Working on board a cruise ship offers crew members the opportunity to travel and get paid for it. What other benefits do cruise lines offer their employees? And, what happens in the case of an unexpected circumstance such as an accident? Is there any compensation or should cruise ship crew consider private insurance?
Cruise Ship Crew Medical and Injury Compensation
Each crew member is expected to pass a medical examination prior to each contract. In addition, each crew member must have the necessary vaccinations for the countries to be visited on their contract. When an employee accepts the terms of their employment agreement or contract, they are acknowledging that the company does not provide medical care or medical reimbursement for pre-existing conditions or for crew member’s misconduct or negligence.
If a crew member gets sick on board, they have access to the ship’s medical staff and prescription medicine at no cost to the crew member. When the medical team decides that the crew member is ok to go back to their duties, they will typically give a doctor’s note to be given to the crew member’s supervisor.
If a crew member must disembark for medical reasons which manifest while working onboard the cruise ship, they may be entitled to additional medical attention and expenses paid by the cruise line, upon their return home. The crew member typically receives a daily allowance in an amount determined by the cruise line until the crew member is able to work. In addition, most cruise lines cover the crew member’s medical expenses.
Accident and Death Benefits for Crew
If a crew member dies or is injured as a result of an accident during their employment, most cruise lines pay a lump sum to the employee’s next of kin and children. Rarely will a cruise line offer compensation for accidents or death that occurred while on leave. They also do not pay benefits if the death or injury was a result of the crewmember’s negligence, misconduct, suicide, or natural causes.
In the event of a permanent disability, the cruise line generally pays a lump sum to the crew member based on the percent degree of permanent disability. As with any accident, the cruise line does not pay a benefit if the disability was a result of the crew member’s negligence, misconduct, or natural causes.
Health and Disability Insurance for Crew Members
Depending on the country that you are a citizen of will most likely determine if you need private disability insurance. For example, in Canada, each province has a health care system in place that would cover the costs of medical care if you were injured on your leave. Many countries, such as specific states in the United States expect citizens to pay their own medical costs unless they have private insurance.
You may want to look into this further before joining a cruise ship. If you do want to purchase some type of disability or health insurance, make sure you understand its terms and conditions. How long are you permitted to be outside of your home country before your insurance is not valid? You may also not be covered if you are negligent or participate in a dangerous sport (or shore excursion). Read the fine print.
Compensation for Loss of Personal Effects
Crew members may suffer a loss or damages to their personal effects as a result of fire, flooding or other cruise ship disasters. Depending on the employment agreement, the crewmember may be entitled to compensation. Generally, cruise lines will not provide compensation for loss of cash or jewellery.
In the case of the Costa Concordia, where crew members had to leave most, if not all, of their personal effects behind, the compensation for each crew member varied. According to the Financial Times, one crew member’s settlement contract offered a maximum of $3,750 to cover personal effects and cash lost on board, plus pay for the remainder of the crew member’s contract.
On the other hand, uninjured passengers were compensated the full cost of their cruise, travel expenses, medical expenses and about $14,500 each, by the cruise line to cover lost baggage and psychological trauma, according to the Associated Press. Injured passengers were compensated more.
Crew Personal Effects Insurance
Crew members may or may not consider personal effects insurance when they work on a cruise ship. Most cruise lines compensate for loss as a result of flooding, fire or collision. For example, Princess Cruises compensates for actual loss up to a maximum of $3,000 per crew member. Unfortunately, most cruise lines do not compensate against theft.
It’s common to find an insurance company to provide personal effects insurance for short term travel. This type of insurance covers you in case of lost luggage from a flight or cruise as a passenger. As a crew member you need the insurance to cover you for 6-10 months, depending on the length of your contract.
Ship Crew: Private Insurance Resources
Here are a few marine insurance companies’ websites for more information on private insurance:
Other Employee Benefits for Cruise Ship Crew
Some cruise lines have discounts for onboard purchases and services, discounts for cruising as a passenger, company retirement plans, stock purchase programs, and family travel benefits. Generally, the benefits increase as your service with the particular cruise line increases. Rank may also determine what type of benefits you have.
For example, Carnival Cruise Lines offers the Fun Ship Retirement Plan. The plan provides a lump sum benefit upon the crew member’s retirement from Carnival, provided they have at least 10 years of continuous service. The amount of the benefit varies with the individual’s position with the company.
Crew members can also take advantage of extensive training programs that will look great on a future resume.