One of the most respected names in the global cruise industry has promised thousands of jobs for Barbadians within the next four months.
Chief Executive Officer of Royal Caribbean Michael Bailey made the commitment during the signing of a memorandum of cooperation with Minister of Tourism and International Transport, Senator Lisa Cummins.
The agreement was inked at the Sea Trade Cruise Global Conference in Miami as Senator Cummins and Bailey applauded a relationship between Barbados and Royal Caribbean of more than five decades.
According to the tourism minister, the new jobs span a broad range of disciplines .
“We’re talking here about our creatives, our entertainers, our photographers, persons who work in hotel and hospitality management and if we know one thing about Barbados is that Barbados is well known for our hospitality,” said Senator Cummins.
“We are warm, especially when it comes to our cruise partners and we are looking forward to this new partnership with Royal Caribbean, getting more Barbadians employed onboard cruise ships, travelling the world and taking Barbados and our hospitality with it and working with you to develop more opportunities,” she added.
During the press briefing, Minister Cummins also hinted that cruise projections for the upcoming high season were promising.
At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Barbados facilitated charter flights for more than 20,000 Royal Caribbean employees who found themselves stranded on the high seas.
Repeatedly, Bailey thanked the government and people of Barbados for their hospitality at a time when quarantine lockdowns were preventing tens of thousands of people from making it home to their families.
“I think one thing that became clear during this pandemic is that the relationships that we’ve all had for so many years, I think perhaps sometimes you neglect them. You realise when the chips are down that all of those relationships and connections that you build over decades really do matter when things are difficult and one of those things that I think that we’ve had discussions about is deepening our commitment to Barbados. I think today reflects that in the signing of an agreement with regards to hiring and recruiting not only across typical traditional hotel-style positions but also in the entertainment space where we have obviously a vast entertainment organisation, musicians, choreographers, dancers, etc., and our intention is to recruit much of that talent from Barbados,” said Bailey.
“It was Barbados who stepped up and was incredibly supportive and helpful in allowing Royal Caribbean and other cruise companies to bring their ships to Bridgetown and to arrange charter flights literally to all over the world. We really do want to thank everybody in Barbados for being incredibly supportive,” he reiterated.
The Royal Caribbean CEO could not say how many Barbadians were likely to be given jobs, but he said the number of vacancies is projected to be over 10 000 ahead of the upcoming season.
“I think it’s fair to say it’ll be a fairly significant number. I think we are trying to coordinate a final date for the recruitment fair,” said Bailey.
“If it’s in six to eight weeks’ time, then typically from the point of being recruited it usually takes anywhere from four to eight weeks before they are assigned to their ship. So it’s probably about four or five months before we start seeing the new crew from Barbados arriving on our ships,” he added.
Bailey noted that at least one of its cruise ships had home ported in Bridgetown over the past high season bringing tens of thousands of tourists. In the upcoming season, he hopes to welcome many more.
Recently appointed Chairman of the Barbados Tourism and Marketing Inc. Shelly Williams said the organisation is heavily invested in finding opportunities in the sector for Barbadians.
She said the range of jobs that will be made available to Barbadians through Royal Caribbean include opportunities for engineers, carpenters, plumbers, electricians and seamen.
“That is the largest cross section I have ever seen and I am so excited to be on board. I think you are now going to lead the way for other discussions from other cruise lines for us to have this kind of relationship. I thank you for being the trendsetter and the trailblazer and allowing us to bring this to our people,” said Williams.