Aside from the captain and others who navigate the boat, there are two types of employees who work on cruise ships: artists who have aspirations of being discovered by the entertainment industry and employees who hail from poor countries looking to see the world and to support their families. The latter is most likely to get injured while working aboard a cruise ship.
One of the reasons that international staff members are likely to get hurt on the job is because they're often forced to work long hours for very little pay. Most cruise ship companies purposefully recruit workers to take on janitorial, restaurant, and mechanical roles from among some of the poorest countries in the world. They do this to keep their operational costs low.
They often sign these individuals to contracts that last as long as eight months. Many of these employees work 12 or more hours daily for seven consecutive days without any breaks. They are compensated as little as $550 per month for doing so.
If they do get hurt, these employees are often afforded a substandard level of healthcare which may simply involve them being given a pain killer and being told to return to work. They may have learned to abstain from complaining too much as this may affect their ability to be asked to return to work when their current contract ends.
In those few instances in which cruise ship employees have reported their injuries to someone other than their employers, they've been met with obstacles to get the compensation they deserve. They come to realize that their ships are registered to Panama and the Bahamas, countries with weak labor laws.
When they have attempted to sue for compensation, they often find out that their contracts require them to resolve employment disputes through arbitration. Those are often weighted heavily against the employees.
If you're a cruise ship worker who has been hurt on the job and you're wondering how you can get the financial help that you need, then there's hope. A maritime accidents attorney who is experienced in standing up for injured cruise ship workers can advise you whether you qualify for protection under the United States federal government's Jones Act or via other means.