Dealing with Harassment on board a Cruise Ship

Harassment art

Cruise ship chefs seem to have the ideal job – engage in work they are passionate about, live in a multi-cultural environment, travel the world and get paid for it too. This seems too good to be true, and sometimes this is the case.

In few other sectors is it as important to research the cruise ship company you apply to when looking for a job. Global standing and reputation are important with regard to crew safety and laws in cases of harassment.

Sadly, in some companies the benefits of flags of convenience are taken too far, and cruise companies sail under the rather laid-back trade laws of countries that give them leeway for abuse. They often work employees too hard, and pay them far too less for the corresponding amount of work. Staffs from countries like India, the Philippines and Indonesia are most likely to be on the receiving end.

Being aware of the company you work with and all of their employment policies can significantly reduce the chances of a rude surprise on your first day at work.

In other cases, you might be subject to bullying and harassment, particularly when you are new to working as a cruise ship chef. Harassment stems from any type of behavior that makes working difficult and bearing it is a condition to continued employment.

People can be targeted over their choice of religion, their heritage and nationality, gender identity, sexual orientation and even physical appearance. Women – and sometimes men too – are often targets for sexual harassment, even on cruise ships.

It is important to recognise harassment when it occurs, even when it might not be done to you. Some guidelines recommend you keep a journal of any and every case that happens to you, with as many details as possible. Having witnesses can help make your case even stronger, and it helps to have them on the same page as you.

The first step in dealing with harassment on a cruise ship is to bring it to the notice of the perpetrator and tell him or her that the behavior is not acceptable, and that you will make a complaint if it does not stop. If your move is not acknowledged and the behavior continues, speak to a supervisor. If the offender is your supervisor, go further up the management. All the while, it is best that you try not to react to the behavior if possible.

In your report, ensure that you remain as professional as possible, that you stick to facts and request for a resolution.

Many cruise ship companies have strict guidelines when it comes to any and all kinds of harassment, and crew are encouraged to speak out when they occur and report incidents as well. Knowing what constitutes harassment according to your company can help when filing a complaint.

It is also important to note that while cruise ship companies take cases of harassment seriously, they do so with false claims as well. All cases are scrutinized and investigated according to company rules and in either case, disciplinary action even up to discharge can be taken.

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