Cruise Employment Legal Tips and Support

*This content is provided by Maritime Experts law firm.

CruiseJobFinder is committed to making your dream job in the cruise industry come true. We want your job to be an adventure and career just as you imagined it would be. We know that experienced maritime legal advice can help you reach that goal. We have contracted with Maritime Experts legal firm to provide free maritime legal support to discuss your cruise employment legal practices. These experts may be reached anytime by clicking here for detailed contact information. This is not an answering service. All phone, email, social media contacts are answered live.


Since working on a cruise ship means working on water (salt or fresh) you most likely qualify as a seaman under U.S. law. This has major consequences for you and your employer. In order to qualify as a seaman, you must: (1) Work on a vessel (ship – of any size) (2) the vessel must be in navigation (traveling over water or moored at a pier) (3) your work must contribute to the mission and function of the vessel. There are many extra benefits for you by being a seaman.


So who, exactly, is considered a seaman? If you look at CruiseJobFinder cruise jobs by category, which includes 35 job categories, every single job activity qualifies for seaman status, so long as your job is performed on a vessel in navigation. Examples – fitness trainer, casino worker, chef and helpers, all deck, engineering, skipper, wiper positions, maid and cleaning, hairdresser, retail sales, salon, spa, valet, childcare and on and on. What is very important is that your work is performed on a moving or moored vessel. No, you do not have to actually spend all of your time on the vessel. If you have shore duties that tied to your work on a vessel, this does not necessarily disqualify you as a seaman. An exception to the above: if you work on a foreign-flagged vessel, have a work-contract based on foreign law (Philippines is common), and the vessel itself has substantial operations outside U.S. territorial waters.


So, what is the big deal about qualifying as a U.S. seaman? A lot!

You get, by law, very valuable benefits which cannot be taken from you, even if you tried to waive seaman benefits by signing a contract that attempts to take seaman rights away from you. Waivers are illegal, and your rights still stand. So let us start by assuming you are a seaman. What extra benefits are you guaranteed? Let’s answer that question by example. Lets say: (1) you get sick while on board the vessel (even a toothache!) and you are unable to work for a while or for the rest of your contract – you are required to be paid all of your earnings for the full contract, and your employer has to pay your dental bill when you get back to land; (2) if you suffer a more serious medical problem (heart attack) you employer has a strict duty to get you medical help immediately even if it means diverting the ship, you get paid for the full amount of your contract; (3) while you are sick on land and treating your employer has to pay you a daily living maintenance, usually around $90/day; (4) your employer has to pay all of your medical expenses no matter how much it costs, how long it takes for you to recover; (5) you get to chose your own Dr. and medical facilities. Maritime Experts has cases where medical expense alone are more than $6,000,000 (liver failure), for example.


As a seaman, you are not a workers comp. claimant. You have more rights as a seaman. If you are injured while working, and your injury was caused by negligence or unseaworthiness, you have a right to bring a claim, in addition to all of your medical, living expense, unearned wages, for general damages and personal injury. This includes all pain and suffering associated with your injury, all wages you might otherwise have been able to earn working on land, and all future wages, to age 67, for the loss of your future work capacity, if your injury will keep from working you for the rest of your life. Also, if you were previously doing heavy-duty work, but now can only do lite duty,(for example, due to a back injury) you are entitled to the loss of the difference between what you previously could have earned, and the lesser amount you earn can post-injury.

Personal Injury Claims

It is important for you to read and review the separate Section on this site titled Cruise Injury Legal Info. There are some very strict rules that must be followed when filing an injury claim. Summarizing, you should talk to an experienced maritime attorney immediately – do not delay – Maritime Experts are experienced maritime lawyers who have handled hundreds of cruise claims. You can reach them immediately by clicking here. You must immediately document the accident – take pictures, identify and get information from witnesses. You may be asked to fill out a blizzard of paperwork – make a statement and fill in an accident report – you should do this but only after talking to Maritime Experts first for assistance on how to do this. Your employer may ask you to sign a release so that they may obtain medical and related records. This is something you should do when asked. You need not worry about case expenses if you do file a claim as those will be covered by Maritime Experts. Also, if your case is worth pursuing Maritime Experts only charges on a contingency fee basis – no charge unless you win and then only a negotiated percentage of your recovery. Finally, it doesn’t matter where you are in the world when injured and it doesn’t matter where you live. Maritime Experts handles claims all over the U.S. and originating within a foreign country.


While working a cruise job you will undoubtedly encounter passengers. You can do any passenger a real favor by letting them know some very basic rules which apply to passengers and not seaman. Under maritime law, a passengers ticket is actually a binding contract. Many times the ticket will have, sometimes in small print, conditions relating to what a passenger may expect when injured. Unlike you – as a seaman – a passenger’s rights can be severally limited by their ticket/contract. Often, a passenger must file a claim in Court in as little as five months. Passengers are also all on their own when it comes to medical expenses and assistance. While passengers do have a right to make a claim for personal injury it is more important than ever that a passenger immediately get maritime legal help. Help is available from Maritime Experts but passengers are not likely to know this or that their cruise ticket is a contract. You can do an injured passenger a very real service by informing them they need to act fast if this wish to preserve their right to recover damages. Maritime Experts handles many passenger claims as well. Passing along this information, and Maritime Experts contact information will help considerably.


You need to read this disclaimer carefully as it directly relates to all or your actual or potential rights above. There are many circumstances where a worker is doing cruise job work and does not qualify as a seaman even if your work is connected to a vessel, so you must not rely on the above for determining your legal rights. Also, there are many circumstances where a seaman is also covered by workers compensation and may benefit from both programs. This information is only intended to discuss in very general terms rights and entitlements of Jones Act/General maritime law seaman. There are many other programs, rights, duties, and obligations that may apply to you, such as workers compensation, employer benefit, and other programs, other Federal and State laws and programs. Other programs may have strict requirements not covered here that require you to file claims or paperwork within as little as ten days, and at specific locations or agencies and you could stand to lose these other rights by relying on this site for any purpose or reason. While Maritime Experts will discuss, in general terms, Jones Act/General maritime law this does not make you a client and does not create an attorney-client relationship. You must consult with your own attorney not only as to legal issues discussed by or through this site, but as to what all of your rights and entitlements may be. In general, if you do qualify as a Jones Act/General maritime law seaman you have three years from the date of injury to file a claim –but there are exceptions to this which may require you file a claim within 15 months or less. Failure to timely file a claim will result in the loss of your right to do so. Please also see the General Disclaimer on this site for services provided by Maritime Experts.