“Paisano promotes Paisano” Is this a common practice on cruise ships?

May 10, 2019

The crew members who work hard, execute their duties and responsibilities flawlessly, and as the cruise lines love to say “Going above and beyond guests expectations” are often promoted to higher positions. In theory, this is the only way to get promoted with more responsibilities, but also more money on the paycheck. However many crew members say that there are other ways for some crew to get promoted.

Every cruise line provides an opportunity for their employees to build a career, but the procedure and requirements for receiving a promotion depend on your evaluation by your direct supervisor. Apparently, it is much easier to get a promotion if your supervisor or other high ranking manager is from the same country as you are, or as we say on the ships Paisano. This is not something new in the cruise industry, but many crew members say that this practice has gone too far.

“I have seen several cases of people getting promotion in positions on the ship. The most common is "Paisano promotes Paisano". As I was the only one of my nationality on board, I could not have early promotion and I had to wait years while some of my managers considered their paisanos first. I have also seen people climb positions with very obvious situations. Once a very pretty young woman came to the ship. She started as a busgirl and worked on a side stand next to mine. I remember that I helped her a lot and gave her advice about work. She learned from her coach and from my help as well. Weeks later, the young lady began to have a relationship with a rank officer. From one day to the next, from being my colleague busgirl, she became almost my boss, because her lover made her ascend to a post with official rank. It is when you feel that effort or merit is not worth the influences and relationships that a person may have. A very large fault in the companies because they make a person with good performance begin to lose motivation and thus not take into account the good work in customer service.” Says one former crew member.

Another crew member says that there are company protocols that need to be followed but they are bypassed by the shipboard management “Paisano is very popular onboard cruise ship or there is another one Tit for tat. Working on more than 15 years in the cruise industry I have seen some people climbing the ladder of success not because they are capable or top of the job but due to Paisano business , mostly when there are few people who are on top of the management line and they see few countrymen in lower position they try to cut the line of others and promote their own countrymen ,though the company has policies called gap pool or pipeline etc that looks good on paper when someone is promoted evading that protocol. The company has put strict protocol and policies but it looks good on papers or video clips when things are bypassed by management itself. In this situation, an honest hard-working crew gets demotivated as working hard for years can't achieve nothing due to Paisano business onboard cruise ships.”

Another crew member has sent us his story saying “The reason that I’m writing to you is to voice a concern that has not only been bothering me but also my fellow teammates that are working with me in my very department. Fear of losing the job or harassment from supervisors have been keeping their mouths shut is what I would like to believe.

I have worked in the housekeeping department for 5 years and held positions from a Utility hotel up till the position of a head cleaner (supervisor)

This has been not a recent issue among the housekeeping crew members but its been happening over many years. And I believe that none have had the courage to get this issue up publicly.

The majority of the department consists of crew members coming from one nation, ranging from the top level (managerial) to the lower (crew members).

This has led to many disputes among the other nationalities. Mainly being the reasons that Paisanos are given first preference regardless of their number of contracts and job experience.

Crew members of any other nationalities who have had the experience, knowledge, and know-how of the job, has been held back only to offer help for their paisanos.

This has been happening all throughout Cruise Line’s existence. And why won’t it?

The fleet executive with her team of paisano executives is the one to push this. Every now and then she is on for ship visits and would suggest in a daily briefing to the crew members that they are to prove themselves worthy for the positions available to grow. Crew members work 8 months a contract. Managers and executives work 4-6 months a contract. The fleet that strolls these ships is around for barely a month.

So the question here is who are we to prove our worth? The constantly change departmental heads?

On my 5th contract, I was assigned as a courtyard Utility. Once again being the show run by the majority paisanos from the same country. I worked in the haven for over 7 months and was even trained for the next position of a courtyard Valet, the position was given to a 1st timer who barely knew the job and had to be assisted on everything asked of him to do. Why? Just because he was the son of the laundry master (November 2018 - 8th December 2018). He barely knew how to speak English. So being a major in English was assisting him in speaking or rather communicating with the VIP guests.

Supervisors assigned to such levels of guest need to be well trained too. And not only be picked over doing well in their previous position (room steward) there is a job difference. Responsibilities and execution levels are different. But once again being a paisano running show, the well-experienced supervisors get taken down to replace them with some crew members who know nothing about the duties and workflow of the place.

A shout out to the Board of Directors, if there is nothing one could do about this issue that the team members face, then here let me suggest you some:

  • - look into crew member concerns more deeply.
  • - Diversify the housekeeping management among different nationalities.
  • - Get the management to keep checks and tracks of team member’s previous achievements and act on it.
  • - Train supervisors for the assigned jobs and positions once promoted, descriptively."
  • Are you a crew member? Do you have a story to share? Please send us an email here.