Cruise chiefs rush to deny working conditions of staff weeks after harmful Channel 4 exploitation documentary

by Emily DUNBAR on October 15, 2012

The chief executive of one of Europe’s leading cruise lines has criticised producers of the recent Channel 4 documentary that highlighted the tough working conditions that staff have to endure on board cruise ships.

Broadcast earlier this month, the Dispatches programme shed light on the working conditions aboard the Celebrity Eclipse, which is operated by Celebrity Cruises. The documentary revealed that a large amount of the ship’s working staff receive under half of the British national minimum wage, with many of the lowest-paid staff earning only $600 per month - the equivalent of £1.30 per hour - and not receiving any gratuities whatsoever.

Members of staff have claimed that they are often required to put in seven days per week for months on end with no rest days, while others have alleged that they are forced to match expensive fees by recruitment agencies just to obtain their jobs. Channel 4’s programme also showed experts who accused many cruise lines of flying “flags of convenience” through registering their ships in nations where employment laws are notably less stringent.

Kevin Sheehan, Norwegian Cruise Lines’ chief executive who once made an appearance in an episode of Undercover Boss - the US reality series - by posing as an everyday member of staff, commented that his recent experience has given him a better insight into life “down in the trenches”, as it was put. He then claimed that his staff are amongst the happiest in the industry.

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