Five Things All Cruise Lines Should Implement to Improve Crew Members Retention

Apr 07, 2018

Cruise Lines have a different working environment, policies, and services for their employees onboard. There are numerous positive aspects that some Cruise Lines have already implemented on their cruise ships that should be an example for other companies to follow. A happy crew can make the working and living environment more pleasant and more productive, thus consequently make guests happier which is always good for business. Richard Branson, the founder of Virgin Group who will launch the cruise company Virgin Voyages, said “Clients don’t come first. Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients.” 

It doesn’t take much to make crew members happy and feeling like they are an integral part of the company. Here are some examples that each cruise line could implement:

1. Make All Shipboard Personnel Shareholders

royal caribbean bonus for crew

If the company finishes the fiscal year with positive results, part of the profit goes to employees and shareholders. For the first time in the cruise industry, Royal Caribbean Cruise Line made all their shipboard employees shareholders. This year Royal Caribbean decided to share part of their profits by rewarding their 66,000 employees with a total amount of $80 million through a bonus program named “Thank You, Thank You Bonus.” The bonuses will be distributed in the form of a "Stock Unit Award." The company management decided to make each crew member shareholder in order for each employee to benefit from the company's success. Also, RCL wants to give everyone an incentive to stay with the cruise line and to feel as a company’s shareholder. This is a great example for other cruie lines to follow.

2. Free Unlimited Onboard Internet for Crew

free internet for cruise ship crew

If you ask any crew member they will tell you that the internet on cruise ships is expensive and often not the best. This is one of the main forms of communication between the crew and their loved ones, so in order to stay in touch crew goes outside in the ports and surfs the net at the free Wi-Fi hotspots. Crew shouldn't spend their time they have to rest instead running through the gangway to surf the net outside. They should be resting! Rested crew means happier and more productive crew. If there is a free Wi-Fi onboard crew would have more time to talk to their family and still have time to rest before back on duty. If you think that this sounds like mission impossible it is not. This has been implemented on one cruise line that offers free Wi-Fi for the crew. Viking Ocean Cruises is the only cruise lines as far as we know that offers free unlimited internet for all crewmembers onboard. This example should be followed by other cruise lines not only because they will have more rested crew to perform their duties with 100% capacity, but also because crew will not feel that they are nickel and dimed by the company for the internet.

3. Acknowledgment by the Cruise Lines

cruise ship crew awards

The crew, like any other land-based employee, likes to be acknowledged for the hard work they do. Most cruise lines do this in a form of an employee of the month awards and different social events. TUI Cruises is doing the same with one difference. The company has a Facebook fan page named Mein Schiff Crew dedicated specially to the crew social life, employee award announcements, crew stories and many other crew related topics. With this Facebook page, the TUI Cruises is opening to the public and everyone can see what is going on behind the scenes. This is a great way for other crew to track what is happening on other cruise ships, but also for family members to find out more about the exciting crew life on the Mein Schiff fleet.

4. One Mess for Crew, Staff, and Officers

Cruise ship employees are divided in three categories: crew, staff, and officers. As such, they eat in separated messes on board. This segregation presents division between people and reduces the feeling of belonging and mutuality. As we know, officers and staff have more privileges then the crew including better choice and quality of food in their respective mess. Furthermore, while people live on board often they enter romantic relationships where they want to spend the little free time they have together. If these couples were to be on land they would be able to have lunch or dinner together at their own choosing without feeling displaced or unable to go at a certain place. Celebrity Cruises have implemented a concept of one mess for all, where literary all employees eat in one mess. This is a great way for all to feel at least in one aspect equal, as well as increase their ability to communicate in a more fluid manner.

5. Social Interaction between Crew

team members carnival

Carnival Cruise Lines has excellent program that all crew members follow and its quite simple. If you pass by a crew member you make eye contact and greet him/her. It is that simple and makes big difference if everyone follows, and they generally do. This is very important because we feel more human and connected, not just a number or a position/uniform. When people feel that they are noticed, acknowledged and connected with the people in their environment generally people's happiness hormones (i.e., seratonin) increase and influx of energy follows. Thus, not only you have happier crew, but also more willing, energetic and productive. As the old saying goes "it's the little things that matter" holds true with this simple approach of nodding, smiling and saying a simple hello. It does not cost anything other than a brief moment and effort, but it can have a significant reward not only internally for each crew, but externally for the general onboard working and living environment, as well as business-related productivity.