Royal Caribbean Boycotts Rotterdam Shipyard After €1,000,000 Fine?

Three and a-half years ago, I wrote about a large fine leveled against Royal Caribbean for violating labor rules and regulations while the Oasis of the Seas was dry-docked in the Netherlands. Dutch labor inspectors had arrived at the shipyard in Rotterdam and found that numerous employees who were working on the Royal Caribbean cruise ship lacked proper residence papers and worked excessive hours (some up to 16 hours per day).

The Oasis had been undergoing maintenance and repairs while in dry-dock in Rotterdam when 45  inspectors from the Netherlands labor department boarded the ship. The inspectors determined that as many as 124 ship employees were not part of the regular crew and the cruise line should have Keppel Verolme - Oasis of the Seasapplied for work permits for them.

The finding of the Dutch labor inspectors ("arbeidsinspectie") led to a  €1,000,000 fine. This was an unprecedented action by a port state enforcing their local labor regulations against a large cruise company.

I asked at the time that "it remains to be seen whether Rotterdam receives any more work from Royal Caribbean in the future."

Upon notice of the fine, Royal Caribbean quickly decided that the dry-dock repairs needed for its sister ship, the Allure of the Seas, would be performed in Cadiz, Spain. Since then, Royal Caribbean has avoided any maintenance of its ships in Rotterdam. Just last month, Royal Caribbean sent the Brilliance of the Seas from Amsterdam to a shipyard in Hamburg, Germany.  

Royal Caribbean had used the shipyard extensively in the past, including projects like stretching and installing a mid-body section in the Enchantment of the Seas back in 2005. 

The CEO (Kommer Damen) of the shipyard in question (Damen Shipyards, formerly Keppel Verolme), recently criticized the fine in a Dutch newspaper, Maritiemnieuws (auto translate via Google Chrome).  Mr. Damen was interviewed in the Dutch VNO-NCW opinion forum

Mr. Damen essentially stated that the strict enforcement of the labor regulations of the Netherlands caused the shipyard to lose up to "about 1 billion euros" over the past 4 years. Mr. Damen characterized the fine as "simply unwise policy." The opinion piece states that Royal Caribbean allegedly objected to and did not pay the labor fine.

Mr. Damen explained that, in his opinion, it is "entirely customary" for foreign shipowners to deploy their own ship employees ("riding crew"), as opposed to local employees employed by the shipyards, during maintenance projects. But, as Mr. Damen further argues, only the Dutch labor inspectors interpret and enforce the international regulations for labor on board ships in such a way that it is not possible to employ over a hundred ship employees not hired pursuant to the local labor laws. He cites the situation in countries such as Germany or France, where the the local inspectors permit the shipping companies to fly in extra crew for specialized projects taking place at shipyards. 

We originally reported that Royal Caribbean had employed over 100 ship employees (and as many as as 77 Filipinos) to work on the Oasis of the Seas project during the dry-dock in Rotterdam. The cruise line was reportedly working these crew members as long as 16 hours a day (far in excess of the Dutch labor regulations) and likely for a fraction of what would have been paid to Dutch workers.  

But when a labor fine results in lost revenue of a shipyard catering to the multi-million dollar business of a cruise line, its appears that labor inspectors will be forced to look the other way when ship workers work far-more-hours and for far-less-money than permitted by law. 

Have a comment? Please leave a message or join the discussion on our Facebook page where I ask the question: Do you trust the cruise lines and shipyards to look after the labor rights of crew members?

Photo credit: Damen Verolme Rotterdam YouTube - Videoclip - Keppel Verolme dry-docking OASIS OF THE SEAS

Bus Accident in Mexico Kills 12 Cruise Passengers from Celebrity Equinox and Royal Caribbean Serenade of the Seas

Multiple news sources are reporting that at least twelve people died when a bus carrying anywhere from twenty-seven to thirty-one cruise passengers on an excursion to Mayan ruins in eastern Mexico flipped over on a highway earlier today. Additional cruise passengers, with some sources suggesting up to eighteen people, were also injured in the accident.  

The excursion bus was heading from Costa Maya to the ruins at Chacchoben, about 110 miles south of Tulum in the state of Quintana Roo, Mexico. The majority of the passengers were reportedly from the Serenade of the Seas

The photos and videos of the incident show many passengers lying in the road or beside the overturned bus, indicating that many people in the bus may not have been furnished with working seatbelts and they were ejected when the bus overturned. Unfortunately, we have seen this situation in other cruise line excursion bus cases, including those operated on behalf of Royal Caribbean/Celebrity Cruises. 

There have been a large number of excursion bus accidents involving Royal Caribbean and its sister Mexico Excursion Bus Crashcruise line, Celebrity Cruises.

In 2015, Celebrity passengers from the Celebrity Summit were killed and injured in an excursion bus accident in Tortola.

In 2012, there were two cruise excursion bus crashes in Caribbean islands, both involving Royal Caribbean passengers. Royal Caribbean cruise passengers from the Serenade of the Seas were injured during an excursion in St. Thomas. A Royal Caribbean sponsored excursion tour bus crashed in St. Martin and injured passengers from the Freedom of the Seas.

In 2009, a dozen passengers from Celebrity Cruises' Celebrity Summit were seriously injured when an open air excursion vehicle ran off the road in Dominica. We represented passengers against the cruise line and the excursion company in that accident. You can read information on the Dominica excursion accident in an article "Injured Visitors to Dominica Airlifted to Miami."

Cruise lines face legal liability when passengers are injured or killed during sponsored excursions. Cruise lines have a duty to vet the excursions companies and warn of dangers in the road conditions and driving in foreign ports of call. Cruise lines can also be held responsible for negligent hiring and retention of the transportation companies and for vicarious liability based on theories of agency. 

You can search this blog for other discussions of numerous cruise ship excursion bus accidents

Have a comment? Please leave one below or join the discussion on our Facebook page

The Miami Herald quotes our firm in 12 reported dead as tourist bus crashes in Mexico.

December 20, 2017 Update:  A local newspaper in Mexico writes that the local tour company  " . . .  is not the first time that (it) is involved in an accident due to the lack of caution of its operators that drive exceeding the speed limits . . ."  ABC Radio reported the acccount of a passenger who travelled to the same excursion site, saying ... "one of the sides of the bus was 'smashed' after it fell on its side and that the 'whole windshield was gone . . . “The seat belts were tied below the seats, so no one told us to put the seat belts on . . . '”  

A Mexican newspaper quoted the national police that the death toll has increased: "there were 15 deaths, 14 tourists and 1 Mexican guide, 11 died on the spot and 4 on the way to the hospital."

The Washington Post reoports that a Mexican state prosecutor alleges that the deadly bus crash was caused by the driver’s negligence and excessive speed of the bus. 

Photo credit: TV AZTECA (top); Video image -  7 cty youtube (middle); video - AP via Miami Herald (bottom). 

Mexico Royal Caribbean & Celerity Cruises Bus Excusion Accident