SeafarerThe Manila Bulletin reports that Royal Caribbean announced yesterday that it is "hiring a total of 30,000 Filipino crew members over the next five years" as the company "expands its fleet and routes to Asia."

The newspaper also states that the cruise line currently employees around 11,000 Filipinos as crew members.

Filipinos seafarers have a proud tradition of working at sea. Unfortunately, Filipinos have perhaps the fewest legal rights of any crew member working for a cruise line. That’s because the cruise industry is enforcing arbitration which requires them to pursue their claims in Manila pursuant to the Philippines Overseas Employment Agreement (POEA) which places a cap on their damages when they are injured during their work.   

The compensation is ridiculously low. For example, a Filipino crew member employed on a bulk carrier as a senior engine fitter received sustained serious burns of his abdomen and legs when scalding water overflowed a tank. The crew member underwent extensive and painful medical treatment in the burn units of West Jefferson Medical Center and Baton Rouge General Medical Center in Louisiana, U.S.A.

The Filipino underwent skin grafting burns of 35% of his body.

He thereafter was returned to the Philippines where he continued undergoing medical treatment at a number of hospitals and with a number of doctors who performed plastic surgery. He is now unemployed, disabled and scarred for life.

He filed suit in state court in Jefferson Parish where the accident occurred, but his case was dismissed and he was ordered to proceed with arbitration in the Philippines.

The shipping company argued that the case was controlled totally by Philippine law and the crew member had no rights whatsoever under U.S. law. The company argued that under the Philippines Overseas Employment agreement (POEA), the crew member suffered a grade 14 disability which would entitle him to only 3.74% of USD $50,000 or a total award of $1,870.00 (US).

The Filipino Labor Board agreed and awarded the crew member just $1,870. You can read about the case here

When Filipinos are killed at seas due to the negligence of the cruise line, the POEA has a cap of only $50,000.  

If Royal Caribbean hires some 30,000 Filipinos over the years, it will save many millions of dollars by sending them back to Manila when they are injured and forcing them to accept the limited compensation under the POEA.

Photo Credit: By Maxime Felder – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0 / Wikimedia

  • Tim

    The Philipinos, are some the best Crew, I’ve encountered on my 17 times aboard RCL Ships. It’s a Damn shame they are abused like this. Just notice next time you cruise, who your Cabin Steward, wait staff and deck hands are. The majority are from the Philippines. But also notice how many Philipinos Officers you encounter. Not many.

  • michelle

    sad but true. i work for carnival cruise line. since nov 2013 they have removed our retirement benefits. all other nationalities still receives the retirement benefit until now but us. they said it is also because of poea. i find this discriminating. we work as much as the other nationalities but we do not get benefits like them

  • Michael

    So, what else is new with these (American) cruise lines?

    Greed through net profits with a total disregard for their crew, ground staff, the travel agent community and their “loyal” cruise guests.

    The shareholders don’t care much about this mis-treatment because of the capital gains they are awarded. Talk about social investing.

  • Jayson tolentino

    Hi maam/sir i was curios about the newsthis evening can i apply here?

  • Pamela Krohn

    HORRIBLE! Americans need to speak up for these abused hard workers and defend their rights. What is wrong with cruisers? Should we boycott?

  • Allan Horner

    Business is business. I worked 30 years for a large corporation in the United States. During that 30 years, they eliminated retirement (we still got a 401K), they went from paying for health care to making us pay for it and so on. We lost ALOT of benefits. We had the same choice that the Filipino workers have – Take it or leave it. I am not going to stop cruising for the same reason I won’t stop eating or shopping at Walmart. While I know poor people in foreign countries make all this possible, I don’t want to double the cost just to be fair. Sorry.

  • Maria
  • Marian arce

    Where is located the apply pls. Reply thanks

  • ConsumerRep

    Is disability insurance unavailable in the Philippines? Seems that if I worked in a dangerous environment I would have a good policy in place.


    where can we possibly inquire for this opportunity? I’m from philippines. thank you.

  • Ryan

    Filipinos dont know a shit about mechnanic .

    They are engineering ignorant, all the ones I found, were good workers but a real danger in a ship.

    If you hire them you make a big mistake, but that its your problem.It may cost you millions of dollars…

  • Mga

    I just want to inquire coz my husband had a heart bypass operation last january 2016 do you know what his rights when it comes to claims?

  • Ritchelle S.Adalla

    Goodnoon..just wanna know if where can Iapply a work in your company through online…I’m from Philippines…