Sunday, 20 May 2012 10:59

Who works on a cruise ship

Cruise ship crew represent a relatively recent category of worker which has evolved over the last 10 to 15 years. Generally, they are not well understood, even by maritime welfare workers. The majority of hotel staff are young, under the age of 30.

Traditionally, cruise companies have recruited in countries where labour is inexpensive. There is a high availability of workers, especially in countries of the Caribbean. All crew must speak good English and have relevant skills and experience.

There is a misperception that life is easier on cruise ships than on cargo ships. Cruise ship crews are perceived to live in luxurious surroundings and enjoy a more 'normal' lifestyle with men and women working together. Let's compare and contrast.

Similarities between seafarers in both sectors

And some differences

Subject to numerous international regulations including the ISPS Code and MLC 2006

Do not see themselves as seafarers or identify with the wider shipping community

Can have difficulty going ashore for reasons of nationality as a result of the ISPS Code

Lacking a maritime culture, they may not know their rights or where to seek help

Away from their families and communities for months at a time

Unfamiliar with names such as 'Stella Maris', 'Flying Angel', 'ITF' and 'Seamen's Club'

Nationality affects employment conditions with Europeans working shorter contracts

Due to very large complements, may lack the team spirit often found on cargo ships

Subject to a strict hierarchy with the ship's master at the very top

Exposed to pressures arising from large numbers of people confined to a small space

Often recruited by manning agencies rather than the ship owner

Form communities based on nationality or department, with positive and negative effect

Lack privacy having to share small cabins, without natural light, and bathroom facilities

Often confined to crew areas, out of passengers' sight, with much of the ship out of bounds

Attracted by salaries which are high in comparison to what they could earn ashore

The majority have to continue working onboard for the duration of ship calls

Work hard to earn money to provide a better life for themselves and their families

Large numbers of young people working onboard

Under pressure to maintain the lifestyles that their wages provide, can fall into a financial trap

Women working onboard can form the majority of the complement

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