Yesterday, investigative journalist Lizzie Presser’s 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 follows the lives of several young Filipino men who went to sea for Miami-based cruise lines in order to provide a better life for their families. But when they were injured after working unreasonably long hours (12 hours a day for as long as 10 months without a break), the crew members found that they had no real legal rights to hold their employers responsible. 

Carnival Imagination - Filipino Crew Members This is an issue which I have written about regularly over the years, explaining the legal problems Filipinos face while working on cruise ships owned by companies like Carnival and Royal Caribbean:

Filipino Labor Board Punishes Burned Crew Member.

Screwing Filipinos & Imprisoning Lawyers: Seafarers "Protection Act" Protects Cruise Line Employers.

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Photo credit: Kevin Kunishi via

  • ASAP

    Henri Starks says,”As long as the PINOY government continues its POLICY of allowing the subjugation and exploitation of pinoy seaman. It will continue unashamed, unabashed, unafraid of of penalty”
    I 100 percent agree with this, because personally I experienced this along with more than 300 more Filipino crewmembers. Actual working hours was being edited onboard for them not pay crew over time, hilarious right. Even guaranteed OT was clearly mentioned 105 hrs. per month through POEA contract was being test by this famous cruise lines by putting 130 hrs. and its clearly mentioned on payslip. 25 hrs. is clearly the excess of 105 hours quaranteed OT per month.
    Unfortunately, POEA act nothing. I just wish that real justice for seafarers needs to be prioritized by the Philippine government through legislation, making laws to assist seafarers not the agency or the cruise line company. Personally, I would rather resign and not to go back again to work to this industry because I am a victim of exploitation. My first one is with Holland America the company didn’t inform the crew that we will gonna have charter cruise a nude cruise, HAL management didn’t advise crew member that we will gonna have this, then February 14 occur in the Nieuw Amsterdam, an American passengers was almost being killed by a crewmember. I was there I know of course what happen and personally HAL, 100 percent responsible why, they didn’t even give the crewmember a notice regarding this nude cruise, what to expect, what to do just in case.. Poor Crewmember was being taken by FBI, held being liable my question how about HAL?
    Finally, I found out that owner the owner of this luxury line for my second job also worked before to HAL office. Haha now, i know why.. kidding aside. I always believe in Karma.. why see what happen to HAL.. Peace! Mr. Cruise este Kruise.

  • David


    Your message makes almost zero sense.

    How do you believe that a Philippine government agency has any say over how the cruise lines do business?

    What do you expect the POEA, or any branch of the Philippine government, to actually be able to do to make Philippine seafarers working conditions better?

    If you don’t like where you work, quit.

    Pretty simple.

  • W. Armstead, Jr.
  • Baltazar A. Rafales

    Based on my personal experienced working at Holland America Line vessels from September 2, 2000 to December 19, 2008.

    One of the best solution to lessen and/or totally eliminate violent crimes, such as deaths, sexual assaults, thefts and missing-person or even injury cause of accidents onboard the entire cruise lines is to treat the entire seafarers with high respect as human being and not like dogs without self respect. And last but not least, pay the entire seafarers the wages they deserve legally, especially as mentioned per below:

    (b) ILO Convention No. 180 — MLC 2006 Wages and Hours of Work

    (c) Section 301 of The Labor Management Relations Act, LMRA § 301 — Damages (29 U.S.C. § 185)

    “Starting from May 1, 2017, guests on board Holland America Line ships will be charged according to the new prices of daily gratuities. According to the cruise company, passengers occupying the suites will pay $15 per guest per day, instead of the current $13.50, and guests staying in all other staterooms will be charged $13.50 per day instead of $12.50. Last time Holland America Line raised the graduates was in December 2015.

    This amount is distributed among the crew members such as restaurant personnel, stateroom stewards, and behind-the-scenes support crew which is compensated by a combination of salary and the graduates.

    Holland America Line policy states that if a passenger feels that the provided service was not satisfactory, the charges can be removed at the end of the voyage. Keeping in mind that the crew works 7 days a week, for 6 months away from their family and their biggest share of salary comes from the guest’s graduates it is a shame to remove the service charge. As the saying goes “If you can’t afford to tip, don’t cruise.”

    In comparison, Norwegian Cruise Line and Celebrity cruises charge $13.50 per person per day and Princess Cruises daily graduates are $12.95.”

    CURRENTLY, the entire Filipino seafarers working on a Luxury Cruise Lines especially those who are working on Hotel Department are exploited. They are the direct victims of Human Trafficking, headed by a Seafarers Union, Manning Agency and Luxury Cruise Lines. Besides of the facts that, the Filipino Seafarers working on Hotel Department were not receiving a salary from the company. Majority of the Luxury Cruise Lines, today, took the Tip and Gratuity that supposedly goes to the loyal, friendly and hardworking Indonesians and Filipino Seafarers, to pay the salary of the entire seafarers working onboard the vessels.

    During my first contract onboard the Ryndam on September 2, 2000, I met an Indonesian crew, he was a Cabin Steward, he told me that he owned a Rent a Car business in Indonesia with 28 units. I asked him a question, why you are still working onboard, why not just managed your Rent a Car at home and live with your family? He said, my friend, I’m just 35 years old, my father managed my rent a car business and I want to earned more so that I could expand my rent a car business then retire at the age of 40”.

    Then I asked him another question, Why? How much do you earned as a Cabin Steward? He said, “Well, sometimes not less than US$ 8,000 per month, and sometimes not more than US$ 10,000 per month”.

    I said, wow, now I know the reason why you need to go back to the ship instead of managing your rent a car business together with your father at home.

    From year 2000 till 2004 sending money home from ship is a bit expensive, so most of the Indonesian crew and some Filipino crew who directly received Tip and Gratuity from the Passengers are forced to pay or rent a “Safety Deposit Box (SDB)” onboard the HAL vessels” for safety reasons, they need to write down or declare what are the items or how much money they put in their “SDB”. Nobody knows that, the main purpose of the SDB was, HAL management wants to understand or gain a complete idea who are among the crewmembers were earning than usual. And to find the answer, why most of the Cabin Stewards, Dining Room Stewards, and Wine Stewards who are signing a contract with a basic salary of $50 a month, yet most of them are retiring with stable business at home before the age of 40 or after 10 years working onboard?


    RECENTLY, THERE IS ANOTHER SHOCKING TRUTH… majority of the Filipino seafarers working onboard RCCL especially those who are working on Hotel Department, besides of the facts that they are forced to pay for their travel expenses, usually $970.+ or sometimes $1,300+ if they will join at South America. And yet they are forced to pay for, 4 travel expenses for compassionate leave.

    Perhaps, this is not happening yet in Carnival Corporation brands, nowadays, however, for sure, it will happen soon to all Cruise Lines worldwide! Especially, if everyone who will read this facts will continued to pretend that they are blind, deaf and oblivious?

    Thus, I don’t know what to say, or how to say that everyone must love his/her neighbors as he/she love his/her own life… if for the past 7 years, my life is totally wrapped with this truth… that majority of the Seafarers Union, Manning Agency and Luxury Cruise Lines, corrupt government officials, Maritime Expert Lawyers including the US Court Judges are devouring the flesh of the poor and destitute seafarers around the world?

    As a results… while the seafarers are retiring without savings, retirement benefits, insurance etc? The giant cruise lines especially the members of CLIA, building their new ships every after 2 years?

    See the link below for Holland America Line Current fleet:


    (a) Plaintiff; Federal Expert Witness; Exhibitory; Declaratory and Filipino Class Action Representative in Rafales v. HAL et al,

    (b) Federal Expert Witness; Exhibitory and Declaratory in Priyanto v. HAL et al.

  • ASAP

    David – FYI that’s why I quit because I don’t want to be exploited by the philippine government along with manning agencies and most specially the shipping company!

  • I do hope these kinds of inappropriate actions are taken into account by the Philippine constitution. Inclusion and regulation of rights should be practiced in and out its origin country.