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There are hundreds of cruise ships on oceans and rivers across the world, and those ships are manned by thousands of crew who make the journey possible. Those who work aboard cruise ships perform valuable functions that allow the cruise lines to operate and bring joy to passengers.

Unfortunately, there are many hazards that can be faced when working aboard a cruise ship. Because of these hazards, injuries do happen. If you’re a cruise ship employee, and you’re injured at work, you probably have a lot of questions. But perhaps the most important question any cruise ship crew member can ask is: “What are my rights?”

Here’s what you need to know about this special area of maritime law to help you understand what your rights are before you ever set sail.

What Are Your Rights?

Crew members aboard cruise ships have rights, and many are covered by something called the Jones Act. This Act is a federal law that works to regulate maritime commerce in the U.S. The main point of the Jones Act is to aid those injured while working on ships at sea, including cruise ships.

Under this statute, those injured while on the job may be able to recoup lost wages, get help paying for medical treatment, and even receive compensation for lodging – among other benefits. It may even help with future medical costs, pain and suffering from injuries, and future wages, even for your family if you are killed while at work.

In general, you have the right as a crew member for protection in these situations:


As discussed, you can be compensated for any injuries you sustain in the line of duty while working on a cruise line. If the cruise line was negligent, this may help you to recover even more damages. It all depends on the circumstances surrounding your specific case.

Florida Jones Act Lawyer


It is the responsibility of the cruise line to run criminal background checks on those who they employ. If they fail to do this, and you are attacked by another member of the crew with a criminal history, then you can receive compensation under the Jones Act. Negligent security can also be a factor in some assaults, particularly if you are attacked by anyone aboard the ship and security failed to handle the situation or to provide a safe environment for you to work.

Breach of Contract

When you begin working for a cruise line, you will sign a contract that describes an agreement between you as the employee and the employing cruise line. If the cruise line violates that contract in any way, then you may be eligible for compensation.

The truth of the matter is that there are many hazards on a cruise ship for those who work on it. You can sustain injuries due to slip and fall accidents, illnesses, collisions, falls, and incidents with other crew members.

When Can You Qualify for Benefits?

You are eligible for benefits under the Jones Act if you become injured or sick while working on the vessel. The illness or the injury doesn’t need to be caused by your work. In fact, even if you are on shore leave and get sick or injured, then you can be eligible for a daily allowance, medical expenses covered, and wages for at least a brief time. It depends on your contract.

What if Negligence is Involved?

If negligence is a part of your case, then Maritime law allows you to obtain more than just the basic benefits – you can also receive damages.

If the unseaworthiness is an issue, which includes defects or deficiencies in the vessel, personnel, equipment, or supervision, or if there is an issue with negligence, then you can qualify for additional damages such as loss of earning capacity, lost income, pain and suffering, and medical expenses both now and in the future.

Tough Conditions on Ships

While it may seem like a dream to work on a cruise ship and travel the world, cruise ship employment can be very demanding and dangerous. Most crew members work very long hours every single day of the week – and do not get paid much in the process.

Many cruise ships are not registered in the United States, which makes them subject to the regulations in that country and not the U.S. So, poor working conditions may not be regarded as an issue because of where the ship is registered, which is why it’s always important to check that out before you take a job. Consult with a skilled attorney about your case today, especially if you were injured while working.


About the Author:

Andrew Winston is a partner at the personal injury law firm Winston Law. For over 20 years, he has successfully represented countless people in all personal injury cases, focusing on child injury, legal malpractice, and premises liability. He has been recognized for excellence in representing 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, and has been selected as a Florida “SuperLawyer” from 2011-2022– 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 2015-2022, and one of the Top 100 Lawyers in Florida for 2015-2017 and 2019-2022.