The cruise lines are at it again.  They are proposing a bill, HR 4005, which will prevent “foreign” cruise ship employees from filing suit in the U.S. for compensation for injuries sustained or bad medical care received on cruise ships.  The proposed legislation includes banning crew members who are injured on cruise ships owned and operated by companies with headquarters here in Miami, like Carnival, Royal Caribbean and NCL.

Who are these workers? They are the state room attendants, waiters, bartenders, and cooks who work 7 days a week for 12 hours a day, all month long. for many months at a time. They live and work on the cruise ships thousands of miles away from home for 6 to 10 months at a time. They are from India, Honduras, Jamaica, Trinidad and Croatia.

Who are these cruise lines? They are multi-billion dollar corporations which are based in the U.S. and whose incomes are derived mostly from U.S. passengers. Over 13 million U.S. citizens take cruises Royal Caribbean Crew Memberevery year. Yet, these companies do not pay U.S. income tax and they do not follow U.S. wage & labor laws or U.S. safety laws.

This proposal discriminates blatantly against crew members around the world. It is also a job killer for the American worker. This bill would guarantee that the cruise lines will never hire U.S. citizens to work onboard their vessels. If non U.S. citizens cannot recover anything in the United States under U.S. law even though the cruise line is negligent, the cruise lines will have a disincentive to hire American workers.

The concept of cutting off a seaman’s right to file suit in the U.S. violates hundreds of years of maritime law.  “Foreign” crew members are the backbone of the cruise industry. This is a xenophobic effort to strike at the heart of the cruise industry by stripping the rights of the heart and soul of the employees who make the cruise ships work. It is unconscionable.  It is also a duplicitous effort, considering that all of the cruise lines are “foreign” corporations, incorporated in countries like Panama (Carnival) or Liberia (Royal Caribbean) and operating cruise ships registered in countries like the Bahamas or Bermuda.

If the cruise lines are not held accountable in U.S. Courts, they will be free to abandon their employees back in countries like India, Jamaica and Honduras when they are injured and need medical care.

There is a risk to the safety and security of cruising if cruise lines are permitted to overwork their crew members, including officers and staff, and not face any economic consequence. An overworked, exhausted and poorly treated crew is a danger to the cruise ship and all aboard.

Cruise CEO’s living here in Miami are making hundreds of millions of dollars over the years by operating businesses based in the U.S. which are “foreign” incorporated and registered. They should not be allowed to discriminate against the “foreign” men and women who sweat all day on cruise ships sailing in and out of U.S. ports and are injured.

  • John Goldsmith

    Good day Jim,
    How is it that a corporation NOT registered in the United States,Propose a bill to be presented to governing bodies of the United States?
    How is it possible that an off shore corporation, which as you state, pays no Taxes to the U.S. Government, have to clout to propose such a bill?
    Has anyone out there have an answer?

  • Brian Bradford

    Hi there.

    you could try for compensation in the UK Admiralty Court London. That is where the cruise lines take action in secret court. NO MATTER WHAT NATIONALITY YOU ARE.

    But who has the money to compete with corporate power. If you complain forget about working ever again. That is the secret of corporate success.

  • Bob Mac


    Are you concerned about seafarers rights or the effect on your own bottom line? As a seafarer of over 40 years experience I can state with a high degree of certainty that no one but no one is ever on the seafarers side least of all Lawyers.

  • I think the couching of this issue in the Coast Guard Appropriation bill is what I find most interesting. Things like these are hidden in the minutia of bill to fund the coast guard when the expressed purview of the coast guard is only valid when in US waters. When leaving US waters the law then allows the cruise line to limit the amount of damages for a life lost to 10 times the wages lost is absolutely absurd. But lets not forget that no US nationals are allowed to take these jobs, So if I’m a steward that make 50$ per week or 200 per month. If I were killed in the line of duty as room steward right now my family could sue for wrongful death and if successful the most they could get is 20K$. If this law takes effect they would get nothing? All of this From Duncan Hunter of CA. This guy is all about war spending and family values. Why isn’t it a Cruise connected congressman from FL?

  • Sorry “Bob Mac” that you have dealt with such shitty lawyers.

  • BiancaBianca Nieken

    What kind of man uses law to his advantage to avoid taxes; hires other nationals to work for a pittance for months at a time; then takes advantage of their alien status to deny them medical benefits? This bill is disgraceful and I hope for the sake of the already poor workers, that it does not pass!

  • sean

    as a crew member i can say that these companies enslave it’s employees, under pays us and so much more.and worst they get the praised for our hard work!!! sometimes or even most times work up to 14 hours plus a day and they still cut off your overtime. and when (USPH) inspection approaches you can see alot of sleep walking seamen.