Ten days ago, the Costa Fascinosa was hit by 90 knot winds after the cruise ship left Venice. The captain failed to give any warnings to the passengers and crew members before the storm struck. The cruise ship listed heavily and plates and glasses crashed to the decks and floors throughout the galleys and bars on the ship. Passengers experienced widespread panic.
A Filipino pastry chef working aboard the Fascinosa posted his accounts of the storm on Facebook and included photographs and video of considerable damage in the galley where he worked.
Other crew members shared his account on Facebook. Several Italian newspapers published his photos and video accounts. Cruise bloggers (such as Cruise Fever, Cruise Hive, Cruise Currents, etc.) also recounted the story and included his images of the mishap in their publications. We were the first blogger here in the U.S. to link to the crew member’s Facebook posts and to cover the story of the violent storm and the Costa officers’ poor response to the incident.
Costa issued a press release, downplaying the incident, after the photos and video were widely distributed on the internet. You can still see the video below, via the Cruise Fever website.
Today, we learned that Costa terminated the pastry chef’s employment for mentioning the incident on Facebook. Costa flew the crew member back to the Philippines where he remains currently jobless, unable to support his family.
This is how Costa and parent company, Carnival Corporation, treat their employees. Embarrassed by the scene of a thousand plates and covers on the galley floor, Costa retaliated against the chef for simply recording what happened and saying it was the most terrifying experience of his life. Meanwhile, the Costa captain remains at the helm.
Concordia-plagued Costa has a culture of cover-ups.
When the Costa Europa slammed into a pier in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, ripping a hole in the ship’s hull and killing three crew members, Costa was tight lipped. It didn’t mention the casualties until photographs were leaked to the press in the U.K. Neither Costa nor flag state Italy refuse to release reports on the deadly accident to this day.
This is business as usual for Costa’s owner, Carnival Corporation. Carnival terminated and black-balled 150 Indian waiters who quietly protested low pay when the P&O Arcadia cruise ship was in Seattle. The captain promised that there would be no reprisals if the crew members would return to the ship and wait on the guests. But Carnival quickly fired them all and made certain that the hiring agency would never consider rehiring the men on another Carnival owned cruise line.
We have seen the same vindictive, retaliatory conduct by other cruise lines.
When the MSC Magnifica smashed into a pier at the entrance to the port in Piraeus Greece, the cruise line issued a statement claiming that the damage was minor and that the vessel’s itinerary was not affected. However, a crew member photographed widespread damage to the ship and extensive repairs needed to repair a large hole in the hull which delayed the ship’s departure. After the photos appeared on Facebook, MSC quickly terminated the crew member’s employment for releasing the photos.
The cruise lines rely on carefully crafted images of idyllic vacations at sea. But when crew members complain about unsafe conditions or merely take photographs showing the truth of the matter, the company views them as expendable.
Like Vegas, what happens on the ships is supposed to stay on the ships. It’s an unwritten rule that a crew member who airs the cruise line’s dirty laundry risks immediate termination and a one-way ticket back to Manila.
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