So my group didn't want to spend the 50 GP at all to recruit people. They tried to talk some of the passengers on but the checks failed.
There are some passenger that are willing to come aboard without paying the fees so those were the ones I picked.
As for the drama event, if you have multiple angles try to have them all going and see which the party bites at. I had 2 different drama events but only one the players actually "fell for" and caught themselves in a dangerous situation.
I forget who suggested it, but someone had the great idea of dropping the whole "You work for lastminutebooking.com now" angle altogether, and having his group hijack an airship in order to reinforce the Outlaws theme.
I got the distinct impression that the only reason you are recruiting passengers at all is too add more suspects/red herrings to the sabotage plot that follows. I planned to fix this by having one of Mugland's agents stowaway on the ship.