Return to Work – Part 2: Why You?

Last updated on September 2, 2020

Now that I am back to shiplife, people ask me this question quite a lot: Why you?

I assume 2 elements fed your mind when you thought about this question

First, the CLIA (Cruise Lines International Association) – all major cruise lines – declared that cruise ships won’t reopen their business until September 15. Disney Cruise Line also announced that they were included in this decision and the ships won’t welcome any passenger before this date.

Second, you actually read in my previous post (Return to Work) that I am back on the ship and the mission, now, is to repatriate crew members to their home country. So, you probably concluded that less and less crew members were onboard. Probably just a few hundreds, right? So why do we need a HR onboard just for people who are actually leaving the ship soon?

Woaw… Why HR? Why you? Let me tell you, it does hurt a little bit when you ask this question… 😉

But, alright, I understand. Let me explain then

My colleagues are onboard for a while (more than 6 months) and it is time to replace them. They deserve to rest and I am ready to help. That is actually quite a good reason. Still not convinced, huh? Okay, I continue.

Crew members are still not all at home. We continue our repatriation journey. HR is the first point of contact for the crew and they still have questions about when and where they are going to be debarked. HR helps with this repatriation process and the debarkation of all crew members.

More than that, HR has an highly valuable position onboard. Not the same as the job on land, where everyone hates the HR department and thinks they are bloody useless and where companies have no clue what HR means.
Not on a cruise ship. If you read my previous post about the Shipboard HR Manager position, you know that I am quite busy to maintain the crew morale and that human beings don’t act the same way when they live and work in this particular confined environment, 24/7, for so many months.

In addition to that, think about the current situation (yes of course I am talking about Covid-19): crew members are stuck on ships for many more months because they can’t debark when they have to because governments don’t accept them anymore. While they are waiting, they cannot touch any land. Now, everytime a ship docks, crew members are not allowed to leave, even for a minute. They stay on the ship. Could you now imagine hundreds of crew members stuck on a ship for the last 4 months? For the last 6 months? For the last 8 months? For the last 12 months????? 
These crew can’t communicate with their family everyday, because of the satellite connexion or the time zones’ differences. They know their families are stuggling back home. You know why. You all saw crazy people fighting for pasta and toilet paper rolls… And crew members are stuck on the ship, helpless.
These times are complicated for all of us and it’s even worse for a seafarer. You might also have seen, in the media, that a few seafarers sadly passed away. Some from natural causes, some also took their life as they couldn’t deal with this pressure anymore.

In conclusion...

So, ships are still in operation to repatriate their crew, and as we need to move the ships, we always need our Bridge Officers, our Able Seamen, our Engineers and Wipers, our Electricians, IT Technicians, our Cooks, our Housekeepers…. And a HR ready to support all this population in these difficult times.


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The author is a cruise ship officer and loves travelling around the world. He started the expatriation adventure in 2016. He is passionate about learning new cultures, about local food & beer. *Disclaimer: Opinions expressed are solely my own and do not express the views or opinions of my current employer or my previous employers*

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