San Pedro, California – February 23, 2013, Filipino crew onboard the mv SAPPHIRE PRINCESS (a Princess Cruise ship sailing out of San Pedro, California to the Hawaiian Islands) were awaken with knocks on their doors, and forced to relinquish their I-95’s (official document allowing non-US citizens working onboard to go ashore from a vessel) by ship’s officials. When asked what for, no definite explanation was given. Most Filipino workers gave their I-95’s thinking that it was just for that day.
The following day, a letter was issued to crewmembers stating that it was the USCBP’s decision and that there’s no definite timeline on when they would allow the crew to go ashore. This was meant to keep the peace by passing the blame to the office shoreside. Rumors have circulated that this would last for at least 90 days and that this involved all Princess cruise ships.
No Filipino crewmembers onboard the said cruise ship has broken any laws or ship’s rules, yet are still being punished by being confined to the ship while in US ports. Every day, they were made to believe by the ship’s officials that this would be resolved soon to make them continue working and not to lose their morale but, nearly two weeks later, the situation is still the same. Filipino crew still cannot go out even to send money back home. This is becoming a concern for both the crewmembers and their families. Most, if not all, of these Filipino crew are the sole providers. Earning money onboard means nothing if they couldn’t send it home. If this lasts 90 days, it takes less than 90 days for the families of these crewmembers to lose their homes and starve.
This is a case of racial profiling - isolating one nationality and treating them as lesser people. Filipino crew feel like they’re PRISONERS and SLAVES – but most of all they feel discriminated.
Sapphire Princess will dock in San Pedro on Saturday, March 9, 2013.
I am not condoning what has taken place, but I think I can explain why this has been done. A friend of mine recently returned from an Hawaiian cruise on the Golden Princess. He said that whilst at one of the islands, several Filipino crew members went on shore and went AWOL. They never returned to the ship. Consequently, shore leave was cancelled for the remainder of the cruise.
Princess must now be trying to stop any more Filipino crew members for doing the same.
Although there may be a problem with some of the crew jumping ship I have a hard time believing that Princess doesn't have a way of allowing them to transfer money home from the ship. This may well have been a one time occurrence.