A number of newspapers are reporting that an explosion on board the Emerald Princess cruise ship claimed the life of a Princess crew member at a port in New Zealand earlier this week.

The incident occurred when crew members were reportedly using a cannister of nitrogen, for deploying a lifeboat, on one of the decks near the stern of the cruise ship.

A passenger on the ship was quoted in an Australian newspaper saying that “There was an explosion, it was pretty loud … all I saw then was the gas bottle spinning on the (wharf).”

Filipino Crew Member Killed Emerald PrincessA photograph (right) posted on Twitter shows a large cylinder, which killed the crew member, lying on the wharf near the Princess cruise ship. 

What has not been widely reported is that the deceased crew member was a young Filipino man, married with two young children. 

The Filipino’s death comes just a couple of days after Lizzie Presser’s insightful article about the plight of crew members from the Philippines working on cruise ships was published. Titled Below Deck – Filipinos make up nearly a third of all cruise ship workers. It’s a good job. Until it isn’t, the article explains how young men from the Philippines who go to sea on cruise ships to seek better lives for their families, face 12 hour work days for up to 10 months at a time and are prohibited from filing lawsuits in the U.S. They are subject to a draconian scheme of minimal compensation if injured on the job. If they are killed though the negligence of the U.S. based cruise line, their families receive a maximum pay-out of only $50,000 and only $7,500 per child.

The article quoted Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut as saying "if cruise lines know their workers are kept from holding them accountable in court, they’ll have little incentive to provide them with a safe work environment.”

I was alerted of the death when a concerned passenger on the Princess cruise ship first alerted me to the tragedy:

"I’m currently on board the Emerald Princess at Dunedin. I was on board at the time the explosion happened that killed the crew member. He was a Filipino 33 yr old father of two small kids. I’ve been absolutely appalled to learn from crew (over 80% on this current cruise are Filipino) about their employment conditions. This entire industry seems to profit from the exploitation of workers from developing countries. And here we are with someone killed while doing their job on board."

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Photo credit: Twitter via Express newspaper.

  • Jean Roger

    Yes its indeed a horrible workplace, I did 1 cruise, being European was a advantage, but the majority of people working are Philippines and Indian, some other Asian countries to fill up the rest. Most are subjected to insults and abuse and it was hurting me how the whole operation is conducted, 10 to 14 hours work, no day’s off and that for up to 9 months at minimum wages. I was suffering of a injury and cut my contract short cause nothing was being done for my health or wellbeing, they just expected me to perform as normal with the injury, its an abusive industry and only concerned in pocketing money, so people at the top can buy large dwellings and expensive supercars or whatever.
    I did not see much humanity from over 90% of the crew aboard, al think they special and more than someone else, cause it is and always be a rash environment to be working in, does not mean it has to be conducted with a sense of denial to the fellow crew members.
    I thought slavery was abandoned in 1873 but on the high sea there is still a lot of that showing.


    Jean Roger LAMOOT

  • Simple Sailor

    The whole Maritime Industry is the same in fact those on Cruise Ships are the lucky ones. The Flag of Convenience system that is the root cause of abuse was first devised by the American Oil Majors in the years immediately after WW2 to reduce the operating costs involved with using US & other “traditional” Registeries. Most of the rest of the Maritime Industry followed suit in the late 70’s/early 80’s. So every time any of you “Bleeding Hearts” puts “Fair Trade” food on their table or buys cheap imported Electronics or White Goods spare a thought for those who brought them to you at a price you can afford. It’s not only the Arisons Fains and Donald’s of this World who benefit.

  • I would like to see more American workers hired. It is wrong for cruise lines to exploit foriegn workers. This workers family should not settle for $50K. The workers life is worth a lot more than that especially if negligence by cruise line is involved. OSHA should be inspecting these ships when in American ports.

  • Anonymous

    I work on a cruise ship. I know the life there. If some one complain they say you want the job, the job doesn’t need you. Fair but its very difficult world. Not all companies but most of them needs 12 hours of work, cleaning every corners of the ship. Handling heavy things when the ship is being loaded.
    We can take it but all this for 9 months and without a day off?.

  • Anonymous

    As a filipino we get less pay compare to north/south american or european even though we have the same rank, doing the same job,and paying same price for a beer in the crew bar onboard.

  • Elizabeth

    The passangers and workers on the ship donated over $30,000 to his family, seperate from the cruise Company. We were on this cruise ship. While this was a tragedy as we all know, the workers choose to work for the cruise lines and they make a lot more $$ then a job in their home country. The cruise line provides wages, airfare, obviously food and housing. If the workers did not feel the $$ was fair, they would not do the jobs. Maybe one should criticize their homeland that is so bad that the people choose to work for the cruise lines . The captain made several announcements re this crewman, they offered counseling and had memorial services and many donated to a family fund as well.

  • Kevin Riddell

    The crew member that died is my girlfriend’s brother.

    Carnival Cruises in Australia have not even contacted the family. Only the agency in Cebu City who hired Allan has made any contact. This is what I would expect from a large company.

  • Ruth

    Who was the crew member? We were so impressed with many of the crew members and are worried that it may have been one that we got to know well. Thanks.