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Royal Caribbean Recruiting Thousands to Meet Surging Demand

May 7, 2024

© Joni / Adobe Stock

© Joni / Adobe Stock

Cruise operator Royal Caribbean Group is in discussions with new and existing markets around the world to recruit thousands of workers to staff its ships and private destinations to keep up with record cruise demand.

The number of people taking cruises hit a record in 2023, and with the surge in demand and larger vessels, labor needs are growing. Tourism boards and port operators from around the world said Royal Caribbean is looking to hire worldwide and the company confirmed it will hire around 10,000 workers this year.

Royal Caribbean's sea-based workforce at the end of 2023 totaled about 88,700 employees, 6% lower than the year prior, according to the company's annual filing. The company's land-based workforce including private destinations consisted of approximately 9,500 full-time employees, up 17%.

Bookings hit a record in the first quarter, boosting quarterly revenue to $3.73 billion, up 29%, and the company's stock price doubled in the past year to hit a new record.

"The recruiting strategy follows the business strategy of moderate capacity growth," a spokesperson said. The company plans to hire more than 10,000 workers in 2024 as it brings on three new ships, they added.

Andrew Spencer, president of the Caribbean Maritime University in Jamaica, said Royal Caribbean and rival Carnival have asked the university to ramp up short-term skills and certifications courses to get more workers trained for a career at sea, he said.

Royal isn't only focused on the Caribbean. The company also approached The Gambia Tourism Board in April with an interest in hiring more workers, a spokesperson said. The cruise operator currently employs about 700 workers from the West African nation.

"This is something we have discussed and will follow-up to see how best we can facilitate that (request)," the spokesperson said. The tourism board said it will try to provide up to 1,000 additional workers.

Netherlands territory St. Maarten is in the midst of discussions about recruitment with Royal after the parties held a recruitment drive last year to source 1,000 workers.

"It did not necessarily yield as many applicants that I think we all were expecting," said Alexander Gumbs, chief executive of Port St. Maarten Group, who said less than a third of that goal for 1,000 actually applied.

Tens of thousands of people need to be hired from the Caribbean and Latin America as new ships are deployed across the industry, according to the Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association, a trade organization. Tourism boards and ports said one of the major challenges is educating potential candidates about a career at sea to meet industry labor demand.

(Reuters - Reporting by Doyinsola Oladipo; Editing by Nick Zieminski)

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