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For many people, working on a cruise ship looks like a dream. If it’s yours, then when it came true, you were likely jumping for joy and imagining all the things you’d do and the places you’d see as a part of the crew.

At the end of the day, it’s important to remember that working on a cruise ship is, well, work. With that work, you have an employment contract to review and sign.

Not everyone is familiar with an employment contract, especially when working on a cruise ship for the first time. That’s why it’s vital to take your time to look over the contract and have an attorney you trust look it over.

In the meantime, here’s what you need to know about contracts for cruise ship employment and the consequences that can be faced when that contract is breached.

Employment Contracts for Cruise Ships

Employment Contracts for Cruise Ships

If you work on a cruise line, then you’ll be required to sign a contract upon being offered a job. This is a contract that controls the relationship between the cruise line and the employee.

As an employee on a cruise line, you do not have the power to negotiate the contract. It’s basically a take-it or leave-it situation – you sign it if you want the job and, in doing so, you accept the contract offered and agree to everything in it.

These types of contracts are referred to as adhesion contracts because it allows the cruise line to set all the conditions and terms of employment. It’s important to note, however, that there are a couple of different types of adhesion contracts.

Self-Contained Contract

These contracts have all the terms and conditions spelled out in them. This type of contract is usually very long and quite detailed, which is why you may want to have a lawyer look it over before you agree to sign it, so you can simply understand everything you’re agreeing to.

The advantage of a self-contained contract is that it fully informs you of your rights as a member of the crew. Any questions you have about employment are answered right in the contract.

Collective Bargaining Agreement Contract

This second type of contract is normally quite short. It does not have in it all of your rights as a crew member but instead refers you to look at the Collective Bargaining Agreement that will spell out your rights and responsibilities as an employee in much more detail.

One of the best things about this type of contract is that It normally has more generous employment terms for the employee.

However, one disadvantage to this type of contract is that they may not provide you with the full Collective Bargaining Agreement before you are required to sign the contract, which doesn’t give you or your attorney a chance to look it over before you sign.

What Contracts Do For Crew Members

A contract is something that many view as only having value for the cruise line, but the truth is that it is useful to the crew member as well.

If you become injured while working aboard the ship, for instance, then your contract will have a clause that provides some sort of compensation for you.

Normally, a contract would have a maintenance rate for the injured crew that you will be paid as well as how long you can receive it while you’re injured. This is useful if you are unable to work while getting treatment for your injuries.

Breach of Contract in Florida

Maritime Employment Law Attorney

Of course, one of the things you must be aware of when you sign an employment contract is not to breach it at any point or there could be serious penalties for you.

A breach of the contract implies that you neglected to follow the conditions of the contract you signed. Of course, it also protects you if the cruise line is the one in breach of the contract.

If you ever feel as if the cruise line doesn’t hold up their end of the contract, then you can sue. However, it will be up to you to prove the following in court:

  • You entered into a contract with the cruise line
  • You did all that was asked of you in the contract
  • You met all the conditions of the contract

Keep in mind, you must also prove that:

  • The cruise line failed to do something provided in the contract
  • You were harmed by that failure

Contracts are intimidating if you’ve never dealt with them before. Make sure you understand what you’re signing before you sign it so you don’t accidentally breach the contract or don’t know when to hold the cruise line to account if they do.


About the Author:

Andrew Winston is a partner at the personal injury law firm of Winston Law. For over 20 years, he has successfully represented countless people in all kinds of personal injury cases, with a particular focus on child injury, legal malpractice, and premises liability. He has been recognized for excellence in the representation of injured clients by admission to the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and named one of America’s Top 100 High-Stakes Litigators. Mr. Winston is AV Preeminent Rated by the Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory, enjoys a 10.0 rating by AVVO as a Top Personal Injury Attorney, has been selected as a Florida “SuperLawyer” from 2011-2020 – an honor reserved for the top 5% of lawyers in the state – was voted to Florida Trend’s ”Legal Elite,” recognized by Expertise as one of the 20 Best Fort Lauderdale personal injury attorneys, named one of the Top 100 Lawyers in the Miami area for 2015-2017, and one of the Top 100 Lawyers in Florida for 2015-2017 and 2019.