A recent article in the California Sunday Magazine provided a one-sided and inaccurate view of Crewmember employment on cruise ships.
The Members of Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), which comprise more than 95% of all ocean-going cruise ships, see Crewmembers as family. A positive cruise experience for guests is dependent upon Crewmembers who are well-trained, well-treated, and find their work to be professionally and personally rewarding.
On average, for every one Crewmember vacancy, a cruise line can receive more than 100 applicants because of the positive opportunities that cruise line employment offers to thousands of professional seafarers around the world. Cruise lines have a high retention rate of Crewmembers, which of course speaks to the satisfaction that Crewmembers have with their work. Generations of family members have worked as Crewmembers because of the financial and professional opportunities afforded by cruise line employment.
CLIA member cruise lines must adhere to the requirements of the International Labor Organization (ILO) and its international Maritime Labour Convention (MLC), both of which set-forth stringent employment standards for all seafarers. The flag of a cruise vessel has no bearing on the vessel owner’s duty to comply with ILO requirements and its MLC convention, as wrongly indicated in the article.
The hiring of Crewmembers for cruise ships is highly competitive. Each cruise line seeks to attract and retain employees through various proprietary and very competitive compensation and benefits packages, which include free room and board and medical care. Seafarers have a range of opportunities to choose among cruise lines the employment package that best meets their personal needs and individual circumstances.
The article restates several false arguments promoted by trial lawyers who seek to broaden opportunities to enrich themselves through lawsuits against cruise lines. One example is the claim that CLIA seeks to prevent Crewmembers from suing in U.S. courts if they claim injury while in U.S. waters. That is false.
CLIA opposes the current practice of permitting a non-U.S. resident seafarer, who claims injury outside the U.S., to automatically be allowed to file suit in the U.S. Non-U.S. resident seafarers should be eligible to seek redress in the U.S. only if the alleged injury occurred in U.S waters or if legal redress is not otherwise available to them in their home country or in the country where the vessel is registered.
More information on the regulation of cruise industry employment of Crewmembers can be found at http://www.cruiseforward.org/accountability/crew.