From left: FCCA President Michele Paige; MP Sidhart “Cookie” Bijlani; Vice President Development and Operations Global Port and Destination Development Group David Candib; Minister Emil Lee; and Vice President Government Relations Americas for Royal Caribbean Cruises Russell Benford.
PHILIPSBURG–Minister of Public Health, Social Development and Labour VSA Emil Lee said the Ministry would be seeking out the possibility for St. Maarten nationals to gain employment on cruise lines.
The barriers to – and opportunities for – employment were discussed in a recent meeting with representatives and members of the Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA). In the past, one of the barriers has been legislation surrounding the jurisdiction for disputes and hiring in foreign-flagged vessels.
“According to the FCCA representatives, legislation has been adjusted in other countries where workers are contracted. The Ministry has since received some examples of the adjustment in legislation and will continue to follow up to assess whether these might prove beneficial to our nationals. The learning and earning potential for St. Maarteners in the cruise industry is attractive and will be explored more,” Lee said during the Council of Ministers press briefing on Wednesday.
Employment in the cruise line industry has several benefits. The most obvious would be the opportunity to see the world. For persons interested or specialised in the hospitality or service industry, the customer satisfaction standards and ratings in the cruise industry are very high, making this a potentially great opportunity to gain valuable work experience, Lee said. Another benefit of employment in the cruise industry is that employee meals and housing are onboard, making it financially attractive for workers and easier to save for the future.
Another topic of discussion with FCCA representatives was access to health care services in St. Maarten for cruise line staffers when in the country. Cruise lines do have medical practitioners on board. However, there may be instances when additional medical services are needed.
“As St. Maarten expands the range and depth of services that we offer at the SMMC [St. Maarten Medical Center – Ed.], the opportunity to provide these services, which includes testing, diagnoses, and treatments to cruise line staff become possible. As we evolve our healthcare sector these talks with the FCCA can continue,” Lee said.