Every crew member that works for a cruise line must sign an employment contract. This employment contract governs the relationship between the crew member and the cruise line. The crew member does not have the power to negotiate with the cruise line as an equal. If he wants to work, he must accept the contract the cruise line offers him. This is called an adhesion contract because the cruise line sets all the terms and conditions of the crew member’s employment. All crew member contracts are adhesion contracts.
There are two types of crew member adhesion contracts the cruise lines use. The first is what we call a “Self-Contained Contract“. This means that all the terms and conditions of employment are spelled out in the contract. This type of employment contract is usually very long and has lots of pages. The advantage of this self-contained contract is that by reading it the crew member can learn about all his rights under the contract. A good example of the self-contained employment contract is Carnival’s crew member contract.
The second type of contract is what we call a “Collective Bargaining Agreement Contract“. Collective bargaining agreement employment contracts are very short and have few pages. This type of contract does not contain all the rights of the crew member. It refers the crew member to a separate document called a “Collective Bargaining Agreement” that spells out in greater detail the rights of the crew member. The advantage of this type of contract is that it offers more generous terms for the crew member. The disadvantage of this type of contract is that the crew member is not provided a copy of the collective bargaining agreement, a separate document, at the time of signing the contract. Therefore, he does not know that it exists, nor does he have an opportunity to read it. A good example of this type of employment contract is Royal Caribbean’s crew member contract.
Injured crew members depend upon their contracts to provide for essential needs. The employment contract determines the maintenance rate an injured crew member will receive, and for how long he will receive it. This is the monthly amount of money the cruise lines will pay an injured crew member while he is receiving medical care for an injury, an accident, or a sickness. It also affects his entitlement to medical care and for how long. The applicable law and the availability of a disability clause will also be contained in the employment contract.
We advise all crew members to read and re-read their employment contracts regardless of the type of contract they get. If they get a self-contained contract, all their rights under the contract will be there. If they get a collective bargaining agreement contract, they must request a copy of the collective bargaining agreement to learn about all their rights under the contract.
Any crew member that has questions about his employment contract should reach out to us. We offer all crew members free confidential consultation in person, by phone, or by Email.