Abuse of Power: Manager's Connections in Head Office Lead to Bullying Towards Crew Members

May 03, 2023

This article was written after numerous comments, complaints and reports of crew members suffering from health and mental wellbeing related issues onboard MSC Cruises during the Brazilian season due to severe toxic leadership of a director...and still ongoing even though it has been reported directly to the head office. This ship has recently returned to Europe.

While these issues are not new, it is essential to highlight them in order to bring attention to the importance of mental health, particularly given the extraordinary stressful workplace environment on cruise ships. 

Working on a cruise ship can be a challenging and often a highly stressful environment. Crew members face long hours, demanding workloads, and the pressure to perform to the highest standards.

The constant pressure of some notorious leaders onboard cruise lines can severely impact the mental health of crew members. These totalitarian dictators often lack the necessary leadership skills and instead resort to intimidating and bullying those under their authority. They operate from a mentality of "FIXING" crew members, which can lead to intentional dismissals if they are not liked. It is crucial to prioritize the mental health needs of crew members and to create a supportive work environment that ensures their well-being is the top priority. Unfortunately, the opposite is often observed onboard, and this must change in order to prevent further harm to crew members.

Lately, a director of MSC Cruises has been making headlines onboard for all the wrong reasons during the recently completed Brazilian season. According to sources, the director has been using his position of authority to bully and threaten crew members with warnings and bad evaluations. The director, who for now shall be left unnamed, mistreats and harasses crew and blatantly states that due to his connections in the head office, he is unstoppable and instills fear in the crew, making them reluctant to speak up and officially report him. Some crew have reported feeling helpless and intimidated by his behavior in fear of loosing their jobs. Moreover, the director and other high ranking leaders has been known to entertain Brazilian guests onboard with lavish spreads of lobster, extravagant wines and champagnes, raising questions about their conduct and priorities.

Following multiple complaints and reports to the head office, it appears that no action has been taken. This has left many crew members feeling unsupported, and has led to the decision to publicly post this article in the hopes of raising awareness within the cruise industry of the importance of prioritizing crew mental health and well-being.

The authoritarian behavior exhibited by toxic leaders onboard, and the lack of leadership development and low emotional intelligence must come to an end. The negative effects of toxic leaders are not limited to the workplace; they can also have a significant impact on the personal lives of crew members onboard, which are nonexistent given the strenuous work routines. Crew members may have to endure this manipulative behavior for the entirety of their contract, that only exacerbates the situation in a fear-based environment, feeling anxious and frequently worried about unwanted consequences including job loss.

Given the seriousness of these allegations, it is imperative that the head office takes appropriate action against any hostile behavior that unnecessarily endangers the crew’s mental health and well-being to avoid susceptibility to chronic depression, stress, and anxiety, all of which increase the risk of lowered immunity and may lead to suicidal attempts. It is time to shine a spotlight on the mental health and well-being of the crew in the cruise industry!