Cruise Crew – Any Rights for Risks?

Many people dream of one day having the expendable income to head out on a nice cruise ship vacation, and with lowered prices occurring over the years, this has become more of a probability. Unfortunately for those traveling on these ships, whether for business or pleasure, recent news stories have made it quite obvious that sea travel isn’t always 100% safe. Some cruise ships have actually had viral outbreaks, and passengers are often reimbursed for their difficult times. Sadly, workers on the ships may also catch the bug but still be left out in the cold.

Norovirus Outbreaks

In a report that shocked all those who knew of it, including those working decades in the cruise industry, a group of 600 individuals fell ill while on Royal Caribbean’s Explorer of the Seas. The Centers for Disease Control are investigating the incident, but primary reports indicate that it could be an outbreak of the norovirus. Countless individuals were confined to their rooms during the voyage, but even this intense event wasn’t the end of the story.

Only two days after the Explorer of the Seas had to cut its voyage short, the Caribbean Princess, operated by Princess Cruises, also had to cut its voyage short for what appeared to be the same reason. Passengers on these vessels are often, as was the case this time, given credit for future voyages. One is left to wonder, however, what cruise line employees who fell sick will get out of the situation.

Impact on Cruise Ship Staff

Sadly, credit for a future trip doesn’t do much for those who are employed on the ship. After all, they’re already on these voyages, and in all reality, it’s not likely that they’d enjoy getting back on the ship after one of these incidents if they didn’t have to. Since they work on board, they can’t avoid the risk. “…You may find it unclear which rights you can pursue and how you can obtain monetary compensation for your injury” says Doyle Raizner, international work injury lawyers who assist those in the maritime industry. Fortunately, there is a form of compensation, known as “maintenance and cure,” that employees can receive. Unfortunately it’s not much.

“Cure” means that an employer will cover whatever medical costs a seaman or other cruise line worker experiences due to being an employee on the ship. This, of course, can extend to norovirus outbreaks. Unfortunately, “maintenance” usually only provides a minimal payment meant to cover food and lodging that the worker would’ve received had they been on the ship. Sadly, this just isn’t much. There are, however, other alternatives for workers who become ill or injured on these large ships.

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Potential Outcomes for Employees

There is a law on the books, known as the Jones Act, that allows sea workers to actually sue their employer if they are injured, including due to disease, through negligence. It’s an unfortunate truth that even these outbreaks can be the fault of those in charge. In the instance of the Explorer of the Seas, for example, witnesses say that the ship showed up late and staff didn’t have enough time to properly clean.

When such an obvious example of negligence takes place, a worker can bring forward a personal injury lawsuit under the Jones Act. Most statutes throughout America, including typical worker’s compensation laws, restrict lawsuits against employers in many cases. Due to the additional dangers of working at sea, however, an individual may be able to recover compensation for medical bills, lost income and even pain and suffering if injured while at work on the high seas.

Working at sea is one of the most dangerous professions a person could ever undertake, and even in industries that are considered relatively safe, such as cruise liner businesses, closed quarters and negligence can still lead to disease and injury. When this happens, it’s imperative for an employee to seek out legal counsel such as fromĀ Doyle Raizner, international work injury lawyers who will be able to strategize an effective approach to obtain all deserved benefits. Thanks to forward thinking politicians, the Jones Act and other statutes will ensure that they’re well taken care of.


Frequent traveler Teresa Stewart recalls only great times on her previous cruises. After learning that many entertainment events were shut down due to crew illnesses, she researched legal rights for cruise employees and writes her findings in this article.

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