A new rule that prevents cruise ship crew from disembarking in New York City and New Jersey unless they have completed at least five contracts has drawn protests from employees of cruise ships.

The rule has been enforced by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

Acknowledging some “hardship” for those who have not yet met that threshold, the agency said the rule “is necessary to address the increase of desertions at this port.”

According to cruise news, the new rule has disappointed the cruise ship crews. The concern is that it prevents crew members from relaxing and enjoying their shore leave in the New York City and New Jersey ports.

However, there is no restriction in disembarking in other ports that the ship might visit. The staff contracts may vary from one cruise line to another, but the normal span is a minimum of two months.

The rule had a dampening effect on the cruise staff. They work hard to make vacations cheerful and make trips memorable for the guests yet rewards like shore leave are blocked by new rules.

One crew member said of the new rule. “It doesn’t feel fair,” adding that members of the crew are being punished with doing anything wrong.

Per the new rule, the Norwegian Gem cruise ship sailing from New York City will preclude its crew from visiting the city and they have to be content with seeing the skyline of The Big Apple.

Rule to cut crew defections

The cruise line spokesperson also explained: “The rule aims to prevent defections and crew members have to complete five contracts before becoming eligible for shore leave.”

According to the site Crew Center, this is not the first time such restrictions are introduced. In 2018, crew members who were on their first or second contracts with Norwegian Cruise Line were denied shore leave while the ships docked in New York City’s ports saying they need to meet certain citizenship requirements.

However, there is hope that the restriction being temporary will be lifted soon. There had been reports about a surge in cruise crew defections. The irony is that the new rule has come when New York City’s ports are brimming with more outgoing ships.

Fall season’s travel boom

The fall season normally witnesses a surge in cruise traffic from travelers buying cruise deals mainly for “leaf-peeper” cruises.

GettyImages-Cruise Ship in Miami
Residents of the city wave as they watch the world's largest luxury liner, the Freedom of the Seas, docks at the port of Miami 25 May 2006. ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP/Getty Images

The travel boom also brings good business to New York hotels. The year-end season is also buoyed by incentives like Costco Travel and travel insurance growth.

Examples of “leaf peeper include trips” include Carnival Sunrise sailing out of Brooklyn to Halifax, New Brunswick, Portland, and Boston. New Jersey is famous for the New Jersey lottery in addition to other city attractions.

Meanwhile, history was made when a big cruise ship sailed through the narrow Corinth Canal. The 22.5-meter-wide Braemar cruise squeezed its way through the rocky walls of the Greece canal, whose width is just 24 meters at its narrowest point

The cruise company Fred Olsen shared photographs of the cruise ship's journey on social media highlighting the “tight squeeze” through the Corinth Canal.