Crew Member Rights - Cruise ShipOur law firm receives anywhere from a dozen to several dozen e-mails a day from people complaining about every imaginable problem on the high seas. 

We divide the complaints into two general categories – complaints by passengers and complaints by crew members.

Cruise passengers complain about all types of things, like the food was bad, they missed a port of call because of bad weather, the cabins next to them were too loud, the service was bad, or they object to automatic gratuities being deducted from their accounts.  It drives me crazy. 

Yes, there are legitimate complaints too, like being seriously injured or being a victim of a crime during a cruise. But the petty "I-was-inconvenienced-and-I-want-a-free-cruise" complainers out number the legitimately injured by 10 to 1.

Crew members, on the other hand, are a different breed. They are inconvenienced every day. That goes without saying. Long hours, low pay, shrinking tips and having to deal with whiny guests are just a normal day at sea.  Who are they going to complain to anyway? There are no true unions. There are no legitimate maritime oversight bodies that can do anything. And if they complain about the hard work or excessive hours or minimal pay to their supervisors, they are likely to be fired.

And the true seafarers working on tankers, bulk carriers and large freighters?  They are the bravest of the brave. Subject to the hazards of the sea, the largely Indian and Filipino seafarers are the backbone of the maritime community.

So when you come home from a cruise vacation and are about to write a harsh review to Cruise Critic and bitch & whine about the crew members, keep in mind that your worst cruise is probably better than the best day a crew member may experience on the same ship.           

Video Credit: Seafarers Facebook page


  • Jose


    Thank you thank you thank you for putting all out there, in all fairness the contractual conditions is not the passengers fault, but the internathaional bodies that govern seafearers, they and goverments should protect all those people sacrificing their lives for their families. On the other hands, i do believe there are some bad crew members out there, but the kind of deal and attention you get on a cruise ship… come on!

    A passgener never complains on the same way on a hotel that on a cruiseship, if they did, they’d get kicked out of the hotel in no time.

    They are pampered for less than $100 dls a day, they eat like pigs, tour tkts are expensive sure, but nowadays nobody goes even ashore

    So yes, stop whining and shut up

  • Where’s the Costa Concordia Captain…

    Where’s the Costa Concordia Captain when you need him? This crew looks like they need someone to show them how to ‘trip and fall’ into a lifeboat! Hope they all made it out safely.

  • kinetic

    Working as a tech, I rarely had to deal with customers except for the passing Hello’s. Except for once and I was amazed.

    One day though, we had US Immigration come on board to sign off the passengers. One particular gentleman bailed me up and aggressively stated “It’s ridiculous to have us wait so long! As a manager you should do something about this!”

    I explained that we’re offering the department the venue to do it on board so that they don’t have to do it out in the crowded terminal, and they still have access to the onboard services while they wait.

    Suggestion a Venue Manager should front up to US Immigration with advice about their throughput? Genius!

  • Lori

    I guess it all depends on the contractual agreement you, either as a passenger or an employee, enter into with the cruise ship industry as to what is expected.

    What I have witnessed time and time again, is frustration escalating from the lack of communication or complete indifference at the service desk. And seriously no one would be asked to leave a hotel. If a guest is truly unhappy they up and leave whereas at when you are at sea the consumer, the person paying for the service does not have that option.

    The employees sign on for what four months at a time? They are not indentured servants. If the work conditions were that terrible all the time you would never come across an employee that has renewed their contract and there are many more that do than not.
    Everyone has bad days at work. Including you apparently but just like everyone else you’ve got to move a lot of rock to find your gem.

    Ignorance of ones action was forgivable only once and that was in Biblical times.

  • tinikini

    I have been on two cruises in the past three years. The crew works there azzes of for everyone….night and day. I own a business, and I am married to it, but these employees work far harder than I ever had. I would have loved to take several crew members home with me to help me run my business.

    I watched passengers abuse the crew and it makes me sick. Probably 90% of the passengers on the ship could not walk a mile in the crew’s shoes. Boohoo if you missed a port, or the food was bad. Get over yourselves nothing is perfect in life and when you whine like that it makes all of us look bad.

    The more I read, the more I do not want to cruise anymore, although my husband and I love it. If I can stay out of Walmart because they treat their employees like shyt….then I can certainly stay off a cruise ship!!

    Thanks Jim….I just love this site and all of the info that you provide us. Keep up the good work!!!

  • xyz

    They complain hoping for some freebie like a wine bottle, fruit basket complimentary dinners…little realizing that it will negatively affect the concerned crew. In simple words the people who complain don’t care, all they want is a freebie. Following is a list from one of Carnival brands

    1. It’s was not a good day because it was raining…the captain should be sacked. When it is sunny…Oh it was very hot.

    2. I’ve been here before so I wont be going ashore

    3. People will come everyday for dinner and when asked will say that everything was excellent and on the last day will go to the reception saying they want to remove auto tips and instead directly give it to the waiter …but on the last day its no show.

  • Romero

    Cruise Law…

    Think about 10 years ago.. and before… The rudeness of many managers and hotel directors… supervisors..
    The discrimination based on stereotypes of every nation but USA, UK, Canada. If you are not from the “developed world” you were and still are discriminated.

    You have no idea what is daily “MORAL HARASSMENT”!
    During some meeting regarding how afraid the ship’s managers and “the office” were afraid of USPH. The F&B supervisors used to call us “THALIBAN”, just because we are from that side of the planet… many times we were called like that.

    Most of you have no idea how hard it is to wash 800 plates, clean floors, chemical machines without a single glove in a 14 hours shift.

    The recruiting agent never offer managing position to some other countires so the Shorex Manager is 99% from that country, the spa manager is always from that other coutry and so on…
    Yes, you may say.. we signed for that. No, we signed for what a smiling recruiting agent showed us how life onboard would be like. And we own money to them.
    🙂 I left Carnival Cruise Lines and continued my studies. I am free now.

    P.S. I met all kind of guest too. The wonderful ones and their families are my good friends now. Many crewmenbers too.
    But the bad stuff… it probably flows from the Miami office to the ships.. they dont care.
    So many injustices.