Cruise Ship Commerce – Getting Ready for Change

Go Lean Commentary

According to the following news article, Royal Caribbean Cruise Line (RCL) is presenting their new corporate executive for Human Resources (HR), Senior Vice-President Paul Parker.

Congratulations Mr. Parker; welcome to Caribbean Commerce. We are glad to have you participating in our regional marketplace and hope that you are ready for change; to make change and adapt to change.

Cruise 1

Title: Royal Caribbean Names New SVP
By: Caribbean Journal Staff

Royal Caribbean Cruises, Ltd has named Paul Parker its new senior vice president and chief human resources officer, the company announced.

Parker comes to the company after more than two decades of working in the human resources field, from Deloitte & Touche to Colgate Palmolive, among other stints.

Parker will report directly to the company’s president and COO, Adam Goldstein.

“What made Paul stand out for us during the interview process was his comprehensive knowledge of state-of-the-art best practices in human resources management,” Goldstein said. “His background and skills are ideally suited for the role of leading and managing our HR organization as we strive to identify, hire, develop, motivate and retain the best employees, both shipboard and shoreside, responsible for providing our guests with extraordinary vacations.”
Caribbean Journal – Regional News Magazine Site (Posted May 2, 2015; retrieved May 6, 2015) –

VIDEO – Royal Caribbean’s “Oasis of the Seas”: The Biggest Cruise Ship in the World –

Uploaded on Aug 22, 2011 – With twenty-one swimming pools, its own version of New York’s Central Park, and room for 5,400 passengers, the Oasis of the Seas is the most massive cruise ship ever built.

Mr. Parker will be based in the company’s headquarters* in Miami, FL#. So why is it that we say Caribbean commerce?

This is due to the fact that this cruise line “plies its trade” in the Caribbean region (waters and ports-of-call); even their name confesses this fact: Royal Caribbean. While the Port of Miami accommodated 4.8 million passengers in 2014, the truth is that these ones did not buy their cruise vacation to consume Miami, but rather to consume the Caribbean. We are the attraction!

In addition, many of the jobs on the ships are maintained by Caribbean workers.

This is good …

This is bad …

This is the focus of this commentary and advocacy. There are strict divisions of labor on cruise ships – wait staff and cabin stewards are reserved for citizens from Third World countries like the Caribbean and Asia – with terrible pay scales – while the officers/leadership roles are reserved for Europeans-only – Scandinavians proliferate. We appreciate the fact they set aside jobs for people of the Caribbean, but it is unacceptable that job advancements are unattainable. The resultant discrimination is real. Cruise ships, and other maritime vessels in general, are the last bastion of segregation. Descriptors like “modern-day-slavery”, “sweatships” and “extreme poverty” are far too common. Case in point, many ship-domestic staff are “tip earners”, paid only about US$50 a month and expected to survive on the generosity of the passengers’ gratuity. Another report have detailed this, here:

“The operation of the cruise ship is segregated by gender,” says Researcher Minghua Zhao, of the ITF-funded Seafarers’ International Research Centre at Cardiff University, “All the captains are men and no woman is found in deck and engine departments. Women concentrate in hotel, catering and other ‘non-technical’ sectors of the vessel.”

Nationality is another main factor in the allocation of jobs. Women from western and developed countries are far more likely to be found in a small number of management or administrative positions. They are also likely to be employed as entertainers, beauticians, nurses, aerobics leaders and receptionists.

On the other hand women from Asian and less developed countries are almost entirely employed in the “hotel” functions of the ship in catering, waiting and cabin staff positions.

Cruise 2

This is a human resource matter and thusly will be within the sphere of influence for the new HR executive at RCL. While many ships are only governed by maritime laws, injustice is injustice. Good shepherding of Caribbean economic eco-system requires some focus to these bad practices.

The book Go Lean…Caribbean opens with the thesis (Page 3) that the problems of the Caribbean are too big for any one member-state to tackle alone. Some of the most popular cruise destinations include the Bahamas, Jamaica, Cayman Islands and Saint Martin. Alone, these port cities/member states cannot effect change on this cruise line industry. But together, as one unified front, the chances for success improves exponentially. The unified front is the Caribbean Union Trade Federation (CU). The term Union is more than a coincidence; it was branded as such by design. The Go Lean book serves as a roadmap for the introduction and implementation of the CU.

The vision of this integration movement is for the region to function as a Single Market. The quotation from the Go Lean book continues in advocating that the Caribbean member-states (independent & dependent) lean-in to this plan for confederacy, convention and collaboration. This is Collective Bargaining 101. From the outset, the book recognized the significance of our exercising authority over the Caribbean Seas. This point was pronounced in the opening Declaration of Interdependence (Page 11):

v.  Whereas the natural formation of our landmass and coastlines entail a large portion of waterscapes, the reality of management of our interior calls for extended oversight of the waterways between the islands. The internationally accepted 12-mile limits for national borders must be extended by International Tribunals to encompass the areas in between islands. The individual states must maintain their 12-mile borders while the sovereignty of this expanded area, the Exclusive Economic Zone, must be vested in the accedence of this Federation.

The confederacy goal entails accepting that there is interdependence among the Caribbean member-states. Implementation-wise, this shifts the responsibility for cruise line negotiations to a region-wide, professionally-managed, deputized technocracy that can result in greater production and greater accountability.

An advocacy, in this case collective bargaining, on behalf of the oppressed workers in Caribbean waters is a just and honorable cause. The quest of this Go Lean movement is to make the Caribbean region better to live, work and play. Labor practices on cruise ships are therefore within scope of the CU.

This is the change … that now confronts the new RCL HR executive. But the CU quest to elevate Caribbean society should not run afoul of this or any cruise line’s modus operandii. The CU sets out to be their trading partner, not adversarial opponent. This should be win-win.

Nowhere else in the modern world is job discrimination encouraged, accepted or tolerated. The Caribbean demanding fair employment opportunities are therefore aligned with the Greater Good community ethos. Besides, these ships are conducting commerce in our neighborhood, so our community standards should apply. This is the change; consolidating the region so as to be able to leverage as one, a Single Market.

The end result? The goal of the CU is cataloged in the stated prime directives, identified with the following 3 statements:

  • Optimization of the economic engines in order to grow the regional economy to $800 Billion & create 2.2 million new jobs.
  • Establishment of a security apparatus to protect the resultant economic engines.
  • Improvement of Caribbean governance to support these engines.

The issue – cruise ship division of labor – being presented in this commentary is not the only focus of the Go Lean movement (book and blogs) relating to cruise commerce. There are so many societal defects associated with this eco-system; the corporate abuses of Big Cruises have been duly documented. Clearly this another example of crony-capitalism. Already, these previous blog/commentaries stressed different issues within the cruise industry space: Tobago: A Model for Cruise Tourism Electronic Payments– Ready for Change in Cruise Commerce Regional aviation dysfunction leading to more cruise traffic Hotels charging resort fees leading to more cruise traffic Epidemiology (Virus) protections for Caribbean & Cruise Tourism

The elevation of cruise commerce in the region is a mission within the Go Lean roadmap. The book details the applicable community ethos, strategies, tactics, implementation and advocacies to derive more benefits of regional cruise ship commerce and promote collective bargaining within the region:

Community Ethos – Economic Principles – People Respond to Incentives in Predictable   Ways Page 21
Community Ethos – Economic Principles – Economic Systems Influence Individual Choices Page 21
Community Ethos – Economic Principles – Consequences of Choices Lie in the Future Page 21
Community Ethos – Security Principles – Anti-Bullying and Mitigation Page 23
Community Ethos – Security Principles – Light Up the Dark Places Page 23
Community Ethos – Governing Principles – Lean Operations Page 24
Community Ethos – Governing Principles – Return on Investments (ROI) Page 24
Community Ethos – Governing Principles – Cooperatives Page 25
Community Ethos – Ways to Improve Negotiations – Cruise Line Collective Bargaining Page 32
Community Ethos – Ways to Improve Sharing Page 35
Community Ethos – Ways to Impact the Greater Good Page 37
Strategy – Vision – Confederate 30 Caribbean   Member-States Page 45
Strategy – Mission – Facilitate Transportation Efficiencies for Passengers & Ships Page 46
Strategy – Customers / Stakeholders – Business Community and Employees Page 48
Strategy – Customers / Stakeholders – Cruise Passengers Page 48
Strategy – Competitors – Visitors – Summer Caribbean Cruise -vs- Northern Vacation Page 55
Strategy – Core Competence – Cruise Tourism Page 58
Anecdote – Carnival Cruise Lines Strategies Page 61
Tactical – Foster a Technocracy Page 64
Tactical – Separation of Powers – Homeland Security – Coast Guard and Naval Authority Page 75
Tactical – Separation of Powers – Homeland Security – Emergency Management Page 76
Tactical – Separation of Powers – Commerce Department – Regional Tourism Coordination Page 78
Tactical – Separation of Powers – Labor Department – Labor Relations Board Page 89
Implementation – Start-up Benefits from the Exclusive Economic Zone of Caribbean Sea Page 104
Implementation – Ways to Deliver – Embracing a Technocratic Ethos Page 109
Planning – 10 Big Ideas – Confederation Without Sovereignty Page 127
Advocacy – Ways to Grow the Economy Page 151
Advocacy – Ways to Create Jobs Page 152
Advocacy – Ways to Impact Labor Unions – Partnerships with Labor & Management Page 164
Advocacy – Ways to Improve Governance Page 168
Advocacy – Ways to Manage Federal Civil Service – Meritocracy Labor standards Page 173
Advocacy – Ways to Foster Cooperatives Page 176
Advocacy – Improve Homeland Security – Emergency Management Readiness Page 180
Advocacy – Ways to Impact Cruise Tourism Page 193
Advocacy – Ways to Improve Emergency Management Page 196
Advocacy – Ways to Foster Ship-Building – Cruise Ship Dry-Dock Opportunities Page 209

The roadmap posits that the Caribbean must change … to adapt to a changing world; also asserting that the cruise line industry must change. This commentary specifically declares that Royal Caribbean Cruises Lines must change. This means you “Paul Parker”.

In the end, these changes will be for the better; for the Greater Good and to promote a better partnership for all cruise industry stakeholders, including the lowly wait and cabin staff who usually have no voice. Is there a danger that these CU/Go Lean demands (fair labor practices) may drive up costs of the product? Yes, absolutely!

But this has always been the argument for those resisting labor reforms: slavery, labor unions, child labor, occupational safety and minimum wage. This current industry defense seems like a “throwback” to the days of 1850 – ironic, considering that Mr. Parker was applauded for his “knowledge of state-of-the-art best practices in human resources management”. “Win-win” is still possible with Cruise Commerce; the industry suffers from staff retention due to this bad labor practices; in the end cruise ship can optimize their cost of labor acquisition and retention by following best practices. This should be self-evident!

Why has this labor status quo persisted for so long in the cruise industry? Supply and demand. The demand for Caribbean exotic cruise ports are high, while the supply of staffers from Third World countries is also high. The economic principles therefore forces downward pressure on labor prices. This is Bullying 101. Remediation of this type of conduct, like any other form of bullying, requires a superior power. In this case, it will be the Caribbean confederation and the accompanying authority for the Exclusive Economic Zone of the Caribbean Sea.

While we will weld some power, the region should consider it more of an honor to host 10 million visitors – as reported in the Go Lean book (Page 55) – who want to enjoy our hospitality … in conjunction with cruise ships from many North American points of embarkation. Our plea to these tourists is echoed in unison: Be Our Guest.

But our warning to cruise operators bent on abuse and oppression on our waters: Get Ready for Change.

Let us show the world why the Caribbean is the best destination – via cruise or otherwise – to live, work and play. 🙂

Download the free e-book of Go Lean … Caribbean – now!


Appendix * – Full Disclosure: At one point, this writer worked for Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines in Miami.


Appendix # – About the Port of Miami

The Port of Miami is among America’s busiest ports and recognized across the globe with the dual distinction of being the Cruise Capital of the World and the Cargo Gateway of the Americas. Port of Miami contributes more than $27 billion annually to the South Florida economy and helps generate 207,000 direct, indirect, and induced jobs. For more information please visit

For Fiscal Year 2015, the Port is servicing 34 ships and 15 different cruise brands, including: Aida Cruises, Azamara Club Cruises, Carnival Cruise Lines, Celebrity Cruises, Costa Cruises, Crystal Cruises, Disney Cruise Line, Hapag-Lloyd Cruises, MSC Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises, P&O Cruises, Regent Seven Seas Cruises, Resorts World Bimini, and Royal Caribbean International.

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