Royal Caribbean is reportedly outsourcing the majority of the employees in its call center in Springfield, Oregon (near Eugene) to Jamaica and Guatemala. Over 700 positions in the Springfield office will apparently be gone by the end of 2019. Employees say that they were forced to sign Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDA’s) prohibiting them from talking about the company’s decision. As one employee who wishes to remain anonymous recently told me, “it’s pretty sad there right now.”

Royal Caribbean has operated a call center in the town of Springfield, Oregon since 2006 in a customized office which is designed to look like a cruise ship (see article below). As of 2014, Royal Caribbean employed over 700 people and had plans to hire over 200 others there.

Several current employees in Springfield contacted me to discuss the company’s plans. They state that Royal Caribbean plans to outsource 85-90% of its jobs in Springfield to Guatemala and Jamaica. This leaves around 700 U.S. employees without jobs, and the cruise line is not offering severance pay or assistance to most of the employees. All of the employees wish to remain anonymous out of fear that the company will retaliate against them.

The only teams which, reportedly, are being offered to remain employed are “sales” and “outbound sales.” However,  long term sales agents are not being provided with leads anymore and the cruise line is already outsourcing calls to agents in Guatemala. 

One employee told me that “when guests have a issue with their booking and want to speak with a supervisor (escalating to the resolutions department), they will now speak to someone overseas. It seems like for now Royal Caribbean wants their sales agents in the USA to hook the customer  and introduce them to the product, but when they call back with an issue they will be routed overseas.” She added “good luck getting a refund . . . ” 

Several years ago, Travel Weekly reported that Royal Caribbean’s UK and Ireland managing director reassured agents about the planned outsourcing of the cruise line’s UK call center to Guatemala. He told Travel Weekly at the time that Royal Caribbean was busy training the new Guatemalan call center staff and he would soon visit the Central American center.

Royal Caribbean is obviously not the first cruise line to outsource services from the U.S. Two year ago, Carnival eliminated 200 positions from its IT departments across its brands, including Carnival Cruise Lines, Holland America Lines and Princess Cruises. Carnival received wide spread criticism when it was revealed that Carnival employees were required to train the “foreign” replacements.

Over the years, there have been several incidents involving mass lay-offs from Royal Caribbean, dating back many years ago with 500 employees losing their jobs, with the last one in 2013 involving around 100 people let go.

As I mentioned before, this appears to be an inevitable part of the “globalization” of the cruise industry. Money saved by the cruise executives in Miami, yes, but at the expense of terminating loyal U.S employees. Not to mention running the risk of demoralizing the remaining staff while offering substandard services.

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August 30, 2018 Update:

According to KVAL TV in Eugene, “some of the Springfield employees were used to train workers in Jamaica in April ‘only to realize now that they trained their own replacements.’ The sources have asked not to be identified for fear of repercussions at work.”

KVAL TV article “Absolutely Heartbroken;” Employee at Royal Caribbean in Springfield Speaks Out.

Royal Caribbean responds by saying that there are allegedly no layoffs currently planned but plans to “reassign some of the jobs to other areas.” The employees in Springfield will be “reduced through attrition.” A KVAL reporter reported that the cruise line would not provide a time table for the changes and “declined to say where those jobs would be located, and said officials have not decided how many jobs would be moved.”

Interested in this issue? Please read:

Cruise Law Visits Royal Caribbean in Oregon

Globalization at Work? Royal Caribbean’s U.K. Call Center Outsourced to Guatemala

Loyal to Royal” Royal Caribbean Axes 100 Jobs in Corporate Headquarters

Photo credit: Jim Walker

This weekend I read an interesting article in the Springfield Register-Guard about Royal Caribbean Cruises’ plans to add employees at its call center in Oregon.

There are currently over 700 employees at the call center in Oregon, according to the newspaper. The cruise line is planning to add another 220 mostly full time employees.

What struck me about the article was the lucrative pay and benefits which the cruise line provides to its employees. The newspapers says "Royal Caribbean touts its modern facility, which includes a fitness center and cafeteria; base pay that starts at $8.85 to $10.50 an hour, not including incentive pay; Royal Caribbean Call Center Spinngfield Oregonhealth care insurance; a retirement plan; the chance to advance rapidly, and cruising privileges."

The cruise line also received lucrative incentives to open the call center back in 2006. The state of Oregon provided $1.3 million in incentives, including a $600,000 loan. The company was required to pay back only around $64,000. 

What a great employment package for the people in Oregon (especially compared to the Royal Caribbean operations in the U.K. which was out-sourced to Guatemala earlier this year). They can make over $400 working 40 hours a week, plus benefits, in a nice facility doing a cushy job. 

How does that compare to a cleaner from Jamaica who works on a Royal Caribbean ship 10 to 12 hours a day, 7 days a week, with no time off and no benefits?  A cleaner on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship makes around $550 a month performing strenuous work under difficult circumstances, far from the comforts of home. That turns out to around $1.75 an hour. They are tied to contracts lasting anywhere from 6 to 9 months without a single day off.

The cruise line pays no taxes on the billions of dollars paid each year by cruise passenger, because it is incorporated in Liberia and it registers its ship under flags of convenience (Bahamas and Liberia) on its cruise ships. It rakes in millions and millions each year in profits. Its cruise executives, Mr. Fain and Mr. Goldstein, are collectively worth well over $100,000,000 because of the hard working and minimally paid crew, mostly from the Caribbean islands, east Europe, India, Indonesia and the Philippines.

The U.S. executives are swimming in cash while paying the "foreign" crew peanuts. 

There is something wrong when a U.S. call center employee sitting in a cubicle answering the phone for the cruise line can work less than one-half of the hours of a shipboard employee yet earn three times more, plus benefits and perks.   

 

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Don’t forget to read:  

Cruise Law Visits Royal Caribbean in Oregon

Globalization at Work? Royal Caribbean’s U.K. Call Center Outsourced to Guatemala

Cruise line loyalty to employees seems like it’s at an all-time low.

Yesterday we reported that Carnival Cruise Lines unceremoniously ended its retirement benefit program for its crew members on its 24 cruise ships, leaving them feeling shocked and betrayed.

There is always a cheaper way of doing things, isn’t there?

It seems like many cruise executives spend most of their time scheming on how to increase profits by laying off employees and then looking to Cruise Line Call Center - Royal Caribbean - Guatemalathird world countries for cheaper labor.

Travel Weekly reports today that the new UK and Ireland managing director of Royal Caribbean International is trying to reassure agents about the outsourcing of its UK call center to Guatemala.

Stuart Leven told Travel Weekly that Royal Caribbean was busy training the new Guatemalan call center staff and he would soon visit the Central American center.  

Travel Mole reported earlier that Royal Caribbean planned to shrink its UK and Ireland guest and trade services center with the loss of up to 100 jobs. The center for Royal Caribbean, currently based in in Surrey, will be operated in Guatemala.

I suppose that this is an integral part of the "globalization" of the industry. Money saved yes, at the expense of terminating loyal employees. Not to mention running the risk of demoralizing the remaining staff and offering substandard services.

I hope the sales office in Guatemala works better than the service center in India I have to call when I’m having a computer problem.

 

Photo Image Credit: The Guardian

Royal Caribbean Cruises calling Center Springfield OregonFor the past week I have been visiting my sister in Oregon. She and her husband have a cottage on the McKenzie River outside of Vida, Oregon, some 30 miles to the east of Eugene. 

The cottage is an idyllic location, nestled under towering Evergreens, overlooking the roaring McKenzie River filled with salmon and trout. Compared to the Miami’s bright skies and heat and humidity, Vida has seen cloudy skies, rain and cold nights which call for an extra log or two on my sister’s fireplace.

Vida is a particularly great location to get away from Miami, and all of the hustle-and-bustle which comes from being the cruise-ship-capital-of-the-world. It’s in a rural location connected to the outside world by a meandering river road traveled by log trucks hauling fallen hardwood trees to the paper mill in nearby Springfield.

Today, I took a 25 minute drive into Springfield with my sister to go to a Fed Ex facility. Nearby I noticed a nautical looking building with a mast-like structure and wave-like roof line which caught my attention. We drove over to the building and, to my surprise, there stood three words that suddenly Springfield Oregon - Royal Caribbean Cruises brought me back to Miami: "Royal Caribbean Cruises." 

The building appears to be designed to look like a cruise ship. We got out of the car and I look a few photos, one of the dramatic, cantilevered entrance (above) and one of my sister standing in front of cruise line sign (right). 

We went inside and I introduced myself. I learned that the building housed a calling center for the cruise line which handles reservations.

I took photos of the Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Cruises model ships and toured the lobby before we left to return to the cabin.