As a former facilities dispatcher with Royal Caribbean's Brilliance of the Seas, I feel that I should inform the public about what they are supporting when they support these cruise lines, as well as inform potential cruise ship employees about what they are really getting into.
While I fully believe that everyone has a right to enjoy a hard-earned vacation, I also believe that people should be aware that most of the employees working for Royal Caribbean are being maltreated and underpaid.
I left the cruise line in 2005 - 6 years ago. I was a facilities dispatcher - one of the people who the guests call when there is a problem in their room that requires a maintenance worker to fix.
Did you know that…
- employees on the ship work for either 6 or 8 month contracts, for 10 hours a day, with absolutely NO DAYS OFF for that entire time???
- that sometimes, after working so many months without a day off, employees are kept back for weeks after their original vacation date???
- that employees have NO GUARANTEE that they will return to the same ship once their vacation is over??? Did you know that some employees only find out about the change in ship on the very day that they show up to port to report to work???
- that if an employee chooses to resign before their contract is up, he or she is confined to their cabin for sometimes an entire week while the crew office processes their release papers???
- that cabin attendants, waiters, and assistant waiters make $25.00 US per month - the rest of their ENTIRE SALARY is dependent upon guest tips? This means that if no guests in a cabin attendant's station tip him or her, they have only made $25.00 for that entire month.
- that cleaners and bell attendants only make a flat salary of $500.00 US per month, and are not allowed to be tipped???
- that Royal Caribbean participates in racist hiring practices - cleaners, cabin attendants, galley staff are hired almost exclusively from the Caribbean and South America, while entertainers and sports/recreation staff are hired from Canada and the United States, and engineers and Captains are only hired from Europe??? If you do not believe me, just look around at the people who serve you during your next cruise - what is their job description, and where does their name tag say that they are from???
- that General Manager of Radiance of the Seas (at that time) Laila Hassan Britos ordered that the hair of Black employees who wear their hair natural and refuse to chemically straighten it, be inspected by the ship's medical staff for lice? did you know that she has fired several black female employees who have refused to straighten their hair (with chemicals that burn their scalps)???
- that right around the time when I resigned, Royal Caribbean was implementing a financial strategy called "Next Level", the was aimed at saving more money by cutting further costs – through using creative ways to further decrease employees’ take home pay???
- that employees do not eat the same food as the guests – and that the food that they eat – for months on end – is bland, tasteless, and at a substandard level???
My post may be dismissed as the rantings of a disgruntled former employee. But keep in mind that as a dispatch officer I was making a (comparatively) great salary ($1600.00 per month, which doesn’t sound like much but at least I didn’t have to pay for room, board, or food), and had a relatively comfortable life. But the way that the company treats “lover-level” employees has always bothered me a great deal.
A lot of people start off on ship saying, "oh, I only plan on doing one or 2 contracts. But people end up staying on ship for much longer because they feel that they do not have any other options in their home country.
Royal Caribbean – and other cruise lines – work hard to ensure that its guests are never bothered by the truth of how it treats employees.