Norwegian Workers Come First

While cruise lines are famous for bragging rights when it comes to innovations, and without keeping score, it seems to us that Norwegian leads the league in firsts. Going right back to 1966, when the "Norwegian Caribbean Line" first came up with low-cost Caribbean cruises that now dominate cruise-line itineraries.

Other firsts have been well-documented — Freestyle Cruising is probably the biggie — and now Norwegian has claimed it is once again leading the charge.

This one? International Standards for Seafarers.

This week, Norwegian claims to be the first cruise line to be certified and in compliance with the International Labor Organization's Maritime Labor Convention. Why should you care?

Well, first of all, because it protects people who work on cruise ships by giving them comprehensive rights to working conditions. So as people who care about humanity, it is our moral responsibility. And anybody interested in cruising has heard too often about how crew members are (allegedly) taken advantage of, specifically when it comes to wages and sometimes living conditions.

Secondly, if the crew members are happy doing their jobs, the customers benefit. Rarely have we met a crew member who didn't appear to be happy serving food or making beds, so it's kind of part of their job descriptions. Having standards to be enforced at least means they don't have a reason to fake it.

Sometimes cruise lines get a bad rap for treatment of crew members. We've met several who climbed the ladder in a company when perhaps, by citizenship, they weren't expected to be promoted. Do a good job, expect a promotion. Isn't that the way of the working world? Royal Caribbean, Celebrity and — yes — Norwegian quickly come to mind.

There are an estimated 1.2 million seafarers at work on the sea and the new labor standards will force all cruise lines to comply. The 17,000 crew members on Norwegian ships fall under the Maritime Labor Convention now, and they work for the first cruise line to implement the standards.

Is anybody surprised?

Carnival Sunshine
16 nights
November 1, 2013
BarcelonaPalma de MallorcaMalaga, Las Palmas, Grand TurkNew Orleans
Inside: $479
Cost per day: $29
www.carnival.com

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