Today I received a telephone call and two emails from crew members from Trinidad, India and Nicaragua.
Their stories all sounded the same.
They worked on cruise ships as a waiter or assistant waiter until they suffered back, shoulder or wrist injuries. After being sent home, they had to call and email the cruise line repeatedly before a medical appointment was finally scheduled. They received only $12 a day for living expenses. And their "case managers" - the employees at the cruise line responsible for arranging their medical treatment - would never return their e-mails.
Halfway through their stories, I would interrupt them with the question: "So you worked for Royal Caribbean?"
Right now this particular cruise line has embarked on a purge of removing ill crew members from its "sick lists" and slashing the medical treatment and daily stipend provided to the ship employees.
We have addressed this problem in prior blog articles - Cruise Ship Medical Care - Royal Caribbean Gives Their Crew Members the Royal Shaft and "Titanic Dreams" - Royal Caribbean Wins "Worst Cruise Line in the World" Award.
Royal Caribbean requires its waiters and assistant waiters to carry trays weighing up to 50 lbs. The waiters work over 12 hours a days, 7 days a weeks, carrying the trays over their shoulders. The result is a rash of neck, shoulder, wrist and back injuries due to the repetitive heavy load and strain.
Once their bodies are broken, the crew members are of little use to the cruise line. Royal Caribbean sends them back to their home countries, where they are neglected and then abandoned.
The extreme cost cutting measures are the result of this particular cruise line being caught between the dream of having the most ostentatious cruise ships in the world (the Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas), and the reality of being unable to even sell out the Oasis of the Seas for its inaugural cruise.
For every ten inquiries we receive from injured crew members - like Trinidadian crew members Mr. Ambris (above) and Ms. Villafana (to the right) - nine are former Royal Caribbean crew members.
Once all of the hoopla over the arrival of the Oasis of the Seas dies down, will Royal Caribbean shift its focus back to the welfare of its hard-working crew members? Or will receiving emails and calls from Royal Caribbean crew members continue to be a daily occurrence?