Incident on NCL Breakaway Security Officers Beats Up A Crew Member

May 20, 2020

Security officials who should be enforcing the order and assuring the safety of all on a cruise ship got on the wrong side of the tracks yesterday after a crew member was physically attacked on Norwegian Breakaway. What hurts the most is that the brawl was started by the ship’s Chief Security, several crew members report.

The incident happen around 11 pm on deck 15 in the Waves bar while some of the crew were finishing their drinks before returning to their cabins. Around that time each night security teams start to disperse crew members from the public areas to return to their cabins. The night of the reported incident, one of the security officers approached a crew member (Romanian National) and told him to return to his cabin. The crew member told the officer to let him finish his drink and he will return to his cabin. The security officer was persistent and told the crew member to obey the orders immediately. The man replied to the officer in a rude way to go away. After this response, the security officer called for backup. Shortly after the British Chief Security Officer together with 6 security guards surrounded the crew member.

“Last night, security beat up a Romanian crew, because he did not get up from chair at closing time. He didn't provoke anyone, they beat him up. We are scared now” reports one of the crew members.

The Chief Security officer asked the crew member what was the issue and the crew member explained the situation. Instead of calming down the situation and resolving the issue in peaceful matter, the Chief reportedly disregarded his explanation and started to yell at the crew member in face. According to the source of the incident, the crew member didn’t react to the provocation and didn’t say anything to provoke the Security Chief Officer to respond by garbing the crew member’s hand and pushing him on the floor. The rest of the security officers also engaged by hitting the crew member while the Chief Security was restraining him by holding him down on the floor.

Reportedly, approximately 30 crew members were present during the incident and were attempting to help the crew member. The source of the incident reported that the crew member’s clothes were ripped off from the assault.

Amongst many of the apparent concerning factors in this incident, one of the most striking one was the Chief Security officer’s question that had a threatening connotation toward the crew member reportedly saying “Do you want to work for NCL again?” Unquestionably, this power high type of questioning and threatening displays plentifully in regards of the character of the Chief Security officer who has the responsibility to assure the safety of all aboard, problem solve with least amount of risk to all parties involved, and shape and model appropriate behaviors aboard the ship as this is the main character of the safety and protection of both crew and guests. The reported actions in this incident can significantly tarnish the reputation and business of the Norwegian Cruise Line as a brand. What will the cruise fans do when they read about this incident? Should they be afraid for their safety as well when the person who should be able to provide appropriate conflict resolution even when few drinks are involved has a power high and anger outburst? What would make them chose to put their trust in the person responsible for the law on board when he himself appears to break the same?

During these difficult times for all crew stranded on cruise ships, security team on NCL Breakaway failed to represent flexibility, consideration for human dignity, conflict resolution skills, anger management, empathy and compassion, and not to mention upholding the safety and law for all parties involved. It is a moment of empathizing that the current situations for all crew and staff is less than ideal considering lockdown, isolation, ship to ship transfers all while anxiously awaiting to return home. Regardless, this does not excuse inhumane and barbaric behaviors from any person and even less so by the ship’s security. 

The crew member did not have the right to insult the security guard, however, this was definitely not the way to react either as this is your fellow crew member. What happens if the shaping and modeling of anarchy occurs? If security takes advantage of their authority and beat up a crew member, does that mean that this crew member should react in a similar manner if he is let’s say a waiter by tampering with their food? 

There is a reason why shaping and modeling appropriate responses and behaviors are important, as simply because the world changed does not mean that our basic humanity and dignity should as well. On the contrary, it means that we should reinforce humanity and dignity even more so regardless of our stress levels because after all, all crew members are in the same position as the one sleeping in the next cabin.

Security especially should be mindful of signs of potential issues and concerns to support crew members as in these trying times questions such as “you seem pretty upset, is everything alright on board or back home for you and your family” may potentially bring about the actual reason for the crew member wanting to finish that drink. How does security otherwise find out about issues related to abuse on board such as sexual assault, stress related to other incidents, or maybe even concern back home with family? Security does not have responsibility only to uphold the law, but also to be able to identify risk factors related to the well being of that crew member and any other to point in the right direction such as HR, medical, etc. Often some of the first signs or risk factors of more is alcohol consumption. And while this has not been determined to be the actual rationale why the crew member was clinging onto the drink and responding in such manner, it is important to call onto culturally competent, cognizant, and socially aware professionals in the security aboard a ship. 

As this whole incident is coming to light and the crew member starts questioning his safety, trust and continued ability to work aboard as ship with related trauma from physical assault by 7 security guards, the company should be asking themselves how much would that cost them since 30 crew members observed such trauma and may identify with the impacted crew member and how many more will make a decision to chose a safer working environment? Surely, when the cruise ship reopens guests do not want to be served food or drinks aboard where their beloved crew are treated in such manner and even less question whether once they had few drinks if they may lay in the same spot because they said “fuck off.”

We are quite confident that the cruise line will take appropriate measures and encourage additional training in culturally competent practices, stress and anger management training, as well as supportive services for crew members to process what has been seen and cannot be unseen or forgotten. Trust is hard to build, easy to lose, and almost impossible to return once lost unless appropriate measure and steps taken to prevent and appropriately intervene when this occurs. We hope that the crew member experiences full recovery both physical, psychological, and emotional and that the cruise line is supportive in every step of the way in achieving this.

Update: We were told that the Romanian man was not a crew member but a contractor on the ship