Twenty-plus students and their instructors from the University of The Bahamas (UB) North, CeLearn Programme, toured the Celebration Cruise Line’s, Bahamas Paradise Tuesday, March 12, to learn about opportunities in the area of customer service and employment availability.
Bahamas Paradise Youth Manager and Instructor Jenny, along with her coworkers gave the students an in-depth tour that included a full description of departments from the front desk with reservations office, the chief accountant office to the shore excursions office, located on floors five, nine, 10 and 11.
UB North, CeLearn Programme Director Denise Sherman, shared details about the programme. “CeLearn is a continuing education course with lifelong learning.
“We offer programmes for those students who may need assistance entering into UB because they haven’t met the requirements for direct entry, so we do an academic upgrade. We also do specific programmes – professional and personal development.”
She continued, “The Fresh Start Programme is in conjunction with the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture and Mrs. (Carla) Brown-Roker, Youth Coordinator asked us, specifically, to develop a programme so that the students would gain some skills in hospitality services.
“We are here today visiting the Celebration, to give the students an opportunity to see how, in particular, the front desk works, because one of the courses they are taking is Front Desk Services. The students express their career path, so we try to place them as best where they fit.
“It is certainly our hope, what they experience, today, will be something that they will carry with them. The idea is for them to see the professionals at work and hopefully, they will emulate them and display in their everyday lives the same characteristics that they would see on this trip.”
Lecturer for Front Desk Operations, Personal Health and Hygiene Classes at UB North, Rembert Albury, expressed the importance of students learning hands-on work.
“I thought this tour was necessary for the class to experience and see what the front desk on a ship of this size is like, compared to programmes online.
“I also think it will give them the opportunity to see the job opportunities available on the ship. It is not just Front Desk Operations or the front of a post … no, you also have Engineers and Activity Departments on this ship,” said Albury.
He noted that the programme started January 28 and ends on May 2.
Albury added that he hopes the students will one day apply and become employees of the cruise line. “This is the whole intent. I hope some of the students do follow that lead because when the class first started, I tried to find out a little about their background.
“Every one of them is unemployed. So, I started taking notes,” Albury continued, “and I thought, where can I lead these people to get a chance to get employed.
“The cruise ships are coming into Grand Bahama and this is an opportunity to get employed. There are a number of foreign staff employed on the ships and for Bahamians employment is readily available. The students should consider working on these ships at least for the time being.”
The students on tour are part of the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture, Fresh Start Programme and according to Youth Coordinator Brown-Roker, the programme has gone up another level.
“I thought this field trip was an eye opener for the students. It gave them an opportunity to see professionals in the field that they are studying in action and doing all that they can to make sure they deliver top quality service and good customer service in relations to persons that are on-board the vessel.
“I want to commend Mr. Albury for thinking of this field trip, because I think that it has opened the eyes of all the participants,” said Brown-Roker.
“Many students in this programme only saw with a tunnel vision and I think that today’s field trip allowed them to expand their vision. They can now see that there are so many possibilities in the tourism sector, in the hotel sector.
“They got to see a floating hotel and that is what a cruise ship is. They got to hear the jargon and the lingo of what it takes to be on-board a ship. They saw the safety drills and saw that all hands had to be on deck for that. They were able to be exposed to the various types of employment opportunities that are available on-board the Celebration and ships like it.”
According to Brown-Roker, “This is very important because sometimes our students can only see themselves as being just in the front desk, but when they hear about the job of a concierge, when they hear about what a cruise director does, when they see that there are so many unlimited opportunities and for them as young Bahamians, they are ripe and ready to seize that advantage.
“I thought that the ship personnel were very receptive to our visit, they knew what we came for and I think that the students that are interested in working front desk, they saw what it takes to work a front desk of a cruise ship and they heard the importance of smile. They heard about working with difficult customers and the fact that it is their job to solve whatever problems that customer has, and to make sure they are enjoying their stay afterwards.
“When you put together what we saw today along with their training at BahamaHost and at UB CeLearn, I believe that these students will walk away as winners.
“They will come to understand that there is a role for them to play and there are great opportunities in this sector, and they have to seize these opportunities while they are available.”
Brown-Roker thanked the staff of the Celebration, University of The Bahamas, Albury, Ms. Sherman, Mr. Maynard and the Ministry of Tourism causing the tour to come to fruition.
“I believe that Fresh Start has gone to another level today, by having such an informative field trip. I am hoping to cash in on this field trip by having some of our students engage in employment in the not so distant future,” disclosed Brown-Roker.