Fear and Trembling of Cruise Ship Employees: Psychological Effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic
2. Literature Review
2.1. Well-Being and Life Satisfaction of Cruise Ship Employees
2.2. Ethical Statement
3.1. Overview and Qualitative Procedure
3.2. Research Design and Data Analysis
4. Psychological Effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Cruise Ship Employees Stuck at Sea
4.1. Demographic Profile of Participants
4.2. The Anxiety and Its Effects on Cruise Ship Employees
My contract was until July 2020. The company unilaterally stopped it on 30 March and since then (today is 22 May) they are holding me onboard without pay. My family needs financial support and I am unable to provide them financial support because my company doesn’t want to pay for the charter flight, and the CDC is not allowing the company to send me home with a commercial flight.(Cruise ship employee No. 4)
I fear that my son won’t recognize me when I come home. I am already 9 months onboard. I have to wear a mask while I talk to my son, and he always asks me to remove my mask because he can’t see me. I can’t hold off my tears when he tells me this.(Cruise ship employee No. 2)
I am constantly tired although I am not working. With too much pressure on my shoulders, too much free time to think about all the possible things that can go wrong, locked inside my cabin, when night comes I can’t fall asleep. I force myself to sleep, only to wake up every 2–3 h. looking at my watch asking myself when will this agony come to an end.(Cruise ship employee No. 9)
4.3. Depression and Its Effects on Cruise Ship Employees
This hopelessness, confusion, sadness, and longing. Some of us have finished our contracts two months ago and since then we are not paid. There are people on board who are here for more than 7 months. It’s very hard for all of us and none of psychologist and none of that nonsense talk will help us. Just look at the people who have committed suicide in the last 10 days. I think there were 4 or 5 suicides by crew members who were stuck at sea. This is terrible. People are on the edge and most of the people are broken beyond repair.(Cruise ship employee No. 7)
By some law, we should have recreational space and space for socializing like crew bar or similar space. The CDC forbids the usage of crew gym, crew bar, or anything where we can group for socializing. I come from a society where we live in small and large groups caring for each other. This is also how we behave while we are on the ship. Now we can’t do that, so I fell very lonely, sad, and depressed.(Cruise ship employee No. 3)
Yes, I miss my family and friends from home very much! The internet is very, very slow and sometimes we are without a connection for 5 to 6 times per day. The company refuses to increase the speed of the Internet. So if we buy an internet package then the internet works fast and the connection is not interrupted. I wonder how is that possible? I can barely get in touch with my lovely mom to cheer me up. I can’t use video calls, I can’t send/receive pictures and definitely, I can’t send video. I cannot see my family. I think some of us have purchased an Internet plan and we are not under contracts and not getting paid more than 60 days.(Cruise ship employee No. 8)
4.4. The Stress and Its Effects on Cruise Ship Employees
I am in no control of my own life. I am afraid of what tomorrow will bring. I feel paralyzed and I can’t think straight anymore. On top of that I live in a small dirty cabin, every day I experience poor crew office service, I don’t feel respected by anyone, I can’t eat at the buffet when I feel hungry, I can’t buy alcoholic drinks as much as I want to, I don’t have decent internet service. When I call to crew office to ask about things that are broken in my cabin – they hang up the phone on me. People are getting rude. I just want my life back!!! I’m fed up, fed up, and fed up!(Cruise ship employee No. 5)
I feel stressed and furious. If the President of the IMO, CDC, or whatever had a kid or spouse stuck on a ship would they not do everything to get them home? It’s common sense to allow crew members to go to their homes. Did you know that 5 crew members committed suicide in the last 10 days? Do you know why they did it? Because they couldn’t cope with stress, so what do you think will happen if this drags for another two months or until 24 July 2020 when the No Sail Order comes to an end?! Governments around the world need to step up and help their citizens who are crew members, and the CDC needs to come forward towards an agreement with an international organization and various governments.(Cruise ship employee No. 4)
Every question we asked we get an answer “We don’t know” or “We are not sure”. We are really worried about our future and our mental health because this is a situation without a solution. We are not getting paid, we can’t buy drinks, the gym is closed, and there are no activities that would relax us here onboard. When you want to buy morning coffee you need to wait in line for 1 h, because the ship is understaffed. Of course all of us are very stressed in this situation. Today security called us in cabins to ask for the names of people who were protesting yesterday. It is serious retaliation and this is against human rights. It feels like none of us have a right to say our opinion. We just want the world to hear us because all of us just want to go home to be with our families.(Cruise ship employee No. 1)
4.5. A New Hope for Cruise Ship Employees
We should not only look into the cruise companies and what they are doing. Have faith and hope. Talk to each other about what’s good. Somebody out there anywhere in the world is battling for their life in this pandemic. Come to think of the other perspective. After all of this darkness and rain, there will be light and rainbow and a brighter future. One day all of this will be the history which we will tell to our grandchildren. It would be a story of how we coped with a crisis and survived. All this will probably help us to be better people.(Cruise ship employee No. 6)
To those people who are saying that we need to wait, put yourselves in our shoes, that is come on the ship that has a COVID-19 outbreak. This is day 61 of our isolation excluding the days when we were at sea before we started isolation. Almost 2.5 months without contact with other people. We are only asking for one thing, send us back home to our families.(Cruise ship employee No. 4)
No, I don’t think that office people are doing everything in their power to get us home. Crew members should be respected way more than they have been. If the company continues this horrible management of their crew members, the day will come when no one will work for them and they will fail as a company. Everything starts at the top. Horrible leadership! I have lost all faith in this company. I am just tired of all the lies and their failure to care about people. True colors came out in tough times. This is no way to treat anyone. So sad!(Cruise ship employee No. 8)
Yes, they are doing their best. I don’t understand why media is bad mouthing cruise lines and they can’t understand that some countries are not accepting their crew members coming from cruise ships. Beside me, my sister is working on a cruise ship and we are from Trinidad and Tobago, and my sister’s boyfriend who also works on a cruise ship is from Nicaragua. All of us are not allowed by our countries to come back home. However, all you read is how cruise companies are bad and no one is accusing countries like ours who are not allowing us to come back home. This is hypocrisy! I can tell you that our company is looking after us while we are on board.(Cruise ship employee No. 9)
5.1. COVID-19 Pandemic Psychological Effects on Cruise Ship Employees
5.2. Practical Implications
5.3. Limitations and Future Research
Conflicts of Interest
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|Cruise Ship Code Number||Age||Nationality||Gender||Department/Sub Department/Working Role|
|employee No. 1||32||Croatia||Male||Hotel/Food and beverage/|
|employee No. 2||33||India||Male||Hotel/Housekeeping/|
Assistant stateroom host
|employee No. 3||29||Indonesia||Female||Hotel/Food and beverage/|
Assistant bar server
|employee No. 4||37||Serbia||Male||Hotel/Food and beverage/|
|employee No. 5||40||Philippines||Female||Hotel/Housekeeping |
|employee No. 6||43||Philippines||Female||Hotel/Housekeeping/|
|employee No. 7||26||UK||Female||Entertainment/Theater/|
Main stage performer
|employee No. 8||37||Philippines||Male||Marine and technical/Deck/|
|employee No. 9||32||Trinidad and Tobago||Female||Hotel/Guest services/Purser|
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Radic, A.; Lück, M.; Ariza-Montes, A.; Han, H. Fear and Trembling of Cruise Ship Employees: Psychological Effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17, 6741. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17186741
Radic A, Lück M, Ariza-Montes A, Han H. Fear and Trembling of Cruise Ship Employees: Psychological Effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2020; 17(18):6741. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17186741Chicago/Turabian Style
Radic, Aleksandar, Michael Lück, Antonio Ariza-Montes, and Heesup Han. 2020. "Fear and Trembling of Cruise Ship Employees: Psychological Effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic" International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 17, no. 18: 6741. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17186741