A UK television documentary that makers claim will shed new light on what goes on behind the scenes onboard a Southampton-based cruise line is garnering the attention of both movie critics and cruise line authorities.
Undercover reporters claim their footage from the Celebrity Eclipse demonstrates low standards are maintained for staff members. They claim the crew was forced to accept poor working conditions that are far below the legal minimum in Britain.
The 30-minute documentary aired Monday, October 1, on the British show “Dispatches,” but before the show aired, cruise line officials said they would take “swift action” should any subpar working conditions be uncovered.
One of the reporters, Tazeen Ahmed, went undercover as a passenger and spent her time investigating the conditions crewmembers were subjected to – as well as passengers. Ahmed’s colleague, Paul Mills, procured a job as an assistant waiter onboard the Eclipse, which earned him £2.24 an hour (roughly $3.60 USD), less than half the minimum wage in the United Kingdom.
The footage showed cruise employees complaining that they were not given adequate breaks and would have to work long hours without any time off. Some workers even complained they had to use their personal wages to pay other people so they could finish their tasks because they were so overwhelmed.
The show’s producers have called the documentary an examination of “life below deck for the multi-national workforce who toil behind the scenes of glamorous ocean going holidays.”
Part of the documentary includes an interview with Carlos Felipe Llinás, an attorney with Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A. Mr. Llinás spoke about the awful conditions crewmembers deal with on a daily basis and explained the rights and remedies available to them under the law.
After the documentary aired, Celebrity Cruises issued a statement, saying that they would take the proper measures to investigate the incidents the documentary uncovered.
“Celebrity Cruises is taking immediate steps to investigate all of the allegations made by the undercover reporter to determine their basis and validity,” said cruise line officials. “If we discover that anyone within the company, or at the hiring and placement agencies we work with, violated our procedures and requirements, or the European and international labour regulations to which we adhere to, then we will take swift and corrective actions.”
However, not everyone had something positive to say. Jo Rzymowska, vice president and general manager at Celebrity Cruises, which is part of the Royal Caribbean fleet, attacked the documentary before it even aired.
Rzymowska speculated the documentary would be nothing more than “a biased and unbalanced programme about the labour and wage issues in the cruise industry – with Celebrity Eclipse as the show’s primary example.”
Ryzmowska contends the cruise line is “committed” to providing quality cruise vacations and has already taken steps “to investigate all of the allegations” made in the documentary.
Dispatches’ makers said the show would open viewers’ eyes to what really happens onboard a cruise ship. While many believe a cruise is just a fun time, the reality is that many crewmembers – and passengers – suffer harsh conditions that can even lead to serious accidents.
The lawyers at Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A. have been fighting for the rights of seafarers around the world since 1971. We’ve worked diligently to improve working conditions aboard cruise ships, but this documentary makes it clear that much more work must be done. If you or someone you know has been subjected to difficult, if not impossible, working conditions at sea, contact us immediately to protect and preserve your rights under the law.
When a crewmember receives poor wages, inadequate medical attention or is subjected to unethical work standards, they have a right to seek legal help. Crew can file seafarer claims to fight for the compensation they deserve for what they have been forced to undergo. Our maritime law firm has been named the Top Law Firm Protecting Seafarer Rights, and as such, we do everything we can to make sure you do not suffer at the hands of a negligent cruise line operator. Contact our cruise lawyers today to see how we can help you file a case and protect your rights.