Let me add my voice to the others - I cannot imagine a group of people in whose company and care I would rather be than the Holland America crew...and thankfully have just a few weeks to go before my next cruise!
This is precisely the time when all people of good will need to put out extra effort to bridge cultures and affirm our common humanity. The more fearful and paranoid we let ourselves become, the happier the terrorists will be.
I'm not sure I agree with the viciousness of the comments directed toward Jim G. I agree he may not have worded his question in the best way. But, he is entitled to his concern. Perhaps a better question is asking about the process HAL uses in selecting staff, regardless of country, race, religion and so forth. Now, my own answer to that question would be, they obviously do an excellent job selecting top rate people based on the superior comments and ratings HAL cruises enjoy.
RSG reminded me of one of my grandfather's favorite expressions: "It is far better to remain quiet and be thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt."
But I can also see JimG's need to voice his fears. He admittedly did so reluctantly, and I believe he wanted nothing more than to be reassured that his worries were unfounded.
For myself, when it comes to people of any ethnicity who are subject to discrimination, I believe it is a matter of the bad apples making the whole bunch look bad. In any ghetto-like community (of ANY ethnicity, including my own), there are lazy parasitic welfare recipients, there are people who turn to crime as an easier way to survive than an honest living, and there are those who have just given up hope of a better life. And these are the most visible, and the ones responsible for the bad reputation of the group. But in EVERY ONE of these communities, there is a large number of eager. hard-working individuals who strive against all odds to make a better life for themselves, their families, and their community. The tragedy is that with the deck stacked against them, many who by all rights should succeed do not. Fortunately, there are enough who do well enough to provide an example for others and keep hope alive.
When I see third-world employees on a cruise ship, particularly HAL, I know I am looking at the hard-working role models who deserve my respect and admiration for persevering through hardships I never had to live through simply by luck of my birth in the U.S.A.
OK, now that everyone's totally indignant, I'll add that this will be my 3rd HAL cruise, and I too have fully appreciated the great service and friendly interaction from both the filipino and indonesian staff, and rewarded them well every time service was exceptional, and fully at all other times.
I'm a retired DOD employee, and an alumni on several other lines too. In addition, I'm an ex manhattenite, and don't believe there's a predjudiced (sp?) bone in my body. Was everyone here totally surprized by the attack 3 weeks ago? I, like many other's in the government have been expexting something big from them for almost 10 years. No idea what but something big. Do you know what a long term mole is? Did anyone expect that house full of neighborhood moslems in Patterson NJ to suddenly wreak such havoc? If ANY line was to house a mole with bad intent, try to name one with as high a chance as HAL. I love HAL, and will certainly sail with them in December if nothing happens first. As to most of the rest of you, continue being naive if you must. I don't mean a living soul harm, but we are AT WAR.
Everyone handles crisis differently. Quit bashing JimG. Many of us are looking for
reassurance right now. In this case, those who love to travel. I am a MSW (lisenced clinical therapist) I have to admit the thought of safety crossed my mind for one moment. I give respect to DOD employees. They may think of things we do not. However, I reminded myself of simple things I know. Hal's crew have many concerns: working hard to send money to family, working for a better life, and working to be able to travel and know our ways. Captain and co. are well informed about crew, crew members live in tight quarters and it seems that it would be difficult to plan something without it being reported. All staff and crew live with one another year round. Safety is probably better than on airplanes. Intergration of crew members with western ways is more pronounced than on land. After all, if a crew member was cold toward passengers, complaints would follow and staff would address this. Think about passengers who have been removed from ship for much lesser charges. Staff would put up with less from staff. I really feel that we need to help one another right now as passengers. We also have to think about our behavior with regard to crew and show them a great deal of respect, even better than in the past. JimG, I hope this helps on some level. Its probably appropriate to be sensitive on some isses; but not forget that we need to be free to address tough issues with one another. When you think about it, the crew is probably aware of this concern and may even fear harm from passengers. Their fear is probably more realistic.
Indonesia has the largest Muslim population in the World. There's lots of turmoil in the country.
Most ships have International staffs. Many are worried about one group or the other but the truth of the matter is Al Queda is full of people whose rallying cry is that they are all Muslims. So, people from especially Algeria, Libya, Morocco, Sudan, especially Egypt, especially Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Oman, Lebanon, Syria, Iran, Iraq, Turkey and several other countries are part of the group known as "the base".
Nothing would surprise me but I'm thinking that killing a few thousand on a HAL ship would not be the terrorist target that a crowded sports stadium, a train terminal during peak hours, an airport, or embassies would be. If I were to fear a cruise ship being attacked I would more fear a large ship like a Voyager/Explorer of the Seas, Grand/Golden Princess, or any of the large Carnival Destiny class ships.
We don't know who many of the "sleepers" are, but I think many are making the wrong assumption that their nationality will reveal who they are. And there are just too many people of the Muslim faith, that practice Islam responsibly and peacefully and not for the purpose of mass murder and political statements or objectives to lump into one group.
HAL has mostly gracious Indonesian and Phillipine staff (which also, though not a mostly Moslem country, has members of al Queda in the country). Hopefully, very careful and extensive background checking is being done by so many industries including the cruise industry and HAL on those hired and those that will be hired for the new ships on order.
One more thing, Americans (Timothy McVeigh), Irish as in the IRA, and many others are terrorists as well. Before September 11th McVeigh's sick act was the worse terrorist act on American soil.