions on various itineraries including Hamburg to Oslo on Star Flyer for seven nights from £1,490pp. All prices are full board, with yoga and lectures and port charges. Flights extra. Visit <a href="http://www.starclippers.co.uk" target="_blank">starclippers.co.uk</a>.</p>
- Go all-inclusive with Crystal Symphony
That fear of the drinks bill may be a thing of the past now that Crystal Cruises has launched a new all-inclusive package on Crystal Symphony. Complimentary drinks range from fine wines such as Beringer Napa Valley Chardonnay to Grey Goose vodka with pre-paid gratuities. Crystal Serenity follows suit with her 16-night transatlantic sailing on 8 May from New York to Dover - £4,111pp all-inclusive in a deluxe stateroom with picture window including one-way flight to New York and transfers. Visit <a href="http://www.celebritycruises.co.uk" target="_blank">crystalcruises.co.uk</a></p>
- Sail from Barcelona to Copenhagen on the Nautica
Oceania Cruises has added four new departures this summer with $500 credit per stateroom. The Nautica departs 24th May from Barcelona to Copenhagen, 16 nights from £1349pp (saving £1829 pp). Cruise from Barcelona around the coast of Spain and Portugal, calling into Casablanca, Bruges, Amsterdam and Copenhagen. Prices include all meals, complimentary soft drinks. Excludes flights. Visit <a href="http://www.celebritycruises.co.uk">www.oceaniacruises.com</a></p>
- Go wine tasting on the Celebrity Constellation
Celebrity Cruises Celebrity Constellation has announced a new 12-night cruise departing Southampton on 7 September. It calls at Paris, Bordeaux, Bilbao, Vigo and Porto before returning to Southampton. From £702 pp with meals and entertainment onboard and all cruise taxes/fees. Departs 7 September 2012. Visit <a href="http://www.celebritycruises.co.uk" target="_blank">celebritycruises.co.uk</a>.</p>
- Tour Europe's cities with Royal Caribbean
Royal Caribbean International’s Adventure of the Seas has a new 14-night Mediterranean Cities cruise departing Southampton on 7 July and calling at Malaga, Cannes, Barcelona, Palma de Mallorca, Valencia, Cartagena and Lisbon before arriving into Vigo. From £1,199pp with meals and entertainment and all relevant cruise taxes/fees. Visit <a href="http://www.celebritycruises.co.uk" target="_blank">royalcaribbean.co.uk</a>.</p>
- Get blown away on Carnival Breeze
The Carnival Breeze launches in June with a seven-night Mediterranean cruise featuring a rum bar, cinema, comedy club, nightclub, 10 restaurants including sushi and a Mongolian BBQ station and kids activities. Leave on 19 September stopping at Monaco, Rome, Sardinia, Dubrovnik and Venice before returning to Barcelona. From £889pp full board including return flights from London to Barcelona with British Airways. Visit <a href="http://www.carnivalcruise.co.uk/cruiseship/carnival-cruise-lines/carnival-breeze?sid=12202" target="_blank">carnivalcruise.co.uk</a>.</p>
- Chill out with the family on an Arctic cruise
In August 2012, Quark Expeditions is running its first Arctic family cruise. The Spitsbergen Polar Bear Safari is an eight-day adventure which takes full advantage of the continuous daylight of the Arctic summer to spot and learn about wildlife including polar bears and walrus. With photography workshops and extra activities including Arctic kayaking. Sail on the Akademik Sergey Vavilov from £3420 per adult and £2,430 for children up to 17. Visit <a href="http://www.quarkexpeditions.com" target="_blank">quarkexpeditions.com</a>.</p>
- Pamper yourself on the Thomson Dream
2012 sees Thomson Cruises launch its Platinum Cruise range for the discerning cruiser. Restaurants cabins, bars and spas onboard the Thomson Dream and Thomson Celebration are being completely refurbished. First sailing of the Dream departs on 9 December 2012, departing from Lisbon and sailing to Venezuela, Tobago, Grenada, St Lucia, British Virgin Islands, St Lucia, St Kitts and finishing in Barbados. Prices: 14 nights from £1,599 per person. Visit <a href="http://www.thomson.co.uk/cruise" target="_blank">thomson.co.uk/cruise.</a></p>
- Take to the Baltics on the Adventure of the Seas
Royal Caribbean International’s Adventure of the Seas has a new 12-night Baltic cruise departing Southampton on 31 May and calling at Oslo, Copenhagen, Tallinn, Helsinki with an overnight stay in historic St. Petersburg. From £999pp with meals and entertainment on board and all relevant cruise taxes/fees. Visit <a href="http://www.royalcaribbean.co.uk" target="_blank">royalcaribbean.co.uk</a>.</p>
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