Letter from Norwegian Breakaway crew member - Can you imagine how it feels not being able to get off in ports?

Nov 04, 2021

Letter from Norwegian Breakaway crew member - Can you imagine how it feels not being able to get off in ports while guests can?

The restart of the cruise industry has been a challenging task for the cruise lines as well as for the crew members joining the ships. They needed to follow countless rules and regulations, quarantines, many PCR tests before they were able to join the ships. And once on board they needed to follow more rules and regulations as well as some restrictions.

No doubt the cruise companies have implemented stringent health and safety protocols to protect passengers as well as the crew in order to prevent outbreaks and continue cruising. But is this going too far? Is it fair the same restrictions that apply for crew don’t apply for guests?

On one hand, the crew members play a vital role in a successful restart of the cruise industry. The cruise lines understand their essential role and this might be one of the reasons they need to protect the crew in order to cruise and make profits. On the other, crewmembers are humans too and they need to be treated with respect for all their sacrifice to kick start the cruise industry. There should be a balance between the ship’s safety protocols and to same rights for the crew that apply for passages.

Some of the cruise lines, who restarted cruising earlier this year, have decided to give the crew more freedom and allow them shore leave or the face masks policy. A month ago Carnival Cruise Line have granted shore leave without restriction in all ports. Onboard Celebrity Cruises ship Celebrity Edge wearing masks in crew and open deck guest areas is now optional. Norwegian Cruise Line has just recently resumed cruising however the crewmembers over there are also demanding the same freedom and shore leave access just like their colleagues on other cruise lines have or the passengers sailing on the same ships. 

Today Crew Center received a letter from a crew member onboard the Norwegian Breakaway (who wishes to remain anonymous) raising his concern about the wellbeing of the crew and stressing the importance that many of his colleagues will benefit from a shore leave after they spend months on the ship.

We truly hope that NCL will read his letter and find a solution for this very important issue.

“I am a crew member onboard the Norwegian Breakaway. I am writing to you on behalf of myself and hundreds of crew members. I am writing to others in hope that this news gets out and someone can help us.

We have been crusing for over a month and have been onboard over 3 months. Despite being allowed to cruise and having guests onboard we have had so many restrictions and rules placed on us of which some of them go against MLC regulations.

The main one is that we are not granted shore leave. They tell us that the ports are the ones that do not let us go out. Yet other cruise lines are allowing their crew off the ship. Even ships that visit the same ports are letting their crew out. Some ships even in the same company are granting shore leave. Yet here we are on NCL Breakaway , crew not being allowed to get off the ship for months and no clear timeline if we will be allowed. 

We have been now informed that it is the company itself not allowing us shore leave. This is mental torture, with so many people already resigning. Can you imagine how it feels not being able to get off in months while other people on other ships can?

We have contacted port authority and they all advise that it is the company and the ship not allowing us to get off

Guests can freely get off with no problems. In addition, they have shut so many facilities onboard for the crew and taken so many of our benefits. People have been put into quarantine in looks 2meters by 1.5 meters for 10 days with no access to sunlight or barely any room to walk.

We are constantly asked to be tested at ridiculous hours. We are told we have to wear masks all the time, while guests do not have to. We are told we cannot gather next to each other but yet the guests are allowed. Basically, if you are a guest you can do what you want but as a crew member we are not because of Covid. All the crew are vaccinated but yet we are treated as the source of Covid.

There have even been times that they have closed our bar which is the only source of recreation. There were even times the smoking area was closed with no alternatives. We understand cruising is challenging now because of covid. But it is extremely hypocritical when we have all these restrictions yet crew members from other cruise lines and even ships within the same Company are living more or less a normal life. These conditions are inhumane. What is it going to take for us to be treated as humans?

As mentioned this is taking a huge mental strain on everyone and it is going to get to the point that we are scared someone will do something stupid.

Please help us”