Housekeepers on cruise ships make around $40 a day working 12-hour days on average. They get zero days off for the duration of their contract of 6, 8 or 10 months. That’s right, zero days off, 12 hour days, and no visits from family or friends. You think your 10-hour a day job is hard? Please, reconsider and think again.
What’s even more impressive than working for only $40 a day is the service staff’s positive attitude. For 12 days and 12 nights, never was I greeted in a less-than-happy manner. Whether I was asking for directions to the theater or requesting the New York Times in the morning, the service staff were always eager to serve.
The entire service staff was from either Indonesia or the Philippines. Hence, $40 a day might be equivalent to $200 a day back in America or Europe based on purchasing power parity. Furthermore, after working for 300 days straight with not one weekend off, one could theoretically accumulate $12,000 US dollars + a bonus, equaling roughly $50-60,000 dollars of buying power back home. Not bad at all!
The service staff I spoke to said that they send roughly 80% of their pay back to their families. Their expenses are little because they all get free room (two to a room) and board. A couple of them had the option of doing 6 month contracts, but insisted on 10 month contracts as they wanted to work more and make more. They wanted to take full advantage of their opportunity.
I asked whether it was easy or hard to get a job on the cruise ship, and they said, “not hard.” You just have to apply, and go through the training. “Always be positive”, they told me. Sounds pretty straightforward to me.
DON’T BE AFRAID
During one of our last buffet luncheons, our waitress from a different restaurant came by to say hello. I learned she was on a 10-month contract and wasn’t heading back from another 7 months. Her service was excellent and she asked if I was on online – if only she knew how much. We exchanged details, and at the end, she asked whether I could fill out the cruise-end survey. “Of course I will,” I told her.
What takes me 5 minutes could help make someone more money and achieve a promotion. In the survey I wrote, “Angely Siregar is excellent. She was attentive to our needs at Tamarind Restaurant where we dined for dinner and has a very positive attitude. Please take good care of her and consider her for any promotions.” I knew her full name because she took the time to say hello.
The Cruise Director started off as a drummer, while the Tamarind Restaurant manager started off as a bus boy. Through positive feedback from clients, management recognized them. Sometimes, you will be so good that clients will recognize you independently. But, often times, clients won’t know your name or provide specific details. Sometimes, they won’t even bother filling out the survey.
Just because Angely had the wherewithal to strike up a conversation and ask, she got my vote and then some. Everything is relative, and if there aren’t laudatory comments on her co-worker’s forms, she’s moving ahead.
THE WORK PLACE IS THE SAME
Nobody likes to play office politics, but I firmly believe it is a must. My mantra is that you must sell yourself internally as much as you sell yourself externally to clients. When it comes time for pay raises, promotions, and layoffs, who are you going to take care of if you are in your manager’s shoes: 1) The loyal employee who makes you look good and is always participating in team-building events, or 2) The loyal employee who is largely invisible at all company functions?
Managers won’t tell you this, but when it comes to firing people, they have a list and circle the people they don’t know well. They could be excellent performers, but if the manager doesn’t know the name of your husband, children, wife, etc… or has never seen you participate in a charity event the firm is hosting, you will undoubtedly be the first person to go, even if you are a slightly better performer. People take care of their friends, and when their friends become family, they certainly never let their family down.
Never be afraid of asking what you want when you feel 100% certain it is what you deserve. People want to reward people for a job well done and all you have to do is communicate your proof. You can’t expect your manager or clients to remember every single detail about what you’ve done. It’s up to you to highlight your achievements during mid-year, or year-end, and fight for yourself in a tasteful way.
You know that after building up all that goodwill throughout the year, you need to cash in. People don’t not promote or pay you because they are nasty. They don’t recognize you because they’ve either forgotten, or they’re busy worrying about their own situation! Help your managers remember, and at the same time, help others who’ve provided you with excellence service by filling out them forms.
Start your own business: If you feel you’re not getting paid what you’re worth, start your own business online on the side! It used to cost a fortune and a lot of employees to start your business. Now you can start it for next to nothing with a hosting company like Bluehost for under $4/month and they’ll give you a free domain for a year to boot.
Brand yourself online, connect with like-minded people, find new consulting gigs, and potentially make a good amount of income online one day by selling your product or recommending other great products. Not a day goes by where I’m not thankful for starting Financial Samurai in 2009.
Updated for 2017 and beyond.