By November, over 600 Trinidad and Tobago nationals will hit the seas for their first day at work as an employee of the Miami-based Royal Caribbean group.
Just over a month since thousands of people flocked to Royal Caribbean’s recruitment drives in Trinidad and Tobago, the international cruise line has confirmed the employment of 602 applicants so far.
Royal Caribbean confirmed that 6,000 applications were submitted to them following the job recruitment exercises held in Port-of-Spain, San Fernando, and Scarborough in June.
The recruitment drive created a huge buzz prompting the cruise line to add an additional date to screen applicant at the National Academy for Performing Arts in Port-of-Spain.
The Royal Caribbean Group said it came to Trinidad and Tobago with a team of 20 persons who conducted interviews over four days. Two days at NAPA, one day at the Southern Academy for the Performing Arts and one day at the Shaw Park Cultural Complex in Tobago. “These exercises attracted an overwhelming response,” the cruise liner said.
RCG said over the course of those four days, interviews were done with 822 people. It was confirmed that following those interviews Royal Caribbean ships will now be staffed with Trinidad and Tobago citizens in positions such as Bar Utility, Bar Servers, Cooks, Housekeeping, Restaurant Staff, Guest and Hospitality Services, Doctors and Chefs.
The cruise line said there are also persons being considered for speciality and niche positions such as Casino staff, Security, Information Technology and Electricians. However, these persons will now require follow-up interviews and screening because of the nature of these positions.
Royal Caribbean said while only 822 out of the 6,000 applicants were interviewed, the remaining applicants would still have an opportunity to gain employment as they now form part of the group’s wider tourism employment database.
Royal Caribbean said those persons who registered but were not interviewed in-person, are now being scheduled for virtual interviews. The Ministry of Tourism will facilitate this exercise, the cruise line said, and will implement a secretariat to provide support to applicants wishing to be screened for cruise ship employment.
“The ministry is very pleased for having been instrumental in signing the MoOU with Royal Caribbean and in facilitating job opportunities to many deserving nationals. The 22-member team who were here during the first phase of the recruitment drive were only able to interview the 822 nationals, but the interviews are scheduled to continue in the coming weeks virtually,” Tourism Minister Randall Mitchell told the Business Guardian.
Wendy McDonald, Regional Vice President, Government Relations for the Caribbean said: “We are pleased with the number of qualified candidates interested in joining the Royal Caribbean Group. We interviewed many talented people and are looking forward to welcoming new crew members in a variety of positions. We’re proud to continue our partnership with the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and the Arts and thank them for their continued support.”
The recruitment drive took place following the signing of a MoU on May 23. The MoU proved a solution for both parties.
Royal Caribbean noted the Caribbean region is by far the most popular cruise destination in the world as it constantly records one-third of global cruise visitors. The cruise industry was one of the most severely affected as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, and in a bid to push its recovery Royal Caribbean felt that staffing their vessels with Caribbean residents would bring the culture and customs of the region to the onboard experience.
The timing of the MoU also proved a much-needed shot in the arm for many left without work as a result of the extended closure of Trinidad and Tobago’s borders and the entertainment and hospitality sectors during the height of the pandemic. While these sectors have since reopened, recovery has been slow.
McDonald continued: “This MOU is for a period of one year. Therefore, because we were unable to interview the number of persons who expressed an interest in joining team Royal Caribbean and given the commitment to hire at least 2,000 candidates, the process remains open.”
The Royal Caribbean Group said it saw Trinidad and Tobago citizens as the perfect representation of the Caribbean experience due to the naturally outgoing and engaging nature of its residents as well as their overall welcoming disposition to visitors.
Royal Caribbean also explained that based on previous experience it was observed that “Trinidadians and Tobagonians are the most teachable and trainable and therefore can perform at the required standard and deliver a superior guest services experience.”
Mitchell said, “This is the very reason for Royal Caribbean’s renewed relationship with destination Trinidad and Tobago. Cruise passengers are looking for more intimate, personalised experiences that give more insight into a country’s culture and heritage.”
The minister added, “The post-pandemic tourist is looking for the most intriguing story and Trinidad and Tobago’s story is one of different cultural backgrounds and customs which certainly adds to its intrigue. This, along with our built and natural sites and attractions makes for a truly memorable visitor experience.”
Nineteen-year-old MIC Institute of Technology student Emanuel Johnson was accepted as a Commis II Chef by the Cruise line.
He said the drive allowed him to pursue one of his dreams: “I always wanted to work on a cruise ship and to be accepted by RCG was really and truly a highlight for me. I can’t wait to tour the world doing what I love, which is cooking.”
Giselle Elcock, who was offered the position of Public Area Attendant, said: “I think this is the beginning of an opportunity that is going to change my life. I can’t wait to be a part of the ship’s team and just absorb everything. All the experiences, the challenges that will come...I am ready for it.” The 602 successful applicants have since received official offer letters and have begun the process to be listed as ‘on boarded.’
RCG said the offer letters outlined the position offered, length of contract and salary.
After applicants accept their offers, they must complete a Personal Data Form, conduct a more detailed medical assessment and then receive letters of employment. From there they will be assigned to a vessel along with the date and port to meet the vessel. When this is confirmed they will be required to apply for their Seafarer’s Visa. The cost of the visa will be covered by the Royal Caribbean Group as well as all training and airfare to meet their assigned vessel.