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onlyslightlymad

Norwegian Flag

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I have yet to voyage on Viking (and not likely to have the opportunity in the near future).  I do have a question regarding the fact that the ships carry the flag of Norway.  Does this mean that the cruise line is bound by Norwegian labour laws?  If so, that would encourage me to sail on Viking.  I have enjoying cruising on Celebrity and NCL in the past but am always uncomfortable with the flags of convenience and the reasoning behind them.  I know part of it is a tax dodge but I also realise that some cruise lines do take advantage of exploitative labour practices.  I was hoping that the Norwegian flag might be a sign that Viking has different standards.  I would be happier cruising if I knew the staff were not being exploited.

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Posted (edited)

You will not be happier. The fact that they expect you to pay salaries via prepaid "gratuities" makes them no better than the rest.

Edited by duquephart

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8 hours ago, onlyslightlymad said:

I have yet to voyage on Viking (and not likely to have the opportunity in the near future).  I do have a question regarding the fact that the ships carry the flag of Norway.  Does this mean that the cruise line is bound by Norwegian labour laws?  If so, that would encourage me to sail on Viking.  I have enjoying cruising on Celebrity and NCL in the past but am always uncomfortable with the flags of convenience and the reasoning behind them.  I know part of it is a tax dodge but I also realise that some cruise lines do take advantage of exploitative labour practices.  I was hoping that the Norwegian flag might be a sign that Viking has different standards.  I would be happier cruising if I knew the staff were not being exploited.

 

While the Viking ships are registered in Norway and fly the Norwegian Flag, you should be aware that Norway has 2 separate Ship Registries - Norway Ship Registry (NOR) and Norway International Ship Registry (NIS). Ships engaged in coastal trade (NOR), such as local ferries, most likely must comply with Norway's shore based labour laws.

 

The NIS, which I believe is where the Viking ships are registered, was created to provide an opportunity for ship owners to fly the Norwegian Flag and also compete with FoC ships on a more even playing field. However, at a minimum, all ships regardless of Flag, must comply with Maritime Labour Convention (MLC 2006), which came into force about 2013.

 

I note that recently a CMV ship was arrested in Tilbury by the UK's MCA for contraventions of MLC 2006.

 

The Viking terms and conditions of employment are one of the best, if not the best in the marine industry, which is why they have a crew retention rate of about 96%. They generally work less hours per day than other cruise lines and cabin stewards have less cabins to clean. Viking also has an exceptional crew training and mentoring program for the crew, which is provided during their regular working hours.

 

Aboard ship, they also receive free wi-fi allowing crew to remain in contact with family ashore. Their shift schedules are also superior, with ratings on a 6 months on and 2 months off schedule. They normally know their schedule 3 contracts in advance with embarkation/disembarkation dates and ports.

 

During the COVID issue, the crews remaining aboard Viking ships received 50% of their wages and if they were disembarked, they continued to receive a portion of their wages, until the end of the contract. Crew at home, upon the start of their contracts they started receiving a portion of their wages. Haven't been aboard a ship for 4 months, so not sure if that has changed.

 

Suffice to say, aboard the Viking Sun, after a crew meeting in the Theatre advising them of the shut down, the crew were extremely happy with the company.

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Thank you, Heidi.  That is just what I wanted to know.  I will definitely try a Viking cruise when we emerge into the post-Covid world.

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12 hours ago, duquephart said:

You will not be happier. The fact that they expect you to pay salaries via prepaid "gratuities" makes them no better than the rest.

Yes, the whole prepaid gratuities thing is ridiculous.  Just advertise the full fare and pay the staff accordingly.  Why have a gratuity add on for any cruise?  I'd rather know what I was paying up front.

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I don't see how you could make Viking crew members "fake" the enthusiasm they have for their jobs whether on board an ocean or river cruise.  They know and have seen or experienced the company's program of advancement to higher paid positions of greater responsibility.  They execute their duties in a professional and expert manner.  I've never seen or experienced a "That's not my job" moment, but instead "let me fix that now."  

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I've always been impressed with Viking attitudes. People are upbeat, happy to be working there, delighted with any supplemental tips. It makes a difference in my trip.

 

Many have impressive dreams. Buying a restaurant back home, hope opening a bar, etc. One person said they've already financed three residential solar rigs in their home village. With customer facing staff, I see happy people.

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I would just like to mention that Holland America Line ships are registered in The Netherlands, but that hasn't kept them from hiring mostly 3rd world employees, and making them work long hours with little pay.

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Being happy to have a job and being happy IN their job are two different things. Third world people kissing your ass to keep their job or increase their "gratuities" is not a recent phenomena.

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23 minutes ago, duquephart said:

Being happy to have a job and being happy IN their job are two different things. Third world people kissing your ass to keep their job or increase their "gratuities" is not a recent phenomena.

I have never seen anyone on this board with a more negative outlook than you.   I am sorry but it's gotten to the point that I recognize your posts without even seeing you posted it.   People can be happen in their jobs and take excellent care  of you because they like doing their job well. It is not always about money like your posts always seem to suggest.  There are lots of things in life much more important than money.  There are many folks that recognize this fact.  I feel sorry for you that you are not one of them.

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2 minutes ago, Dukefan said:

I have never seen anyone on this board with a more negative outlook than you.   I am sorry but it's gotten to the point that I recognize your posts without even seeing you posted it.   People can be happen in their jobs and take excellent care  of you because they like doing their job well. It is not always about money like your posts always seem to suggest.  There are lots of things in life much more important than money.  There are many folks that recognize this fact.  I feel sorry for you that you are not one of them.

 

What color are the leaves on your planet?

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11 hours ago, duquephart said:

 

What color are the leaves on your planet?

A very intellectual response - unfortunately you did not disappoint.   The planet I live on is filled with people that see the best of what life and its experiences are about and unfortunately a few that don't.    Some of them even post comments about "gratuities" 5 or 6 times a month.  By the way whatever Vikings policy is on gratuities, ever cruise member that I have talked on my Viking Cruises with sings the praises of their Viking experience often sharing with me how much better it is than with the other cruise lines that they have worked for.  On your next Viking cruise spent some time while you are on board talking with the staff and see what they have to say about their Viking experience.

 

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Dukefan said:

A very intellectual response - unfortunately you did not disappoint.   The planet I live on is filled with people that see the best of what life and its experiences are about and unfortunately a few that don't.    Some of them even post comments about "gratuities" 5 or 6 times a month.  By the way whatever Vikings policy is on gratuities, ever cruise member that I have talked on my Viking Cruises with sings the praises of their Viking experience often sharing with me how much better it is than with the other cruise lines that they have worked for.  On your next Viking cruise spent some time while you are on board talking with the staff and see what they have to say about their Viking experience.

 

 

Can you substantiate your "5 or 6 times a month" claim? I'm hardly the only person here who questions how "gratuities" are gathered and distributed. I have no problem with the people to whom they are reputedly paid. Is Viking really so "much better" than all the other cruise lines in this regard or any other? How do the others remain in operation if Viking is so superior? If I become another of the vociferous Viking cheerleaders who abound here will you be happier with my posts?

Edited by duquephart

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1 minute ago, duquephart said:

 

Can you substantiate your "5 or 6 times a month" claim? I'm hardly the only person here who questions how "gratuities" are gathered and distributed. I have no problem with the people to whom they are reputedly paid. Is Viking really so "much better" than all the other cruise lines in this regard or any other. If I become another of the vociferous Viking cheerleaders who abound here will you be happier with my posts?

Duquephart - I admit I exaggerated on the number of times a month that you expressed your displeasure with Viking's Gratuity Policy.  I apologize for this exaggeration.  This series of posts started with a question about how Viking employees are treated.   Your comment did not really address this question but entered into it one of your complainants about Viking that you throw out in response to several different posts that I have read over the past year or so.   I reacted the second time you brought it up in this short series of posts because it was something that bothered me.  If was probably a totally inappropriate  post by me.   I am sorry. 

 

If I appear to be a Viking Cheerleader - I am.   We have been fortunate enough over the past twenty years to sail on most of the major cruise lines and Viking happens to impress us as great value for our money.   They are not the best cruise line in everything they do but I particularly like the quality of their staff, their adult only focus,  the size of their ships, the layout of their cabins, and the non-"nickle and dime" approach to their offering.  I thoroughly love their fitness center and spa.  Since most of our cruising is done based on the cruise itinerary, will all our future cruises be on Viking - no.   But if it comes down to them and almost any other cruise line for the same itinerary, we will be sailing Viking. With regard to you becoming a Viking Cheerleader, you like all of us, are free to "be a cheerleader" for any cruise line we want.  I don't believe any of us on this board will care who you are "cheer leading".  By the way, which cruise line's gratuity policy do you really like, since you seem to be knowledgeable in this particular area and it seems to be, based on your posts, one of your major hot topics?   

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25 minutes ago, Dukefan said:

By the way, which cruise line's gratuity policy do you really like, since you seem to be knowledgeable in this particular area and it seems to be, based on your posts, one of your major hot topics?   

 

Dukefan - excellent responses.

 

I suggest this could be the classic example of a little knowledge...... The actual workings of the discretionary charges are a closely guarded secret, at least on the cruise lines I know. When our son was Senior 2nd he was not privy to the program and even good friends that are Masters or Pursers/Hotel GM's don't discuss any specifics of the subject.

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5 hours ago, Heidi13 said:

 

Dukefan - excellent responses.

 

I suggest this could be the classic example of a little knowledge...... The actual workings of the discretionary charges are a closely guarded secret, at least on the cruise lines I know. When our son was Senior 2nd he was not privy to the program and even good friends that are Masters or Pursers/Hotel GM's don't discuss any specifics of the subject.

 

There's a close parallel in the restaurant industry's treatment of the "tip jar" for employees. 

 

Although (US) state laws are very precise about who may share tips, they usually limit participation to staff who have a sub-minimum wage exemption. Not withstanding, many restaurants had managers, captains, somms, hostesses, and back of the house staff dipping in on a regular basis. NY's investigation of tip abuses was one of the strings which unraveled a nasty sexual harassment dark side to the industry.

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On 8/3/2020 at 3:13 PM, onlyslightlymad said:

I know part of it is a tax dodge but I also realise that some cruise lines do take advantage of exploitative labour practices.  I was hoping that the Norwegian flag might be a sign that Viking has different standards.  I would be happier cruising if I knew the staff were not being exploited.

As Andy (Heidi13) has said, all cruise lines must abide by the MLC 2006 labor convention, which relates to wages, health, safety, and living conditions of all seafarers.  While cruise line crew wages may be considered "exploitative" to first world citizens, they are no lower than crew on the vast majority of ships plying the oceans today, and are considered to be "decent" and "good" wages in their home country.  The same with working conditions.  If anyone has a problem with crews being "exploited" by shipping lines, they only need to look at their own governments, who are members of the IMO and the ILO, and who voted to approve the MLC 2006 as an IMO convention, and then ratified it by making it's provisions into law in each member nation.

 

Andy and I, and a very few others on CC, have actually had the opportunity of working with the international cruise crews, and the vast majority do not feel "exploited".

 

As for "DSC" ( I won't call it "gratuities"), I don't get into these threads, and how the money is collected or distributed is irrelevant, but each crew member knows up front, what part of their compensation package comes from "wages" and what comes from "DSC", so anyone who is vitally interested in the topic should ask the crew to see their employment contract, to see what is truth and what is fiction.  End of discussion.

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54 minutes ago, chengkp75 said:

As Andy (Heidi13) has said, all cruise lines must abide by the MLC 2006 labor convention, which relates to wages, health, safety, and living conditions of all seafarers.  While cruise line crew wages may be considered "exploitative" to first world citizens, they are no lower than crew on the vast majority of ships plying the oceans today, and are considered to be "decent" and "good" wages in their home country.  The same with working conditions.  If anyone has a problem with crews being "exploited" by shipping lines, they only need to look at their own governments, who are members of the IMO and the ILO, and who voted to approve the MLC 2006 as an IMO convention, and then ratified it by making it's provisions into law in each member nation.

 

Andy and I, and a very few others on CC, have actually had the opportunity of working with the international cruise crews, and the vast majority do not feel "exploited".

 

As for "DSC" ( I won't call it "gratuities"), I don't get into these threads, and how the money is collected or distributed is irrelevant, but each crew member knows up front, what part of their compensation package comes from "wages" and what comes from "DSC", so anyone who is vitally interested in the topic should ask the crew to see their employment contract, to see what is truth and what is fiction.  End of discussion.

 

Refreshing to see someone else having a problem with the semantics. Whatever it is, Viking's choice of what to call it and their obfuscation of what it is rankles. Do crew really know "up front" the % of their compensation that comes directly from you or I? If a portion of their compensation came from actual gratuities in the common use of the word their pay would vary, perhaps wildly, from cruise to cruise --- would it not? I believe it's pretty clear that "gratuities" are really contributions to the payroll fund of the company. A slush fund if you will. Count me among those who feel that including these payments in the cost of the product would be much more transparent and much less annoying.

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10 minutes ago, duquephart said:

 

Refreshing to see someone else having a problem with the semantics. Whatever it is, Viking's choice of what to call it and their obfuscation of what it is rankles. Do crew really know "up front" the % of their compensation that comes directly from you or I? If a portion of their compensation came from actual gratuities in the common use of the word their pay would vary, perhaps wildly, from cruise to cruise --- would it not? I believe it's pretty clear that "gratuities" are really contributions to the payroll fund of the company. A slush fund if you will. Count me among those who feel that including these payments in the cost of the product would be much more transparent and much less annoying.

I will go down the "DSC" rabbit hole for this one post.  Yes, it is explicitly spelled out in the crew's employment contract, that they sign when joining the ship, what percentage of their compensation comes from "wages" and what percentage comes from "DSC", which may vary from cruise to cruise.  However, since the MLC went into effect in 2013, there is a minimum wage for all seafarers, which is currently $641/month, based on a 40 hour work week, and with hours in excess of 40/week paid at 125% of the base wage.  Now, how much of that minimum wage is "wage" and how much is "DSC" is up to the cruise line, the crew member, and the crew member's national labor union or collective bargaining agency, but if the amount of DSC that is removed from the "pool" means that the crew's salary drops below the statutory minimum, then the cruise line has to step in and make up the difference.  So, the minimum wage for a crew member would be anywhere between $641 to about $1400/month (based on a 84 hour work week).  Why the DSC is used, I have discussed many times in past posts, and won't get into that here.

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If anyone feels the gratuity policy is wrong don't follow it. I don't agree with it so I personally go to the service desk and have my own gratuities removed from being changed to me while leaving it in my wifes charges. We then use my gratuity amount to hand out to the workers that helped us enjoy our Viking cruise the most. Just small conversations with Viking cruise staff shows they seem happy and not just fishing for tips. The staff enjoy talking about their home counties and family and how they are new places and meet nice people on viking. On one of my Viking river cruises, the staff made some special dish from their country after some guests said their food sounded so good during a conversation. The guests didn't complain about Viking food, since someone might comment negatively, they just were being friendly. 

Have fun on a cruise don't start off by complaining of looking for complaints. Be glad we can travel again once this China pandemic is gone.

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In conversations with Viking staff (bar tenders, restaurant servers, medical staff, etc) it's clear to me that they consider the jobs to be extremely good jobs.  With an opportunity to save a lot of money and get a head start on a good future back in their home countries.

 

 

 

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1 hour ago, Cienfuegos said:

In conversations with Viking staff (bar tenders, restaurant servers, medical staff, etc) it's clear to me that they consider the jobs to be extremely good jobs.  With an opportunity to save a lot of money and get a head start on a good future back in their home countries.

 

 

 

I agree completely with your post.   I have had a significant number of wonderful conversations with many of the Viking Crew from the bar tender while enjoying my per dinner cocktail, to my room stewards, for the wait staff in the restaurants, to the folks in the spa.  I have never met a Viking Crew member yet that doesn't love their job and believe Viking is the best line they ever crewed on.   Since I have traveled on many cruise lines and have had these type of conversations with the crew members that I encounter on each of them, I have a fairly good idea of of they each compare.  My experience has been that Viking Crew members seem to be the happiest with their employer.  Has everyone of you had a different experience?

 

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2 hours ago, duquephart said:

If a portion of their compensation came from actual gratuities in the common use of the word their pay would vary, perhaps wildly, from cruise to cruise --- would it not?

 

In all likelyhood, the cruise lines know with a fair amount of accuracy what the gratuities for any given cruise will be based on past history, occupancy levels and other factors.  The historical data is probably analyzed every which way to Sunday and they can produce forecasts. Yes, the amount may vary from cruise to cruise, but the average will hold over time.

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5 hours ago, Pyroforyou said:

If anyone feels the gratuity policy is wrong don't follow it. I don't agree with it so I personally go to the service desk and have my own gratuities removed from being changed to me while leaving it in my wifes charges. We then use my gratuity amount to hand out to the workers that helped us enjoy our Viking cruise the most. Just small conversations with Viking cruise staff shows they seem happy and not just fishing for tips. The staff enjoy talking about their home counties and family and how they are new places and meet nice people on viking. On one of my Viking river cruises, the staff made some special dish from their country after some guests said their food sounded so good during a conversation. The guests didn't complain about Viking food, since someone might comment negatively, they just were being friendly. 

Have fun on a cruise don't start off by complaining of looking for complaints. Be glad we can travel again once this China pandemic is gone.

Actually, my objection to the "gratuity" policy is not the payment of it but the way it is an add on.  Just include it in the price up front and pay the staff a decent wage.  The whole idea of passing over cash to people on a grace and favour basis would make me very uncomfortable.  It is simply not part of my culture and is certainly not a practice that I wish to adopt.

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8 hours ago, onlyslightlymad said:

Actually, my objection to the "gratuity" policy is not the payment of it but the way it is an add on.  Just include it in the price up front and pay the staff a decent wage.  The whole idea of passing over cash to people on a grace and favour basis would make me very uncomfortable.  It is simply not part of my culture and is certainly not a practice that I wish to adopt.

 

Not an issue for cruises booked in UK/AU/NZ where shipboards gratuities are included in the cruise fare.

 

Here is what it says under the booking terms and conditions link on the AU site:

*All fares and offers are for new bookings made between 01 August 2020 and 31 August 2020. Deposit is due within 3 days to confirm a booking. Must pay in full 120 days prior to departure. Prices include port charges and shipboard gratuities. Viking Cruises reserves the right to correct or revise pricing or dates throughout the season. Conditions apply. Price listed above are subject to seasonality and availability, and may change without prior notice.

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