Letter from a crew member - MSC Managers and Officers don’t follow Company’s Values

Sep 09, 2019

It is funny how there is always talk about all the Values of the company only to find out that nobody in authority follows the same values they try to impress upon the lower echelons of staff. 

My time on MSC Poesia was tough and challenging, the main reason being that I don’t speak any foreign language and the guests being Brazilians made this an uphill task.  As a result, I had to work twice as hard as my Spanish and Italian colleagues in order to persuade guests to take photos. Despite this handicap in terms of communication, I was the most consistent photographer in terms of exposure and cropping and technical skills. 

My dedication and hard work didn’t stop the negative remarks from coming, however. The Photo Manager was extremely biased in her appraisals and only commented on anything negative she could find. Positive work contributions were totally ignored in deference to all theories on effective management. There was certainly no fairness in this team given the leadership experienced.

It’s also funny, in a depressing manner, how MSC officers expect you to greet and answer their greeting, yet frequently not acknowledging yours and then making complaints. One particular incident was with the crew purser, upon embarking I always greeted this man whenever I saw him and he always ignored my greetings. It so happen one gala night I was standing at my studio lost in a trail of thoughts as I waited for the guest to exit the restaurant. This same guy the crew purser passed by and I guess he said goodnight or hello I don’t know as I mentioned I was lost in my own thoughts so I didn’t hear the greeting and therefore I didn’t answer. This person was furious and went to the crew bar where he saw my manager and started complaining addressing me as this b…ch as he went on ranting to my manager. This was the behaviour of those Italian officers is that the way to go about it yet they talking about all those amazing values.

I was out on the development programme list and I don’t know why because I was never going to get that promotion, as evidenced from the treatment received daily from the Photo Manager and Officers. It was just another farce, a slap in the face of a hardworking dedicated staff.

I remember one of my colleagues asking me if I would come back for a second contract and I answered yes, to which the video operator answered “you won’t come back because you’re not going to get that promotion”, apparently the expected outcome was already widely known to all except myself.

Another example of the poor relations on MSC Poesia was about a stuffed monkey I purchased with my own funds. This was to use as a lens hugger to capture the attention of children when shooting them. The Assistant Manager, on noticing my initiative in the use of the monkey as a lens hugger, commented “oh I see you bought yourself “ - a decidedly unprofessional and deeply racist remark

There were a lot of other hurtful racial remarks made by my team members and management all of which I just smiled at and brushed off in order to maintain my composure and professionalism. None of which should have to be experienced by crew members on any international vessel portending to offer professional services to all guest regardless of color or creed.

The Photo Manager continually picked on me saying I always had the lowest numbers in everything knowing fully that was a distinct untruth, but it didn’t stop her from saying it.

I came to MSC because I believed they would be different from my last company, I believed in the lip service they paid to their “Values”, only to realise they really don’t care about the crew. The only ones who thrive are the Italians, and everyone else is treated as undeserving of the basic human privileges.

In my two years of working with Norwegian Cruise Lines I have never once had a bad evaluation, my evaluation may have stated that I have a strong personality, which I do have, but I still remained one of the most respected team members, and assisted everyone on the team so that we progressed and succeeded as a TEAM. 

However, on MSC though I did have a few misunderstandings with two of my colleagues, it never interfered with my work because as I have always stated I do not mix work and personal issues.

Which brings me down to my evaluation as stated by the COMPANY’S VALUES:

PASSION - As stated by the Manager, I do not meet the company’s expectation when it comes to showing passion for my job.  I could say without any doubt that everything I have ever done in this life I have given it 110% always.

CONTINUOUS EVOLUTION - I have always been vocal as to what could help us as a team hit the targets set, I have always been giving suggestions to help in whichever way I could, but yet still it was said that I do not meet your company’s expectations.

CARE FOR PEOPLE - Respect all MSC guest and colleagues.  The Manager’s comment indicated that I had been rude and unpleasant to the guest, team, and colleagues. I would like to take a moment here to elaborate on that in my seven (7) months with MSC there has never a complaint made against me by any of MSC Guests. 

As mentioned earlier above with the crew members and the officers, there were some misunderstandings which were identified. With the team I have always been vocal about my feelings, I am outspoken and many tend to mistake that as being rude or unpleasant. But I guess that how persons take it when a black man or woman expresses themselves. I have however never not once disrespected my colleagues or team members.  Any issues I had with other crew members I brought it up to the Manager’s attention, which always elicited an unpleasant response. How can I meet the expectation of working together as a team regardless of position or department and yet not care for people?  It is clear therefore that serious disparities in my appraisal are quite evident.

I would like to point out that despite all the blatantly skewed allegations made against me and the negative comments, I have and still remained the most consistent individual when it came to our product which is photos. Both knowledge and skills were well up to the MSC’s standards for correct exposure, precise cropping and everything needed to create an image that the guest would love, appreciate the professional quality of, and therefore buy.

our aim was to make money So I was baffled as to where exactly I had not done my job, and done it well!  With reference to the roll count, I do admit that it was not where it should have been, but coming from a company where I didn’t need to call or invite the guest to take pictures to what exists on MSC was totally different and a challenging task, a challenge I readily accepted. I didn’t let the new challenges and methods deter me as I kept on improving day by day.

It is therefore quite apparent that this was a clear case of victimization and someone’s plan to get me out of the company (WELL TO THAT I SAY KUDOS TO YOU, YOU HAVE SUCCEEDED IN GETTING ME OUT) or not see me succeed but to that part of not wanting to see me succeed well sorry to say they can't keep a good woman down . Even as I had just disembarked the vessel the manager told one of my colleagues that I wasn’t embarking with MSC anymore and she would make sure of it, yet nothing was addressed to me officially. Even after months of being home I have emailed and texted MSC many times but they never responded to any of my emails. They talk and boast about all these values yet they never took the time to thoroughly investigate such a matter.

It is my honest opinion I am not the one who was not meeting MSC’s Values, special attention should be paid to Management, and perhaps the introduction of a 360 degrees review process to properly evaluate the actions of Management, whose actions can have a negative effect on staff morale and Company’s profits. With the structure as it is currently, all it takes is the word of one biased, prejudiced Manager for the company to lose expert dedicated staffers.

With respect to the values of the Company, work needs to be done on the monitoring aspect of its implementation because Management and Officers of MSC are lacking in every way when it comes to living up to what they preach, and it’s very infuriating for junior staff to see the ones in authority constantly flaunting that which they wish to enforce.

On the topic of growth, I have grown in MSC since initially embarking. From not being able to communicate in any other language to learning enough to be able to communicate with our Brazilian guests and invite them to take photos, even to the point of sharing a joke or two even though most times I didn’t quite understand.  Whenever I didn’t, I always went out of my way to have one of my Brazilian colleagues to help them out since my Portuguese is still somewhat limited. But these are the things my Manager conveniently forgot to bring light, as for the sales and promotions the only thing I could have sold was embarkation or restaurant photos because these were the simplest things to explain. When it came to the photo packages however I was limited because the goal of the photo department is to make money, and if I cannot communicate fluently with our Brazilian guest then MSC is at a loss, hence the reason I left it to my colleagues who spoke the language and therefore better equipped to close the deal.

And to think I have been telling everyone that MSC is good, I have been inviting and encouraging my friends to come and work for this company because I initially believed there was equality and fairness, it is clearly evident what a “family” company they are.