Letter from NCL Crew Member - We are being held to criteria not dictated by safety and perceived risk factor

Nov 16, 2021

After Crew Center published two letters sent by crew members on board Norwegian Cruise Line ships, (Can you imagine how it feels not being able to get off in ports? and NCL Crew Demand Shore Leave Restrictions to be Lifted), more people are raising their voices about the current situation and decide to stand for their right to be granted shore leave. Today we received a third letter, this time from another crew member aboard the Norwegian Breakaway. The letter speaks of the growing support by the crew as many have been treated consciously unfairly by NCL. The crew member, who wishes to remain anonymous, describes in depth the absurd situations when some regulations and restrictions are applied to the daily operations.

“Dear Sir/Madam at Norwegian Cruise Lines,

I am writing to you upon being informed that crew members are denied port access at the company’s behest.

I am a returning employee to NCL, having completed contracts prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, and am currently on the Norwegian Breakaway. I was aware of the inherent differences that would be enforced due to the incredibly complex challenges of providing a cruise service in these conditions upon signing of my current contract, however; that contract was signed in the good faith of the company that it would treat it’s employees fairly and permit behaviours as they were deemed acceptable and safe to themselves; the guests and to the furtherance of the jobs we are here to do.

Instead what I have found is we are being held to criteria, not dictated by safety and perceived risk factor, but of the company’s own: which, not being communicated openly, is acting in the self interested, inherently monetarily motivated way that receives the good faith of it’s employees and takes advantage of it.

Capitalizing on our own individual needs for employment, the company continues to withhold behaviour that is deemed acceptable by other cruise companies from us, whilst maintaining us in their own world. A world where we are told to socially distance for our safety, then crammed shoulder to shoulder in crew drills among staff that work in intimate spaces with guests that potentially carry the Corona Virus. A world where crew are punished for sitting more than four to a table, but work is continued despite the claustrophobic confines of guest areas. A world where we are denied shore leave; the usual haven for crew, where we were allowed to walk further than the fifty metres of the continually closure-threatened communal crew area, and where we are allowed to stock up on necessary toiletries and other personal items for less than the $11 dollars Norwegian Cruise Lines charges us for deodorant or the $12.60 for tampons.

Whilst these items can be found for slightly lower prices at the extremely high demand and low capacity crew mart, whose exclusivity renders it inaccessible to those refusing to queue for over a half hour or those working at it’s set opening times: the company is, in essence, creating and perpetuating a manipulative consumerist environment for it’s employees, refusing to let them ashore - when both the visited countries and other cruise companies alike are allowing it - and using the contrastingly cheap sale of alcohol and cigarettes to placate the already threatened mental health of it’s captive workforce.

A less than sufficient gym for crew, and the removable privilege of access to the passenger gym for fortunate few entertainment employees do not offer enough ability for self care in such an unashamedly hypocritical, unhealthy environment. Random alcohol checks and questionable security intentions threaten those who seek escape in the affordable means given to them, and the hope of eventual shore leave is marred in the knowledge it will come in the shape of paid excursions, with no allowed deviation or freedom from the prescribed path.

The fee paid to us is not a wage, but an allowance to give back to Norwegian Cruise Lines for our own sanity and sense of self.

This treatment of a workforce that was willing to risk personal health and to leave family and friends behind for an undetermined amount of months is grossly unfair. A crew that have been largely unemployed for two years, taking blows to mental and physical health through uncertainty and improper communication from governing bodies. Even the most strong willed employee coming with the intention of saving money has found themselves trapped, and now, with the proven ability to provide a healthier, safer workplace.

How can you justify willingly disallowing shore leave to your crew where other companies do and continue to rebuild their business after the pandemic?

‘Feel Free’ is your company slogan, we sell it on your shirts and hats, taken as an invitation by the willingly paying guests: it’s irony is not lost on your employees at this time.”

Crew Center would like to encourage all crew members to submit articles about their ship life experience and raise their voices without fear of retaliation. Crew Center is a community where everyone can speak freely and we will never reveal crew identities.

If you have a story you like to share please send us an email HERE.