On Board From our ongoing surveys of our employees, we consistently score in terms of employee engagement on the very high end compared with other companies or industries. The other thing is that there is an actual maritime labor convention that provides a good framework for the rights of crew and obligations of employers, but interestingly a lot of countries have not ratified that agreement. There’s work that needs to be done in this space by Caribbean nations, and I think FCCA could help facilitate that. Maybe when we have our next Conference, we could place this on the agenda for a discussion with the industry and communities to at least start exploring this. We would also encourage our destination partners to individually explore this idea of enacting seafarer legislation which would contain things like arbitration in their country that can resolve any disputes that may come up and think about things such as compensation and damages – all of these issues that can be better resolved than this system that is an international legislation landscape, with legal representatives that make more out of the disputes than the employee does. Please understand that I joined as a crew member and worked as a crew member for 11 years. I am 100 percent familiar with how it works on a ship, and I can assure you that it is an incredibly positive environment, a very caring environment, and everyone only wants a win-win outcome for our employees and their families. We care about our employees, and we need to figure out how to get a mechanism in place that cares for people and protects people.
legislation would also include building up the hiring partner network. We know this is an unlock because we do it in other countries, partnering with very reputable hiring partners to facilitate this process. We know it would be little to know money to join and that this would allow crew members to get access to quality healthcare. Another enabler is partnering with training schools. We have a number of partnerships around the world with local governments and different schools that provide extensive training. A lot of times you’ll find us on campus several times a year. We’ve actually provided curricula to schools to help crew members prepare for life onboard. We’ve gone in and trained ourselves with shoreside staff members. We also have done workshops at local schools with resume writing and interview skills. The goal is not just getting crew members on board our ships and to our private destinations, but also providing life skills that they can take with them far beyond their time with Royal Caribbean. A success story we do have is our partnership with Saint Lucia, which first had roadblocks including students’ limited access to the internet; inability to pay for medical testing or travel to ships; and not having an approved medical facility to conduct our testing – so we worked closely with the local government and Monroe College to overcome the barriers, and as a result over two quarters increased the number of Saint Lucians on board our ships by 50 percent. We know there can be ways we can work together to achieve this common goal.
If the legislation is in place, what type of trainings or programs can you implement to support the crew?
Can you explain the potential career path for crew and how to get in more senior roles?
AA We know that there are a few enablers that would allow us to unlock the potential of the hiring goal we have. We have said internally 10 in 10, with an aim to hire 10,000 crew members and promote 10,000 crew members every year. Every year we go back to the sheer opportunity that exists within our organization, and the enablers in addition to having some type of a harmonized seafarer
AA As Michael mentioned, we have three generations of family members that have been with us, and we have people who retire from Royal Caribbean and start their own successful business in their home country with the skills that they gained with us. When we’re looking for people to join us, what we see a lot is entry level positions such as cleaners, galley, assistant waiters – roles where people can join us and have
18 SECOND QUARTER 2021 | TRAVEL & CRUISE
the ability to learn the skills onboard our ships and advance with us. A number of years ago, we developed a comprehensive training program to teach our crew members about jobs they might be interested in before actually getting in the position. There are also opportunities for skilled professionals, specifically in managerial roles like hotel operations and marine, and interestingly enough nine percent of our shipboard managerial roles are held by crew members from the Caribbean – so we know when we hire Caribbean crew members, they stay with us longer and advance to these managerial positions, which is what we’re looking to do more of in the future. We also have international partnerships with maritime universities, including scholarships that hire them into the cadet program when they graduate, and there are always opportunities for training and advancement. Why are you looking to increase Caribbean hiring? MB When our guests book a cruise for the Caribbean, they want to experience the culture and connect with people who are from the Caribbean, which enhances their enjoyment and creates memories. After all, we are Royal Caribbean, and our whole vibe is Caribbean. We have a calypso band on every one of our ships, even in China. It’s kind of our DNA, and being Royal Caribbean, having more Caribbean crew would be fantastic. What’s the game plan moving forward? MB I think we should talk more together. Countries, destinations that are interested in developing a stronger connection for employment should think about it individually as groups. I’d suggest two things: 1. Reach out to Russel Benford, Vice President Government Relations, Americas of Royal Caribbean Group, and start talking how to move forward, and 2. If people are interested, let FCCA know so we can come together to talk it through and see what we can develop for the future as a community.