Royal Caribbean International & Barbados Agreement

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From left to right: Shelly Williams, chariman, Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc.; Michael Bayley, president & CEO, Royal Caribbean International; and Senator Lisa Cummings, minister of tourism and international transport at Seatrade Cruise Global. (Photo Credit: Laurel Herman.)

Today, Royal Caribbean International and Barbados Tourism Marketing, Inc. announced a new agreement that will bring more Barbadians on board Royal Caribbean ships.

“Barbados has been working collaboratively with Michael over the last year-and-a-half on the Americas Cruise Tourism Task Force, which brought together all of the destinations from the Caribbean and worked on how we would get the industry together with a common approach to resumption,” said Senator Lisa Cummins, minister of tourism and international transport for Barbados.

“Today we have an opportunity to sign an agreement between Royal Caribbean and Barbados specifically on the issue of employment opportunities for workers on board cruise ships,” she added. “We have a broad range of employment opportunities for Barbadians; we’re talking entertainers, photographers, hospitality management. If you know one thing about Barbados, it’s that we’re known for our hospitality. And we are looking forward to this new partnership with Royal Caribbean and getting more Barbadians employed on board cruise ships.”

She also noted that Barbados is moving its primary cruise operations from Bridgetown to Miami.

“In the beginning of the pandemic when the world shut down, we at Royal Caribbean, along with the entire cruise industry, were stuck with tens of thousand of crew members on our ships all over the world. There was no possibility for us to get our crew members home; there were changing protocols and rules. Even getting citizens of a country back to their country was unbelievably complicated and impossible. We at Royal Caribbean had over 50,000 crew members from 100 countries around the world who were in constant quarantine lockdown aboard our ships and desperately wanted to get home to their family and friends,” said Michael Bayley, president & CEO, Royal Caribbean International. “It was Barbados that stepped up and was incredibly supportive and helpful when they allowed Royal Caribbean and other companies to bring our ships and arrange flights all over the world. And we got 20,000 of our crew off our ships in Barbados and got them home. It would not have been possible without the cooperation of the people of Barbados.”

He added that, “The relationship with Barbados has been incredible over the past five decades.

“We also homeported one of our ships in Barbados this season,” he continued,
“and we look forward to another season coming up when we’ll be operating from Bridgetown.”

Adding that, “One of the things we had discussions about was deepening our commitment to Barbados and today reflects that in the signing of the agreement in regard to hiring, recruiting—not only across traditional hotel-style positions but also the entertainment space.”

Bayley noted that Royal Caribbean’s crew population is about 50,000 from all over the world and with the new ships it’s about 6,000 new crew members being added. Royal Caribbean is now in the recruiting phase and “it’ll be about four-five months until you start seeing the new crew from Barbados on our ships,” he said.

“One of the things that Destination Barbados in terms of cruise will be able to focus on is the connections around curating authentic Barbadian experiences when cruise ships come on the island,” said Shelly Williams, chairman, Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc.

“One of the key things we’ve been working on is how we identify niche Barbadian products, and one of those has been Barbados rum,” she added.

When asked how many more ships can be expected to sail to Barbados in the future, Bayley responded, “Even though we may be in discussions with the government in Barbados or around the world, we never talk about where are we going with new ships. I can tell you that Icon of the Seas, which is our new ship coming next year, will be in the Caribbean.”

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