It's a long way home.
I know that this blog might get me in trouble with “the man” but I have gotten many emails from you all about this issue so I will blog on it today.
I wonder if cruise lines are perhaps a little bit unreasonable when it comes to contract lengths. I mean, what do they base the length of a contract on anyway? Why is it 6 months for some and ten months for others? I would understand if it turned out that 6 months was the “optimum” contract length for rotational purposes but then why is 6% of the crew force on ten month contracts? Why is this industry standard?
Is it because this is the limit they have discovered that certain nationalities can stand before they go stark raving mad? Why not be a revolutionary, industry changing cruise line in your treatment of crew and go with four month contracts? I for one would be happy to trade off my company paid flight for a four month contract. I am sure others would feel the same.
I know, I know… we all knew what we were doing when we signed on, but circumstances often play a role in decision making. Take me for example. I wouldn’t be out here any more if I could help it. I would rather be home raising my children. But I can’t work in Romania, and the difficulty of saving enough to move to Canada so I can stay home and work has proven to be really quite difficult. So I keep coming back. Circumstances have made it this way. It’s my only option right now. Why not just go to Canada and get a job and then bring the family over? Because if I work in Canada we have two costs of living to look at, mine and the family’s. This way, working at sea, at least I have no cost of living. For me four month contracts would be great, more time to spend with the family.
Let’s not forget that 65% of the crew has families at home. The cruise lines must realize this and also realize that 60% of those family workers are on ten month contracts! Ten months mind you! Why do they do it? Because they are from countries where there ARE no jobs. So they get a job on a ship and they do everything they can to hold onto it in order to feed their family. They essentially give up their family in order to feed them. Can you imagine being away from your wife and children for ten months? Then getting six weeks home and then gone again? Yes, yes, yes I know we all knew what we were getting into. My question is, in the year 2006, at the start of the twenty first century why don’t the cruise lines try and be a little more compassionate or understanding of the needs of the people who make up the crew?
I am not saying put everyone on four month contracts. Maybe some people don’t want that. How about this; open ended contracts? Whenever you want, after however many months, you can go to your crew office and fill out a “request for replacement” form. This form then goes into circulation and they start looking for a replacement for you, when one is found you are scheduled for disembarkation. Open ended. You decide. All I am saying is their must be a better way. A way that is more humane. Certainly even people without family are being stretched to the breaking point at ten months. At least using an open ended system would give everyone a “way out” if they wanted it. It would keep everyone happier. Why not? There has got to be a better way than just towing the hard line and telling people “you don’t like it? 1000 other people want your job.”
I don’t know. I know we all signed on for it. I know we all knew what we were getting into. Sometimes though, I just wonder why in the year 2006 some cruise line or other has not put any effort into trying to make it a better deal for crew. There has got to be a way to improve on the existing system. Maybe improving on the system would cost the cruise lines money? So what? In this day and age isn’t it about time they spent a little more on improving employee conditions? Isn’t that supposed to be the better way to go in the long run? If these lines can afford to build an 80 million dollar mega ship every year, can’t they afford to spend a little time and money on trying to improve things for the majority of their employee’s?
If all the cruise line companies shore side workers, managers and corporate leaders were suddenly told as part of their condition of employment that they could not see their families or loved ones for six to ten months at a time, I think we would see some rapid changes in the industry. Don’t you?
Let me know your thoughts on this one. Maybe some of you have some good ideas that some cruise line executive might consider. You never know. Stranger things have happened. ;0)