Can you expect support from the onboard HR department?

Apr 24, 2023

The Human Resources position plays a vital part in any business organization. This position is maybe the most vital in the cruise ship industry since crew members are away from their families for 6-10 months.

Working hard on the cruise ship for a long period of time inevitably comes with many daily issues and problems. Sometimes those problems could be between crew members or between guest and crew member. Regardless of the company that you work for or the onboard management on the specific cruise ship, you always need to remind yourself to act fair and equally in terms of your approach to your surroundings. 

However, even if you do everything right and treat everyone respectfully, inevitable problems come along the way. There are many reasons for that. First of all, many crew members coming from all around the world work on cruise ships. Some crew members only want to come and try something different from one contract on the ship; they could be rude, straightforward, and insult you in many different ways. Some of those crew members could even try to joke with you disrespectfully without a clear intention to hurt you, but still, they might treat you badly. 

On the other hand, there are thousands of guests coming your way, especially if you are working in front of the house, like the bar department, restaurant department, or housekeeping. Even if you are nice to everyone and try to avoid conflict situations, there will always be some problems. 

That is ok; problems are inevitable, and we all have different cultural backgrounds, beliefs, and values. Sometimes, our views and past experiences would create an opposite view of the situation, a conflict that is hard to resolve. I suggest always choosing your battles. If the guest is being rude and shouting at you for no particular reason, take a deep breath and let it go. 

Do not engage in a heated argument; try not try to prove your point of view or try to convince someone that he is wrong and you are right. Just let it go. Remember, millions of other guests are nice and genuine people, and those guests will also come along your way. That's how this universe creates a balance. Some people are nice, and some people are not, simple as that. But if you are trying to prove your point in the argument with the customer by simply following the company policy, it does not matter. The company will always stand with the customer's point of view; that is the inevitable scenario. If the customer makes an official complaint about you, the company will never protect you. That's just how the cruise ship industry works. Even if you say, " But I was just following procedure and protocols, the one that company made?" Nobody will care.

That's why you have to choose your battles to protect your job. Some rude customers who previously cruised on many different ships know that the company always sides with the guest's point of view. For that reason, if you further argue with them, they will go straight to the guest services and make a complaint about you. Then the guest services manager will call your department manager. Consequently, your manager will call you into the department office and give you a warning or even get you fired. If you go to the HR manager and believe that the HR manager is there to protect your "human rights," here is the bad news-IT DOES NOT WORK THAT WAY!

During my ten years of extensive experience on many different ships around the world, I witnessed thousands of situations when crew members got terminated or were given warnings just because they were doing their job with dignity. Sadly, there is no protection for any crew members if the guest places a formal complaint at the guest services desk. 

I remember one of my good friend's, a role model in our department, got fired because he did not want to give a coca cola can to a customer. When the guest purchased the soft drink package, they could read the service package instruction; no can should be given to the customer, only soft drinks by the glass. This customer was persistent and even shouted at my friend, demanding a can of Coke; he said he did not want the glass. My colleague was following the company policy and service procedure, and he refused to give the can of Coke to the guests. That happened to be a VIP, a diamond card guest; he went to the customer service desk to place a complaint about the bar waiter.

The story ended when my friend got fired a few days after; the diamond card guest made up some story about my colleague, but guess who the company supported?

When my colleague went to speak to HR, the Human Resource manager condemned his "unprofessional behavior towards of important, VIP customer."

The HR manager on the ship is protecting the company's interests. That is a straightforward fact. Therefore, try to avoid conflicts with the customers and choose your battles carefully. Because if it ends with a complaint, surely the company will not stand next to you. Instead, the company will apologize to the guest, and even if you just followed the protocols and procedure, the company will distance you from your act. 

The key is to protect your job and always remember that if you have a rude, grumpy, arrogant customer in front of you (it will happen), just breathe, smile, and let it go. It's not worth losing your job because you are trying to prove your point of view. Just give it to them, the can of Coke or whatever.  

The company creates several protocols and procedures, but the company will not protect you if you get in trouble just for following those. Simply, they will replace you with somebody else. Because for the cruise ship industry, we don't have names; for them-we are only numbers.

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