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 Post subject: Vegan Cruises
PostPosted: Fri Jul 18, 2014 12:40 pm 
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Early this year, my husband and I won the VegNews awards raffle grand prize: a 7 day Caribbean cruise. Unfortunately, it was not as glamorous as it sounds. This is a firsthand account of our experience.

Summary: Cruise ships are floating sweatshops.

We waited to say anything publicly for awhile because we wanted to give the cruise line or Holistic Holiday a chance to respond; neither did. But with the number of vegan cruises growing every year, we felt it was important that this information be shared with the vegan community so that people can make informed choices when making vacation plans. Personally, I wish I had known before we went on this trip, at the very least I would have brought a whole lot more cash for tipping.

My hope is that in the future these vegan cruise organizers will work to have their events aboard ships that employ basic labor standards for the crew and hopefully make these events a bit more compatible with a compassionate lifestyle.

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 Post subject: Re: Vegan Cruises
PostPosted: Fri Jul 18, 2014 1:12 pm 
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That's awful. :(


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 Post subject: Re: Vegan Cruises
PostPosted: Fri Jul 18, 2014 1:18 pm 
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Thank you for sharing this!

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 Post subject: Re: Vegan Cruises
PostPosted: Fri Jul 18, 2014 2:41 pm 
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i had no idea. i cruised once, and i just didn't really enjoy it. your report helps me feel better about not wanting to join my parents-in-law on any other cruises in the future. thank you.

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 Post subject: Re: Vegan Cruises
PostPosted: Fri Jul 18, 2014 3:42 pm 
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What an awful business (and response and industry). I've never felt the interest in taking a packaged cruise when the option to actually travel and explore the world is another option.

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 Post subject: Re: Vegan Cruises
PostPosted: Fri Jul 18, 2014 8:31 pm 
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That's horrific! Thank you for bringing this to light.

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 Post subject: Re: Vegan Cruises
PostPosted: Fri Jul 18, 2014 8:50 pm 
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Thank you very, very much for posting this. I'm sure you and A are more than aware, but reading through the description of the recruitment tactics, the padded 'costs' to bring workers in, the withholding of passports, this is how traffickers trap their victims. Which leaves no other conclusion than that this cruise company and others like it are human traffickers. Sure, maybe their workers are 'documented,' but these acts are no less egregious because they're technically legal.

Absolutely not compatible with a 'compassionate' lifestyle. I'll be sure to mention this to anyone I know who's considering a cruise!

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 Post subject: Re: Vegan Cruises
PostPosted: Fri Jul 18, 2014 8:55 pm 
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I've been on a few cruises and I knew the staff wasn't paid well, but we always tip a lot, but I didn't know the extent of the working condition. We're already booked on another cruise later this year, but I'm going to research the cruise line and see what I can find out about the working conditions and obviously that will influence if we ever do it again.

That also really sucks that the food wasn't great on the vegan cruise.

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 Post subject: Re: Vegan Cruises
PostPosted: Fri Jul 18, 2014 9:01 pm 
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This also sounds exactly how Scientology is run. Classic trafficking. This is an issue that never gets the attention it needs. I think there is still an idea in many peoples heads that trafficking is mostly about prostitution.

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 Post subject: Re: Vegan Cruises
PostPosted: Fri Jul 18, 2014 9:04 pm 
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Thanks for posting. I'd heard some of your experience before, but not all.

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 Post subject: Re: Vegan Cruises
PostPosted: Fri Jul 18, 2014 9:41 pm 
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How can I help bring more attention to this? Can I share the google doc?

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 Post subject: Re: Vegan Cruises
PostPosted: Fri Jul 18, 2014 9:42 pm 
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Wow, that's horrifying. Thank you for sharing. We were already anti-cruise because of the huge environmental costs but this really seals the deal.


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 Post subject: Re: Vegan Cruises
PostPosted: Fri Jul 18, 2014 9:51 pm 
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ndpittman wrote:
How can I help bring more attention to this? Can I share the google doc?

Yes, it's viewable by anyone!

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 Post subject: Re: Vegan Cruises
PostPosted: Fri Jul 18, 2014 9:58 pm 
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This is terrible. I've never had any interest in cruises - being trapped on a boat with thousands of people sounds nightmarish to me - but I had no idea things like this went on.

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 Post subject: Re: Vegan Cruises
PostPosted: Sat Jul 19, 2014 3:54 am 
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That's awful! Have you let VegNews know about your experience? They should definitely not be offering free cruises with this company (or other unethical companies) in the future.

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 Post subject: Re: Vegan Cruises
PostPosted: Sat Jul 19, 2014 5:15 am 
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Wow. I've never taken a cruise and have always hesitated for other reasons and done something else instead, but this definitely makes me want to avoid them.

I started reading this and thought, well, OK, the hours are long but a lot of boat/shipping jobs are so that people can get their work done and get home to their families where they take a bunch of time off…but the more I read, the more horrified I was. The recruitment tactics, and the costs to employees, and the confiscation of passports and the extra charges from their paychecks. AWFUL. That is just horrendous.

Thank you for sharing, and for finding out these people's stories!


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 Post subject: Re: Vegan Cruises
PostPosted: Sat Jul 19, 2014 7:19 am 
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Wow. That's absolutely awful. As annak mentioned, it didn't sound all that surprising at first, but the literal trapping of the employees in horrible conditions without an option to purchase a flight home is horrific.

The Unicef thing is so bizarre too. I worked for a small health food store and we were "asked" to pay in to a charity but it was hyped up so much (photos of sponsored children, videos) with every new hire that no one had the guts to opt out--even though I personally felt if I even had the excess money (I was a student), I would rather contribute to a charity of my choosing. I didn't even think about that again until now and how ridiculous it was.

I always thought that vegan cruise sounded so sleazy and I'm glad I know the facts now, however heartbreaking they are.


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 Post subject: Re: Vegan Cruises
PostPosted: Sat Jul 19, 2014 7:37 am 
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I'm not surprised. An all vegan trip sounds sooo sooo tempting. I've never been a cruise type and well since the last cruise I went on had an 'accident', I'm even less inclined but it wasn't your standard cruise. I know certain people like aspects like not having to carry around luggage, check in and out of hotels. I always thought the restriction of only being in 1 place 1 night and also for large cruise ships, you have to go to really touristy ports because they are built for the ships. Anyway, I always see 'super cheap cruises!' advertised and wonder how they can be so cheap.

It is good to know for those that want to go on a cruise to try to determine labor practices. I'd expect bargain basement cruises to be worst but I also wouldn't be surprised if it happens on nicer cruise lines as well.

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 Post subject: Re: Vegan Cruises
PostPosted: Sat Jul 19, 2014 3:25 pm 
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Thank you for putting together such a comprehensive, measured and well-researched piece. You clearly did a lot of homework and asked a lot of hard questions. And I love that there is a list of things one can do to make things better.

Its easy to notice that something isn't quite right and that workers are being exploited, but I think most people wouldn't have gone to the lengths you did researching, talking to people and giving the company a chance to respond and at least seem to care. The racism of the Black workers not getting to eat at the buffet was so sad, and I am so disappointed that UNICEF wouldn't check the provenance of their donations, past just asking the cruise ship. You would think that they wouldn't want to benefit from exploitation either. I think you did such a great investigation and hope a media outlet looks into the labor practices as hard as you did. As Erika says, all of it sounds so unethical and a lot like de facto slavery and human trafficking.

My grandfather worked on cruise ships in the 20's and 30's and its really horrible to realize that conditions are even worse now than they were then. I really appreciated all your work in putting this together and am going to contact the operators like you suggest.

You guys are awesome.

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 Post subject: Re: Vegan Cruises
PostPosted: Sat Jul 19, 2014 6:05 pm 
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Erika Soyf*cker wrote:
Thank you very, very much for posting this. I'm sure you and A are more than aware, but reading through the description of the recruitment tactics, the padded 'costs' to bring workers in, the withholding of passports, this is how traffickers trap their victims. Which leaves no other conclusion than that this cruise company and others like it are human traffickers. Sure, maybe their workers are 'documented,' but these acts are no less egregious because they're technically legal.

Absolutely not compatible with a 'compassionate' lifestyle. I'll be sure to mention this to anyone I know who's considering a cruise!

Exactly. One thing not mentioned in the essay is that the workers receive automatic extensions on their contracts for 10 years. This is just one more thing that makes them incredibly reluctant to seek out other forms of employment. When they're doing 6-12 months on and 3 off, when they're off they want to be able to spend time with their families and find temporary local work, not go through the expensive and time consuming application to get a job on another cruise line, even if they heard it might be better.

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 Post subject: Re: Vegan Cruises
PostPosted: Sat Jul 19, 2014 6:08 pm 
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ijustdiedinside wrote:
That also really sucks that the food wasn't great on the vegan cruise.

Haha, yeah. This is a total first-world problem (wahhh! the food on the cruise I won wasn't good!), but it was downright unpalatable. I ate more french fries that week than I had in the last year combined.

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 Post subject: Re: Vegan Cruises
PostPosted: Sat Jul 19, 2014 6:11 pm 
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lepelaar wrote:
That's awful! Have you let VegNews know about your experience? They should definitely not be offering free cruises with this company (or other unethical companies) in the future.

Yes. No response from Joe (we mostly communicated with him to collect the prize).

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 Post subject: Re: Vegan Cruises
PostPosted: Sat Jul 19, 2014 8:22 pm 
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Wow, I have never been on a cruise so I had no idea this was going on. I'm employed with an agency that does some work on human trafficking - I'll keep this in mind from now on when I talk to the folks working on that issue to see if it is something they can look into.

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 Post subject: Re: Vegan Cruises
PostPosted: Sat Jul 19, 2014 8:33 pm 
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I also tagged a high school friend who is a journalist on my FB post. I don't know if anything will come of it, but it was the only personal media contact I could think of.

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I would eat Dr. Cow pocket cheese in a second. I would eat it if you hid it under your hat, or in your backpack, but not if it was in your shoe. That's where I draw the line. -allularpunk


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 Post subject: Re: Vegan Cruises
PostPosted: Sat Jul 19, 2014 8:52 pm 
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ndpittman wrote:
I also tagged a high school friend who is a journalist on my FB post. I don't know if anything will come of it, but it was the only personal media contact I could think of.

yay! thanks!

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