Deaf employed on cruise ships?

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#1
CA
4 Posts
Joined Apr 2017
My son is huge cruise enthusiast. He is only 15 years old but has been on quite a few cruises and DREAMS to someday work on a ship. He is deaf and I cannot find anything that says if any cruise lines employ the deaf. I do see that they must meet ADA standards - but mostly that seems for passengers. Any one know??
#2
SoCal
9,908 Posts
Joined Apr 2009
Originally posted by laceydoxie
My son is huge cruise enthusiast. He is only 15 years old but has been on quite a few cruises and DREAMS to someday work on a ship. He is deaf and I cannot find anything that says if any cruise lines employ the deaf. I do see that they must meet ADA standards - but mostly that seems for passengers. Any one know??
Seems like a question to be asked directly of the various cruise line personnel recruiters.

You should also point out that working onboard a ship is NOTHING like being a passenger. The hours are long and contracts are long (time you will be away from "home")
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#3
379 Posts
Joined Mar 2009
I don't think they have to meet any US employment non-discrimination laws. From a couple of books I've read, all crew and officer positions (I know some entertainment staff as well, but probably not headliners) require a physical and bloodwork, and they don't hire for many conditions that would be covered by the ADA.
#4
NYC
3,760 Posts
Joined Mar 2011
The ability to hear sounds and understand speech may well be a "bona fide occupational requirement". All crew members have a muster position and they must be able to hear the directions given to them. Cochlear implants are improving all the time but it's still a challenge for their users to understand speech - especially in environments full of background noise.

The ADA doesn't apply outside of the US. Your son's hearing impairment doesn't sound like there can be anything like "Reasonable Accommodation".
#5
Maine
11,345 Posts
Joined Feb 2013
Actually, the foreign flag cruise ships do not need to meet ADA requirements completely. The US Supreme Court, in "Spector v. NCL" ruled that ADA requirements that apply to the ship's "internal policies and procedures" do not have to abide by the ADA.

Now, the international STCW (Standards of Training, Competency, and Watchkeeping), which all nation's ships and mariners (anyone with an assigned emergency duty, in other words the whole crew on a cruise ship) must meet are listed here:

https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=...n7xwGiMUX96vXg

Without knowing your son's conditions, I would say that the chances of hiring a hearing impaired crew member is almost nil. The crew must be able to perform their assigned emergency duties without requiring assistance from another crew member. They must be able to hear emergency signals, and understand commands in situations where noise levels may be high.
#6
CA
4 Posts
Joined Apr 2017
wow, so hugely disappointing. I realize deaf still cannot enter military- I had no idea it was the same for cruise ships. I guess I have 5-10 years to find a way to make this happen for my son. I will explore Sub-contractors on cruise ships perhaps, or pray time improves technology or there's always the good old fashioned advocacy method. Hearing impaired people have had ability to drive cars since he 1920's but only recently did courts allow them to drive commercial vehicles after lawsuit against UPS. My dreams are intact, but a new challenge is now on my horizon Any more info or insight folks can offer would be useful thanks
#7
325 Posts
Joined May 2010
I have seen a sign language interpreter on a ship before. I don't know if she was a guest, or was someone that was working for them. Perhaps they have a part time "as needed" position for one.
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#8
Texas
703 Posts
Joined Jun 2008
Originally posted by trouble1964
I have seen a sign language interpreter on a ship before. I don't know if she was a guest, or was someone that was working for them. Perhaps they have a part time "as needed" position for one.
The interpreter was providing interpretation for a hearing impaired guest, not a crew member.
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#9
440 Posts
Joined Feb 2017
It's nice to know of your son's interest i. Potentially working on a cruise ship. May I politely suggest that at age 15 he be the one to take the lead to explore his future options - whatever his interests are.


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#10
Maine
11,345 Posts
Joined Feb 2013
Originally posted by laceydoxie
wow, so hugely disappointing. I realize deaf still cannot enter military- I had no idea it was the same for cruise ships. I guess I have 5-10 years to find a way to make this happen for my son. I will explore Sub-contractors on cruise ships perhaps, or pray time improves technology or there's always the good old fashioned advocacy method. Hearing impaired people have had ability to drive cars since he 1920's but only recently did courts allow them to drive commercial vehicles after lawsuit against UPS. My dreams are intact, but a new challenge is now on my horizon Any more info or insight folks can offer would be useful thanks
Unfortunately, the advocacy method will have little success. Realize that US labor, discrimination, and equal opportunity laws have virtually no jurisdiction over cruise ships, and that the regulations I cited are from international accords. While signatory nations (such as the Bahamas and Panama for most cruise ships, not the US, as the "flag state" laws apply) may institute more stringent requirements, they cannot enact less stringent requirements. So, your advocacy would have to be aimed at the IMO in London.

As to the contractors onboard (concessionaires, really), one of the conditions of the concession license is that the concessionaire's personnel will be assigned to emergency duties as the cruise line sees fit, so they fall under STCW fitness standards as well.

While the possibilities for your son are nearly limitless in the US, I'm afraid that barring some new technology that could give him hearing, that a career on a cruise ship is not one of them.

Even on US flag cruise ships (I worked the ones in Hawaii when there were 3), SOLAS and USCG regulations overrule ADA and other equal opportunity laws. We banned pregnant crew because they could not perform their safety duties, nor get into lifesaving equipment without assistance from other crew, therefore presenting a hazard to others.
#11
North Carolina Coast!, USA
5,945 Posts
Joined Oct 2002
Once we were on a cruise with deaf passengers. They were a group who must have booked together through an agency for the deaf. During the shows they all had the 1st two rows of seats in the theater on the starboard side. There was an interpreter standing with her back against the stage. She signed everything that was said or sung on the stage. It was a happy thing to see.
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#12
Pepsicola FL
10,264 Posts
Joined Feb 2006
Originally posted by laceydoxie
wow, so hugely disappointing. I realize deaf still cannot enter military- I had no idea it was the same for cruise ships. I guess I have 5-10 years to find a way to make this happen for my son. I will explore Sub-contractors on cruise ships perhaps, or pray time improves technology or there's always the good old fashioned advocacy method. Hearing impaired people have had ability to drive cars since he 1920's but only recently did courts allow them to drive commercial vehicles after lawsuit against UPS. My dreams are intact, but a new challenge is now on my horizon Any more info or insight folks can offer would be useful thanks

pipe dream at best. there are MANY things deaf people cannot be reasonably expected to do safely simply because they cannot hear. in no way is this discrimination, it is merely a facet of the job requirements. it is no different than being required to lift 100 pounds as a function of the job( working on farm and lifting hay bales) or needing normal color vision as an electrician.

the second nearly unsurmountable problem is the fact that he is American. the lines rarely hire Americans for most positions for a variety of reasons.
#13
Connecticut
12,011 Posts
Joined Sep 2005
Originally posted by spookwife
pipe dream at best. there are MANY things deaf people cannot be reasonably expected to do safely simply because they cannot hear. in no way is this discrimination, it is merely a facet of the job requirements. it is no different than being required to lift 100 pounds as a function of the job( working on farm and lifting hay bales) or needing normal color vision as an electrician.

the second nearly unsurmountable problem is the fact that he is American. the lines rarely hire Americans for most positions for a variety of reasons.
Well put. Accepting one's limitations is part of maturing - as is learning to realistically look beyond the glossy cover of an unread book. Except for the professionals: ships' officers and entertainment and hotel management directors, cruise ship jobs offer only hard work, long hours and low pay.
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#14
38 Posts
Joined Sep 2015
Originally posted by laceydoxie
My son is huge cruise enthusiast. He is only 15 years old but has been on quite a few cruises and DREAMS to someday work on a ship. He is deaf and I cannot find anything that says if any cruise lines employ the deaf. I do see that they must meet ADA standards - but mostly that seems for passengers. Any one know??
I would check with cruise companies that have smaller, more personalised service and don't have those mass hiring policies. Check with Uncruise Adventures. They operate out of Seattle and do Alaska and Hawaii. Also check the river cruise lines. Viking has their head office in California. American Cruise Lines is another possibility. I believe they are required to only hire Americans as they operate only within the country (re: Jones Act). Do some checking with those 3 and you'll likely get some more solid answers. Good luck to your son. 😊

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#15
Enosburg Falls, VT
17,444 Posts
Joined Apr 2009
Originally posted by croozin4life
I would check with cruise companies that have smaller, more personalised service and don't have those mass hiring policies. Check with Uncruise Adventures. They operate out of Seattle and do Alaska and Hawaii. Also check the river cruise lines. Viking has their head office in California. American Cruise Lines is another possibility. I believe they are required to only hire Americans as they operate only within the country (re: Jones Act). Do some checking with those 3 and you'll likely get some more solid answers. Good luck to your son. 😊

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Where a cruise line has their corporate office has no impact on the flag being flown on the ship- I believe that both NCL and CCL have their offices in Miami. NCL has the Pride of America that is US flagged but as chengkp75 points out other regulations supersede the application of the ADA to crew members. I certainly wish OP's son well but agree with others that he should focus his career choice working ashore.
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#16
38 Posts
Joined Sep 2015
Originally posted by sparks1093
Where a cruise line has their corporate office has no impact on the flag being flown on the ship- I believe that both NCL and CCL have their offices in Miami. NCL has the Pride of America that is US flagged but as chengkp75 points out other regulations supersede the application of the ADA to crew members. I certainly wish OP's son well but agree with others that he should focus his career choice working ashore.
That wasn't my point. I'm fully aware where everyone's offices are. Since I work in the business myself, I recommended talking to those ones as they are easy to talk to their HR and I know their hiring process is different. Since none of us are experts on the subject, I think giving her some options to explore is better than telling her there is no hope for her son. I'm sure she's heard that enough. There's still more research she can do.

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#17
172 Posts
Joined Aug 2017
Originally posted by laceydoxie
My son is huge cruise enthusiast. He is only 15 years old but has been on quite a few cruises and DREAMS to someday work on a ship.
my 6 year old is the same... But I keep explaining to him that WORKING on a cruise is not the same as cruising for fun. He still doesn't get the concept of working, poor lad.

Except for the professionals: ships' officers and entertainment and hotel management directors, cruise ship jobs offer only hard work, long hours and low pay.
and very cramped quarters.
That's why you see all the foreigners filling the waiting and cleaning staff positions. To them $5/h is a lot of money, but it's not a lot for an American.
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#18
3,054 Posts
Joined Nov 2004
I wish your son the best in whatever career path he chooses. My boys both wanted to work on cruises ships also but as they approached high school graduation and college, they seemed to forget about it and focused on other fields. After the FBI tour, they also wanted to be FBI agents. So did my husband.....

My unsolicited advice would be to let him enjoy his high school years and allow his career path to develop naturally.


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#19
Enosburg Falls, VT
17,444 Posts
Joined Apr 2009
Originally posted by croozin4life
That wasn't my point. I'm fully aware where everyone's offices are. Since I work in the business myself, I recommended talking to those ones as they are easy to talk to their HR and I know their hiring process is different. Since none of us are experts on the subject, I think giving her some options to explore is better than telling her there is no hope for her son. I'm sure she's heard that enough. There's still more research she can do.

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Actually chengkp75 is an expert since he has spent 42 years working in commercial shipping and he provided a very informative link to what the hearing requirements are for mariners. He also addressed US flagged ships in a follow on post pointing out that there are other laws that apply to mariners that nullify the ADA. I am not one that is into giving someone false hope.
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Cruise photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/sparks1093/

Previous cruises:

NCL Dream CTN May 2008
NCL Sky Bahamas April 2009 http://www.cruisecritic.com/memberre...?EntryID=54257
NCL Sky Bahamas April 2010 http://www.cruisecritic.com/memberre...?EntryID=66539
CCL Pride Bahamas October 2012 http://www.cruisecritic.com/memberre...EntryID=110323
NCL Gem Bahamas May 2014 http://www.cruisecritic.com/memberre...EntryID=255699
CCL Fascination S. Caribbean October 2016 http://www.cruisecritic.com/memberre...EntryID=551888

US Navy, too many to count but included 4 Med cruises (totaling 21 months) 1975-1992

I cruise because that's where the ocean is.

It beats haze gray and underway any day!
#20
38 Posts
Joined Sep 2015
Originally posted by sparks1093
Actually chengkp75 is an expert since he has spent 42 years working in commercial shipping and he provided a very informative link to what the hearing requirements are for mariners. He also addressed US flagged ships in a follow on post pointing out that there are other laws that apply to mariners that nullify the ADA. I am not one that is into giving someone false hope.
Oh my goodness. I gave suggestions for her to contact those HR departments to get some clear answers from them. Move on. Enjoy your day. Seriously!!

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