Fine for cruise ship Oasis of the Seas revoked

The court in The Hague disagrees with the fine imposed on shipping company Royal Carribean Cruise Ltd in 2014. The fine was imposed for employing foreign workers on cruise ship Oasis of the Seas. The ruling allows for maintenance of cruise ships to return to Rotterdam.

The court upheld RCCL’s objection to the fine. With the court’s explanation of rules for the use of “riding crews”, an important threshold has been removed for cruise shipping companies to have maintenance carried out in Rotterdam.

According to Bas Ort, chairman of trade organisation Netherlands Maritime Technology (NMT), this is very good news for the yards that carry out maintenance and repairs and for the many suppliers. ‘I call on Minister Koolmees and the Inspector General of the ISZW to respect this statement. We don’t want any new blockades by lodging an appeal. The principals have the clarity they need and the Dutch shipyards and suppliers can bring in work that they desperately need in this crisis.’

Riding crew

The court ruled that RCCL’s interpretation of the regulations for the non-EU members of the “riding crew” on board the cruise ships is correct and therefore no work permit is required for them. The key point of the ruling is that a cruise ship is considered to be a “means of transport in international traffic”. This is also the case if the ship is temporarily in dock.

For non-EU employees who live outside the Netherlands, are employed by a foreign client and work on the cruise ships, no work permit needs to be applied for according to the current rules. The Minister and the Inspector General of ISZW followed a different interpretation and said a cruise ship is not a means of transport when in dock.

Urgent need for orders

According to NMT the sector is in urgent need of orders from cruise shipping companies. Over the past few years, over 100 million euros worth of orders for the largest cruise ships passed Rotterdam by every year, says NMT, because the shipping companies had no confidence in the unclear and subjective interpretation of the rules and in the inspections carried out by the Dutch government.

The court ruling provides clarity for clients and shipyards. ‘We are pleased that the court has confirmed that the current regulations are sufficient for the riding crew of cruise ships,’ says Ort. ‘We trust that Minister Koolmees will not tamper with that and thus prevent new orders from disappearing abroad.’

Picture: Oasis of the Seas in Rotterdam (by Dietmut Teijgeman-Hansen).

Author: Mariska Buitendijk

Mariska Buitendijk is one of SWZ|Maritime's journalists as well as the magazine's copy editor.