American Cruise Line 3rd mate pay

I’ve always hear bad things about working for a cruise liner, however, I would like to do it. I’d like to work on ACL’s river cruise ships either on the Missisippi River or the PNW/Alaska. Does anyone have information on the pay scale for a 3rd mate with an unlimited license. They seem to always be hiring which can indicate a poor work environment/under compensation, but I would like to do it for a little while. Thanks in advance!

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Interviewed with them like 6-7 years ago and I remember it being absolutely atrocious, like $285 a day or something. I’m sure it’s gone up but I can imagine it’s much higher. Let us know if you get a different number!

Thats crazy, they told me $125 a day in 2018. Ive heard nothing but bad things about ACL, absolutely a shitshow.


For a mates spot??!!

It may have been junor mate, but i said “thank you for your time” and never talked to them again after he said 125. They dont even require a MMC to work there as a deckhand, so lots of dangeous riff raff shit going on. Only company ive ever seen have a dedicated recruiting add campaign.


Have you consider looking at Glassdoor for ACL mate salary review.

If you don’t get any creditable information or transparency on your question, consider that overnight seasonal Small Passenger Vessel recruiting period has just started.

HR departments may recruit on job websites like It is possible they will reveal their wage scales based on individual job descriptions.

Also, I recommend looking at the wages of other company’s having similar operations. A comparison is always a good thing to know.

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Buddy of mine interviewed for them years ago and said it was around the same. He wanted to get up and walk out but the woman conducting the interview was so hot he stayed just to talk to her for a little longer.

But yeah, he said it amounted to being a bellhop with a license. He was expected to assist with carrying luggage and told part of his wages were tips.


AB here, currently taking classes and studying for 3M. In late 2021 I was bored and decided to apply to ACL because why not, and I always like to keep my interviewing skills brushed up. I applied as a Junior Mate as I have a 100NC and then in the interview I was told I could have applied for the (at the time of applying unposted) Mate position. This is what I wrote about it:

Pretty basic questions over Zoom, background and work experience. Then interviewer told me what was required of the position - 6 weeks on, 2 weeks off(unpaid he thought, he wasn’t sure), 12hr days/ 7 days a week (normal stuff if you have any maritime background), travel paid, “only expenses would be personal toiletries, room and board would be covered,” 2-4 people in a dorm style room (again not out of ordinary for maritime jobs), no visible tattoos (face/neck I understand, good luck trying to find folks with no tattoos on their arms).

Then came the fun part, benefits and compensation. Of course ACL advertises themselves as “competitive pay,” every job that doesn’t actually offer decent pay seems to think their offer is competitive, and ACL is no different. After 60 days they have a couple medical plans through Anthem to choose from (but again, you are only working for them 12ish weeks, so is it worth the hassle of signing up for a medical plan if it only is available for a month or so before the season ends?), and after a year you can join their 401k where they match 4% if you contribute 5%. Eh not bad not great, but again, you have to work another season with them if you want to get the 401k or come back to your insurance plan. I’m not sure how that works.

Then pay. I have a 100ton captain’s license, and they require 25-100ton licenses to work as Junior Mate, and Mates are required to have at least a 100ton, so I could have apparently applied for the Mate position if I wanted. Luckily the interviewer spoke about the Mate position as well. $180 for Junior Mate is, laughable and obscene in 2022 in this industry. $250 for a Mate is as well. No overtime, it’s a dayrate, which isn’t the extraordinary part, but that they think it’s competitive.

Ten years ago as unlicensed mate I was making $13/hr ($180/12hrs is $15/hr), and got to go home at night and have days off. Now for $15/hr I can work at the grocery store two blocks away. I was planning on originally asking why there’s so many open positions but now I know why. I’ve never laughed at an interviewer before, but I couldn’t help it and told him it was obscene.

How on earth ACL thinks people are going to want to jump at the chance to work for them astounds me; if they have any kind of license and experience they would know better. I have job offers coming out of my ears that pay better for less work and a better rotation, and anyone that spends ten minutes on Gcaptain or Facebook could find the same. ACL seems to think that “free room and board” is a good deal when they’re paying you NO OVERTIME and crappy pay. Every maritime job I have had includes free room and board because no one would do it otherwise.

Figure out how to actually take care of your employees, ACL. You’re charging $2500-$30,000 a person for these cruises, the least you can do is pay your employee better than McDonald’s since they are the ones taking care of your multi-million dollar fleets and paying guests.

If you really want to work on a small cruise ship in the NW check out Uncruise or Alaskan Dream Cruises. The pay is a bit better ($300+ if I remember correctly), and at least are trying.

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I worked for ACL as a mate, briefly, 15 years ago. Pay was $120/day, benefits were more or less the same as Puck said. The mates are mostly the cleaner sort of hs grads without trades employment and used to low paying work. You know the type, age 30, working for $12 an hour at a car rental agency, decent people skills… and a 100 ton.
The deckhands are generally college kids and work for 12 weeks and entirely trained, good or bad, by the captain and mate.
I enjoyed being left alone on the bridge because between 0600-2000 90% of the time I was fixing toilets or unclogging algae plugs from the RSW system that cooled the walk-in fridges.

Wow! I was considering this as a retirement job but not after reading this thread!

My experience with ACL was somewhat different. I will qualify that by saying I worked as a Captain and did not bother to ask or know how others were compensated. I was treated with respect and decency throughout my time there. Compensated fairly and always felt that I was valued as a Captain. Management was fair and forthcoming and honest. I’ve worked many places in multiple trades where none of the above existed. They promote from within the Company and have at least one Captain I know started there as a deckhand. If money is all you seek they are not the place to work. Pretty nice place to begin a career, is my opinion. My first license was issued in 1972 so yeah I’m an old Boomer that knows how bad it can be.

What was the pay? When?

700 a day wife welcome when ever I was at work.

Sent w/m iPhone

Captain Ed R. Utterback AFNI

2023 sailing season.

Sent w/m iPhone

Captain Ed R. Utterback AFNI

To be honest, with pay like that, it’s a miracle their ships ever get underway. Reminiscent of young aspiring airline pilots who will go into the poorhouse to be able to pursue their trade.

Also the bit about “free room and board” being a perk to them is inexplicable.


It’s not inexplicable, it is the result of having management that knows nothing about the maritime industry, history, or heritage. They are brokers, MBAs, “hospitality” grads and general bean counters. I wonder what they would say if someone refused the “free room and board” and said they would bring a sleeping bag and MREs and take the cash equivalent instead.


The owners are the same folks who own and run Chesapeake shipyard.They build all their own equipment. I’ve never heard of them missing a sailing for want of crew, so it obviously works for them.

Thanks for the reply.

They have an entire team on Instagram dedicated to recruiting, and their own “school” where they train you from what Ive gathered. And with the upmost respect to the women sailing with ACL, I know they pay the pretty girls more to talk about working for ACL on their social media. (Get that bag, I would too). Given the size of licenses required and the lack of need for any documents on the Unlicensed side, its not that hard to attract enough bodies to tie up and let go.

No disrespect for ACL.There are much,much better opportunities out there. They do what they do. Then again, one life long car salesman friend told me decades ago “There is an ass for every seat”…I never bought a car from him,nor forgot that phrase…We were great pals…